Tonight at 20:00 in Multiplex Cinema City we will have an opportunity to see the latest film by Kristijan Milić DEAD FISH. Script and the novel it has been inspired by was written by Josip Mlakić, novelist and scriptwriter born in Bosnia and Herzegovina who has received multiple awards for his work.
Milić talked to us about shooting films, cooperation with Mlakić and his latest film.
With your third film, you are returning to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most of the directors from Croatia who have a custom of shooting in BiH were born here, what inspires you to return and shoot here?
Josip Mlakić is from Bosnia and Herzegovina, so it is logical for him to write the stories that take place in the areas he knows very well. For me, as a director, it doesn’t make any difference where the story is happening if the script is interesting.
Your first film THE LIVING AND THE DEAD was dealing with war and phenomena of history repeating itself. Twenty years later you are returning with the story that is happening at the same place 20 years later. How is the change in the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina visible in your films and how big was a difference while shooting?
My first film was shot in Bosnian part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be more precise in Uskoplje (Gornji Vakuf), and the latest one was shot in Mostar. None of them was shot in the actual period so it is very difficult to draw conclusions about situation in the real world from the films. Maybe it would be a better question for someone from the audience who lived in those areas and is still living there.
Directors from our region prefer most of the time to write their own scripts, but you are giving your vote of confidence over and over again to Josip Mlakić and/or Ivan Pavličić. How does your work process look like and why do you chose to let somebody else write for you?
Here director has almost absolute control over the film, except for the financial one, so I see no reason to do a part of the work that I’m not good at. Even if there was a story that I came up with, I would let the professional (scriptwriter) write it for me. Even some of the changes that could be considered director’s part of the work are done by a dramaturg following my instructions. In the case of THE LIVING AND THE DEAD the dramaturg was Ivan Pavličić and for DEAD FISH that part of work was done by Robert Roklicer. When it comes to NUMBER 55 the situation is a bit different as we didn’t need a dramaturg because the scriptwriter (Pavličić) was involved in all parts of the creation of the film as one of my AD’s and director of the second crew, so we could deal with all the problems of the script on location.
DEAD FISH is an ensemble film. That is one of the things that can be traced through all your films – you like working with higher number of actors. What are the benefits of that and how is it to work with a bigger group of actors?
And once again, it all depends on a script. I am not the one who made up those stories, I just liked them and decided to make a movie out of them. And about working with bigger group of actors… It has never been a problem to me. I chose actors that I can trust completely and that way working with more of them becomes more interesting, not more difficult. And, I have a vast experience in working on soup operas and that means working with even more actors.
Although it is dealing with contemporary subject and is happening in presence the film is shot in black and white. Why?
I think black and white technique is legitimate technique and doesn’t have to have anything with time or place of the story, although I am aware of the fact that our “collective subconsience” wouldn’t agree with me. And at the same time, our characters are stuck in times that passed so this technique can be connected to their states of minds. Director of Photography Mirko Pivčević suggested to me to do the film in black and white after he found out that we will not shoot in autumn (as it is in the script), but in spring. As the atmosphere in the film is pretty gloomy we agreed that vivid spring colours would be damaging to the atmosphere. When we started shooting it became amusing to us how some shots looked like the shots from films from old masters of cinema like Hitchcock and Jaramusch. In the end, we were both very happy with our decision and, what is most important, Josip Mlakić, the first author, was also satisfied.
What’s next for Kristijan Milić?
There are several interesting film projects I am involved in at the moment and one of them is WRATH OF GOD, one more script adaptation by Josip Mlakić of his own novel.