In an business which remains to be largely grappling at placing its cash the place its mouth is relating to empowering feminine movie administrators, there’ll all the time be one thing encouraging about seeing a first-time feminine director debut her work at a world movie competition. But whenever you meet writer-director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, it’s laborious to assume that her identify gained’t be one which we proceed to see within the director’s chair for years to return. The Croatian helmer, who has spent a piece of her grownup years in New York, is touching down on the Croisette for the primary time together with her debut characteristic Murina, which is premiering within the Directors’ Fortnight part of the competition tomorrow.
The idea for Murina was largely impressed by Kusijanović’s quick movie Into The Blue, which was an enormous hit on the worldwide competition circuit, nabbing prizes in Berlin and Sarajevo. That movie noticed 13-year-old Julija and her mom flee from an abusive family to seek out refuge on the idyllic Croatian island that she grew up in. Murina, takes the story additional, as we witness the identical character Julija try to interchange her controlling father along with his rich overseas buddy throughout his weekend journey to their dwelling on the Adriatic Sea. In a post-lockdown world, it’s a bewitching sight for vacation-hungry eyes whereas relating themes of male chauvinism, household management, teenage rebelliousness and freedom.
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The movie stars Gracija Filipovic, Danica Curcic, Leon Lucev, Cliff Curtis, Jonas Smulders and Klara Mucci. Kusijanović directs from a script she penned with Frank Graziano. Rodrigo Teixeira’s RT Features, Martin Scorsese’s Sikelia Prods. and Croatian outfit Antitalent produce.
Deadline sat down with Kusijanović, who’s 39-weeks pregnant together with her first child (in unbearably scorching and humid climate situations in Cannes no much less), upfront of her movie’s premiere to speak in regards to the movie’s journey and what it’s like sitting on the precipice what seems set to be some main life adjustments.
DEADLINE: It’s your debut characteristic and right here you’re in Cannes. What an achievement that is already for you. What was your journey like into the director’s chair?
KUSIJANOVIC: I grew up in Dubrovnik, which is a really small metropolis by the ocean. It’s virtually like a fisherman’s village and could be very, very medieval. Growing up there as children, we had been all the time out on the road in large teams. Looking again on the previous, I feel all these video games we performed as children made us actually use our creativeness. We would placed on these large exhibits for the dad and mom each night time, constructing tents and there have been like 20 of us. It actually was like directing. At the age of six or seven, I began as a toddler actress, performing within the theater. But then I didn’t need to pursue performing so I went to supply motion pictures for school. Then I moved to New York and labored as a producer for 5 years. There was one documentary venture the place we didn’t have a director and so I form of stepped in. When I did that, all the pieces made sense and I knew I wished to direct motion pictures.
DEADLINE: What does Murina imply?
KUSIJANOVIC: Murina is a moray eel. It’s the one animal that bits her personal pores and skin to free herself. For me, that was a metaphor of our protagonist. She’s able to even sacrifice her family to flee that place.
DEADLINE: What was the inspiration for this film? How did the thought come about?
KUSIJANOVIC: I grew up on an island with my grandmother and my nice grandmother. During the summers, I used to be free on this island and the distinction of this with stark, harmful nature and hormones, that was form of my upbringing and that impressed my quick movie Into The Blue. That movie is about children utterly free in themselves in distinction to this nature. Nature is violent and their very own violence is in juxtaposition to that. When I completed that movie, I noticed that I actually wished to remain extra in that world. I began writing that very same character, Julija, for the characteristic movie. The world of chauvinism and household relationships and people dynamics began opening up as a result of I used to be additionally spending numerous time in Croatia at a time prepping the film and the character actually got here to me there. Her want for all times, love, wanting extra and wanting to go away her surroundings might be one thing that could be very near me.
DEADLINE: You point out this world of chauvinism – is that one thing you’ve felt uncovered to so much in your life rising up in Croatia?
KUSIJANOVIC: I feel that that mentality exists in all places. Once somebody requested me, “so how much chauvinism do you think there is?” and I mentioned, “you mean in percentages? How long have you got?” There’s as a lot as you permit. It could be a cultural factor although, like in Balkan international locations. But I additionally see the identical factor in any nation on the earth. You comprehend it’s simply what we name it. In the U.S. we name it chauvinism, in Croatia, we name it mentality. In another cultures, it’s perhaps referred to as tradition or to push it additional, customs. I feel that it solely has one identify, which is sexism.
DEADLINE: What was the journey getting this movie financed and off the bottom?
KUSIJANOVIC: I used to be very fortunate. I began financing this movie, in 2017, which was a vital 12 months for all feminine filmmakers. I undoubtedly felt like I used to be making the film in the fitting time. I had simply completed my grasp’s diploma from Columbia, I had premiered a really profitable quick movie and that was form of a calling card as a result of it’s additionally in the identical world of this movie. Another stunning profit I had is that I’m each European and American so the movie was financed each via the non-public fairness from the American and Brazilian sides but in addition European delicate cash. It was actually the fitting time, the fitting venture and all the pieces moved very effectively and easily I’ve to say.
DEADLINE: Where did you shoot this?
KUSIJANOVIC: We shot it on this Croatian Island that my grandmother grew up on and the island I used to be raised on. It was unbelievable as a result of the all of the underwater scenes and like night time scenes in a cave, it was my grandmother who got here up with the placement. She mentioned to me, “why don’t you go and look at that cave, because it’s not so dangerous but it’s very deep. I used to swim there as a girl.” So, it was the right location ultimately. Then the home we shot the Hvar, which could be very stunning. And then the older outdoors which might be outdoors of home. Exterior areas had been shot in Kornati National Park. For me, that was a vital a part of the movie, as a result of I wished the character to be stark and with none vegetation. I wished characters to be utterly uncovered to the solar, virtually like lizards which have nowhere to go and nowhere to cover and all the pieces is fallacious. There’s each want and anger and all the pieces is on the floor.
