Interview with Ivona Juka
Director of "You Carry Me"
Karlovy Vary 2015 - East of the West Competition
Name: Mirona Nicola
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @mironatly
Ivona Juka has seen the premiere of her first feature, You Carry Me, after previously having attended KVIFF to search for facilities for post-production of sound, images and VFX. She shared with us the process of making this labour-intensive film and details on what drives her as a writer and director.
What kind of projects were you involved in previously to this first feature?
I graduate Directing in the Film Academy in Zagreb, and I made short fiction films which were selected and awarded at both student and professional festivals. I made one professional feature documentary, Facing the Day, which had theatrical distribution and became a huge hit in Croatia. I'm working with my sister, Anita, who is a producer. This first feature is a co-production with Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia, and also got support from Eurimages.
Your film has received good reviews in Croatia.
It was really amazing. We were surprised in some way, because so many great critics were so united in a positive opinion. After a long time, this is the first Croatian film which is so deeply in the present. I wanted to make a story about characters who are very active; sometimes they might go in the wrong direction and cause more trouble for themselves, but they are restless. I also wanted to make a film with light at the end. So in our opinion, we have a happy end, even if maybe not in the classical sense.
The three main character are all female, but their different ages and conditions create different challenges for each of them.
I really wanted to make a story about the relationship between daughters and fathers. The daughters are the leading characters, but, for example, in Dora's story, the father and daughter are equal. It makes sense, because he is at a point of fatherhood when he is 'the most father'. She needs him, she depends on him. So it's logical that in that story he will play a stronger role, than in the others when the daughter is more mature. But when I'm thinking about storytelling I'm not so much attracted if someone is male or female. I have to admit I don't care. I just care about the character. But why not female?
You also authored the script.
I wrote the script myself, but Anita went with me to many script development workshop,where we had the opportunity to work with some amazing people- for example Kit Carson, Martin Sherman, Tim Squire. Someone asked me how much of the story was made in the editing room. I said almost nothing. We edited almost by the script. But still, the editing wasn't really a simple job, because we have huge scenes, whit complicated mise en scene. We had a huge amount of work in post production as well. We had 7000 foleys, then atmospheres... you need time to record and edit that. It was a huge production. We shot on 92 locations. We have 88 characters in the movie. Post-production was very very demanding.
The actress who is playing Dora is fantastic. How did you discover her?
We had 250 children on audition and I noticed her on the first day. She had problems- talking in a high pitched voice, pronounciation.. But she was willing to work to improve them. We almost went for another girl, but I liked Helena during the workshop process. She is the complete opposite to the character: she's shy, she's very modest. She's just staring at you when you're explaining her something and you don't know if she's really paying attention. But when you say 'action', she's a beast!
I would like to stress that in this movie I've got so many great supporting character and actors. Huge names in Croatia, who were willing to be part of this story. And they made this film really stronger with their performances in sometimes such small parts.
What do you think will be the future of the film commercially?
It was not my aim to make a commercial film. For this movie the distributor told us he is expecting 300 viewers. He said it's a great movie, but in Croatia nobody wants to watch a 2 and a half hour drama. I have to admit that I am not interested at all in that. I like to make movies with strong plots, because I believe in storytelling. I'm really attracted to character-driven stories, and those stories are not commercial. I'm really attracted to human beings, they are always in the centre of my movies.