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Vlado Škafar • Director

“In silence, language becomes like a paradise”


- Vlado Škafar is one of the founders of the Slovenian Cinematheque. His new film Dad was the first Slovenian film to screen in the Critics Week sidebar of the Venice Film Festival

Vlado  Škafar  • Director

Slovenian director Vlado Škafar is a man of many interests and talents. Besides making films and writing books, he is one of the founders of the Slovenian Cinematheque and the Cinema Island Film Festival in Izola. His new film Dad was the first Slovenian film to screen in the Critics Week sidebar of the Venice International Film Festival.

Cineuropa: Dad [+see also:
film review
interview: Vlado Škafar
interview: Vlado Škafar
film profile
is obviously a very personal film for you on many levels - literature, football, nature… Does the story have anything to do with your personal life?

Vlado Škafar: The locations are places of my childhood, which came to my mind strongly without any reason after a long time. Like the taste of cake with tea for Marcel Proust, these images opened the past for me. The story does not come from my life but it does come from my heart.

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There’s a scene with the kid’s fictional alphabet. I also had my own alphabet when I was a kid. What does language mean to you?
Language is a place, in which you spend most of your time and, especially in silence, language becomes like a paradise. And sometimes also a space where you create a new world, a new life.

The dialogue between father and son also refers to language issues at some points, like when they talk about wood. You’re a writer, and I have the impression that you primarily regard yourself as a writer rather than as a filmmaker. So for you, what is the relationship between literature and film?
My first love is literature, then film took its place, now books are once again my best companions. It’s true, I like to write and the connection between film and literature will get even deeper in my next films, but I don’t like to write scripts and I more or less forget about them when we start shooting. A written script for a film is a dead thing, I want to do films that are life. The best union between film and literature is when they come together each with their own poetry and language, not when they reproduce one another.

What exactly is the language the characters speak? Is it a dialect of Prekmurje? Why did you decide to set your story there?
It’s a language more than a dialect. Slovenian people don’t understand it. It’s the language of my mother and father.

Why the documentary part? It fits in, but it’s very surprising in such a poetic film.
The idea of the two contrasting days was there from the start: an idyllic, peaceful, contemplative Sunday, and Monday, which for most people means struggle, an almost personal war and a return to the banality of life. It’s hard to do the right thing, to feel and understand, if life throws Mondays at you.

What is the name of the little insects that float on the water? Why do they start and end the film, besides for the fact that the film itself feels like one of those light, airy things?
I think they’re water spiders. When I saw this shot I saw the father’s entire history there. The film’s back story. At first a water spider plays with others, comes together with another, then there’s a family of spiders, then he chases the others, in the end chases his family away, to remain alone. Also, it’s a part of the first sequence of the film that speaks in silence like haiku poetry.

Do you think there’s an audience for your film in Slovenia?
Everywhere and everybody is an audience for this film. I hope we reach many of them.

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