Film Is My Call
An interview with Dalibor Matanic, noted down by Tamar Noort.
When you were a child, you wanted to be a journalist. Have you ever regretted becoming a filmmaker?
I remember that most of the happy moments in my childhood happened when I was alone in cinema. It stayed that way. I think the film is still the most progressive and communicative art, and to make it simple, it is my call.
You started out with documentaries. How important is it for you to catch a sense of reality in your films?
It was a good starting point. Definitely now when you can see how important it is for the European films to analyze reality and to avoid Hollywood escapism. Documentaries can sharp your senses in observing the world around you and this experience can help you making features more authentic.
In PARTY, a group of young people do what thousands of teenagers do everyday – they buy some beers and find a nice place to chill out. Why did you choose this kind of characters for your film?
I wanted to visualize broken youth in ex-Yugoslavia. The most carefree days were ruined for many young people and I wanted to make it as a sunny day with some dark clouds approaching from distance.
The images you find for afternoon sex in PARTY are intense. Yet, you break the situation with the old lady looking for something. That’s pretty funny. How important is humour for you?
You can find it everywhere in life that comic elements are always somehow interfered into serious moments, sad situations, funerals, wars and of course sex. The humour is crucial thing for me because I'm well known for my specific sense for bad jokes. I think more and more humour will be in my films, no matter what the film is about.
Can humour help to understand and endure the present situation better?
The humour saved people in war time in Balkans. And it is something universal. I was happy as a child when I realized there is no borders on bad jokes. That everybody from America, Germany, France to Russia and even India, likes to make very bad and politically incorrect jokes.
How did you decide on the aesthetic concept for PARTY?
The film is divided into two parts. First, what life would be if nothing bad happened, and the second one: reality. Unfortunately, the first part, the dreamy sequence, is full of sun, it is very loose, hedonistical, enjoyable and reality is little bit desaturized, gloomy, cruel but authentic. I liked in PARTY to play not just with pictures but also with the sound, in one point of the film mixing together sounds of dream and reality.
In PARTY, the youths seem not to care about the history of their country – they live in the present. One of the girls asks: “Can it always be like this?“ And the next day, she sees how many people her age died in times of war. Do young people have to lose their innocence and naivite to understand history – and the present?
The war is horror. And there is nothing good about it. I think nobody should lose anything for political and religious stands. And that happened a lot in this area, people wanted just to enjoy life – and the Vukovar area where PARTY was shot was well known for its hedonism before war. The main problem all around the world is when people finally understand something, new horror is going on again somewhere. Conclusion: we didn't learned much.
Your films have been succesful not only in Croatia. How important is it to you to deal with contemporary post-war Croatian society in your films?
I make films on subjects which I know the best – the world around me in this second. I'm constantly observing people and situations, and when I see and feel some attack on humanism, it is time for reaction. I like people and I will not stop analyzing their shortcomings.
Your debut film had large audiences and good reviews – still, you had trouble financing the next one. What is filmmaking in Croatia like at the moment?
Somehow here no matter how many films have you made, you always start from zero, which is, I think, mentally good because you're questioning yourself all the time. But, I'm making films head against the wall. Now things are improving with the Croatian audiovisual centre, but we are still a little bit young in European coproduction.
What does Croatian cinema need in your opinion?
I think films are better and better and with software we don't have problems anymore. The only thing now to solve is promotion, way to distributors and festivals. But as always: I'm optimistic.