The short story “All of That” by Ognjen Spahić was featured in B O D Y’s Sunday European Fiction’s on June 30. It was also the basis for a short film by Montenegrin director Branislav Milatović that has appeared in film festivals throughout Europe, recently winning the Gjorgi Abadziev Award at Macedonia’s Asterfest international short film festival.
Milatović did an interview with Montegrin online daily Vijesti after finishing the film that appears here in English translation with their permission.
Q: You have now finished filming your new short film. What are your impressions after finishing this new work?
Branislav Milatović: I filmed my second short movie this June (2011) under the working title “All of That” on location in the National Park of Durmitor. The film was based on the short story by Ognjen Spahić, who I collaborated on the film scenario with. This film was supported by the Ministry of Culture of Montenegro, and the production company Montenegrin Art Production. I worked on the production for a year and am very satisfied with the results.
Q: You worked on the film scenario with the author. How much did you diverge from the original piece?
Milatović: Deviation from the original is inevitable, but in this case it was kept to a minimum as the story was already very cinematic. The structure of the story, the characters and their relationships are very textured and perfectly adapted for cinematic language. Apart from a few dramatic deviations, the main change was in the location of the action. Here, instead of using Skadar lake as the setting, we chose the wide countryside of the national park, which leant its own atmosphere and lyrical sensibility.
Watch the trailer for “All of That” (Sve To) with English subtitles
Q: What is your standpoint on the interpretation of a piece of art from one media to another?
Milatović: Literary texts have always been used as the basis for dramatic arts, and film is not an exception. The majority of films draw on the wealth of imagery, energy and emotion available through great literature. However, if the film only transposes the literary work into filmic language it cannot capture the same weight and meaning of the original. In both the recent films I have made based on short stories, I betrayed the authors, but not fundamentally. If I had only stuck to the writing, the results would have simply been illustrations.
Q: The film talks about the relationship between a father and son, played out against an unusual situation. What intrigued you about this story?
Milatović: Unlike the mother, who is the home from which we all came, the father represents the other half of our existence: the realm of thought, the acquisition of wealth, law and order. He teaches us and shows us our path in this world. In this film, the boy’s father is scared by a childhood trauma – after having been told not to cry and show emotion at the funeral of his parents. For the rest of his life, he holds a grudge against his uncle for inflicting such harsh rules upon him. For this reason, the father is upset by the traditional Orthodox rituals of death and burial common in Montenegro.
In order to avoid his son’s insistent questions about death, the father wants to protect the boy from the adult world. In that way, he is also unconsciously protecting himself. The father’s uncle again takes the role of someone who takes death simply as part of life. He introduces the boy to the concept of death by taking him to the village graveyard, while the father is unaware.
The film highlights the lack of communication between people and the unseen consequences of what we do in life, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Q: What are your influences in the film world and did they have any influence in this work?
Milatović: Influences can often be a burden. In this film I didn’t have any interference from other authors. However, perhaps I was unconsciously influenced – that remains to be seen in the final version. Of course, I do have heroes in the world of cinematography, but I am more connected with the work of regional artists whose work is rooted in local events and atmosphere: Saša Petrović, Živko Nikolić and Emir Kusturica. They are the ones who founded cinema in this region, and I wanted to make a Montenegrin film, not a film for Montenegro.