DEADLINE: How did Covid have an effect on issues for the movie?
KUSIJANOVIC: We’d completed the shoot however Covid did stab us in post-production. It was simply necessary for us to maintain affected person and hold our resilience and hopes up. I began creating different initiatives throughout that point so it was a great way to ponder what the subsequent step shall be.
DEADLINE: Let’s speak in regards to the underwater scenes as a result of there are such a lot of of them and they’re so stunning and so many necessary issues occur in them. How do you strategy these underwater scenes as a director?
KUSIJANOVIC: I feel capturing underwater scene and to simply have a digicam underwater is ineffective. So, until there’s an actual goal and precise scene taking place, then I didn’t actually go below the water as a result of it’s very difficult. So, we might rehearse these scenes out within the dry as in case you’re underwater. There was numerous prep with the actors within the pool. So, these scenes had been really actually enjoyable as a result of it’s virtually a set above water after which we now have an enormous arrange underwater. There’s additional safety as a result of every individual has an individual watching over them underwater so whereas they’re centered on the filming and performing, another person is concentrated on their security. It’s a reasonably large setup really underwater. In the start for rehearsals, I went down with them, however for the shoot. I had this hydrophone, like for synchronized swimming. So, there was a speaker underwater and I used to be with the microphone on high of the water watching the display and directing them. We would have about 40-minute takes with them underwater.
DEADLINE: Tell me a bit in regards to the casting course of.
KUSIJANOVIC: For Into The Blue, I solid Gracija Filipović, my foremost character. I did common casting within the metropolis, there have been like 100 children and I picked her. It was so stunning to work together with her there was an actual synergy between us so I knew I wished to work together with her once more. We grew from having this relationship of me being virtually like a mom and she or he was 13, after which she was 15 and it was extra like an enormous sister and now we’re actually pals. She’s grown up into this very clever, highly effective lady. So, with Murina, I actually focused on constructing the complete solid round her.
She wanted actors had been each proper for the position however who additionally knew methods to help her in such a fancy position the place she’s additionally on display each single second. We did castings together with her and different actors so we may see the dynamics. In pre-production, we did very in depth rehearsals. We additionally lived all collectively for nearly a month on the island the place I grew up in, and these dynamics had been constructed proper there. With bodily prep, security was paramount. Gracija is an expert swimmer and she or he’s been coaching for 11 years and she or he’s a high swimmer. She’s like a fish. In among the scenes, I’d even have to inform her to swim much less professionally!
DEADLINE: What does it imply to you on your debut characteristic to be chosen to play in Cannes?
KUSIJANOVIC: Of course it’s an unbelievable feeling. I’m so proud. But additionally as a result of we now have been ready so lengthy for this to premiere, discovering this out was an actual reduction. As a filmmaker, you all the time really feel that you just took a lot power out of your group, out of your actors, from all people who contributed to this movie. So, this felt like we made this all price it for them. So, it gave me an unbelievable sense of reduction as a result of I’ve a really sturdy sense of accountability to the folks I work with. But when it comes to what it means for me, it’s simply the right competition to premiere a movie, particularly my first movie. It’s undoubtedly going to impression the best way the movie is offered, distributed and now my subsequent movie is financed.
DEADLINE: You’re debuting your first characteristic this week however you’re additionally 9 months pregnant together with your first baby. Lots of firsts on the close to horizon! How does it really feel? Might this be a purple carpet child?
KUSIJANOVIC: It is wonderful – I’m very excited. It’s unbelievable that it’s taking place similtaneously this premiere. It feels prefer it’s raining excellent news in the mean time. But sure, I’m so pregnant proper now. I’m hoping to drive again to Croatia in the mean time however I’m open to delivering the infant in Cannes!
DEADLINE: It’s so nice to see one other feminine director on the market. There’s not sufficient of them. How are you feeling about gender parity within the enterprise in the mean time?
KUSIJANOVIC: Directing a film is all the time laborious and sure, chauvinism does are likely to form of be the overall mode on set, so it takes some power out that’s pointless. I simply did an unbelievable shoot in Mexico a few months in the past and I used to be on set with solely girls. The gaffers, the grip, the DP – all people was a lady and it was very emotional. My DP was additionally pregnant and the gaffer had this little microphone in her ear and I assumed it was only a common microphone however she was listening to her fifth baby on the monitor and I simply thought what an incredible, unbelievable expertise this all was. So, I do assume the temper of working like that is extra inspiring and releasing and I used to be undoubtedly extra focussed on my work because of this.
DEADLINE: What movies or administrators encourage you?
KUSIJANOVIC: Jane Campion. She’s simply wonderful. And I feel to today my favorite film remains to be The Piano. It’s so complicated and has so many layers. The means she portrays a lady as a mom and rivalry with a toddler and her relationship with sexuality and in direction of an oppressive society is wonderful. It’s multi functional movie and it a movie that ages so properly.
DEADLINE: Obviously you’ve received so much occurring personally, however what do you see taking place within the subsequent couple of years for you career-wise?
KUSIJANOVIC: I all the time keep open. Often after I don’t plan issues, the universe finds a option to make issues higher than what I’d have deliberate for myself. But I’m engaged on my subsequent movie and it’s one thing that I’ll hopefully shoot in New York. That is town that I really feel is my second dwelling. It’s undoubtedly formed me into the individual I’m proper now and I really feel an actual reference to that metropolis.