Ognjen Svili?i? ? Director of The Voice
"I wanted to avoid this grey feeling of despair that you find in Eastern European films"
- We caught up with Croatian writer-director Ognjen Svili?i?, whose sixth feature, The Voice, has just premiered in the World Cinema section of the Busan International Film Festival
We spoke to Croatian writer-director Ognjen Svili?i?, whose sixth feature film, The Voice [+see also:
interview: Ognjen Svili?i?
film profile], has just had its premiere in the World Cinema section of the Busan International Film Festival.
Cineuropa: What inspired you to tell this story?
Ognjen Svili?i?: As we know, everywhere in the world, the radical elements in society are getting stronger and stronger. The freedom we have is not to be taken for granted. Eastern Europe has escaped communism, but it seems that people in this part of the world still need someone to tell them what to do and what to think. The Church saw its opportunity and just jumped in.
So for this film, I was inspired by a society that doesn’t allow for individuality. Croatia is a good example of a country in which the Catholic Church has a big influence. It’s everywhere, and is particularly dominant in schools and hospitals. And people don’t seem to have a problem with that. So my film is a protest against this conformism.
How did you pick the young actors and work with them? Are some of them actual believers? How did they take this story?
There are many talented people in the region of Dalmatia, where I come from. The kids in the movie had been acting in various drama groups, and when they read the script, they recognised themselves and the society in which they were living. Choosing them was easy: I just put them together to shoot as a group, and I immediately knew that they were my actors.
Some of them are indeed believers. But you know, believing in God doesn’t mean that you approve of the way the Church is imposing religion in some parts of the world.
Goran is not a hardcore atheist, nor are all the other characters real believers. How did you strike this balance?
It is easy to pass judgement in a story like this, so I was thinking about how things would actually happen in real life. If I saw things in a different way, I would have made the same kind of mistake that some of the characters in the film make. The balance is a result of me using my experiences from real life.
Tell us a bit about the visual style: the boarding school is brand-new, freshly painted in white, and it’s sunny every day…
First of all, I tried to avoid the usual look of Eastern European films, this grey feeling of despair that they exude. The reason for this decision is partly because I, myself, have made a couple of such movies, and I wanted to try something different.
Another reason is that this region of Croatia is anything but shabby. Money came with the growth of tourism, so everything looks new now. But maybe the most important thing is that I wanted to create a contrast between a pretty desperate situation and the background, which looks new, modern and even a bit touristic, in a way.
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