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Michal Ďuriš • Director

“It’s crucial to me that the topic of my films touches me personally”


- As he prepared for the world premiere of his film Warm Comedy about Depression, Madness and Unfulfilledat EFP’s Future Frames, we caught up with Slovak director Michal Ďuriš

Michal Ďuriš  • Director

A personal and moving affair – that also contains much humour and joy – Slovakian film Warm Comedy about Depression, Madness and Unfulfilledis a film that deals with depression, sadness, happiness and sticky notes. Director Michal Ďuriš is a student at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and we caught up with before the film has its world-premiere as part of European Film Promotion’s Future Frames at Karlovy Vary 2018.

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Cineuropa: Warm Comedy about Depression, Madness and Unfulfilled Dreams seems a very personal film. What inspired you to make it?
Michal Ďuriš: At the origin of every story, there is always the topic. It’s crucial to me that the topic of my films touches me personally; it must be something which I have experienced. It is the personal experience that motivates me the most to share the story with the world through my work.

In this particular case, the title of the film represents the topic itself and its frame. I wrote down my own experiences and situations I was involved in and discussed them with the actors. Together we fused the experiences, theirs with my own, and transformed them into the final draft of the screenplay.

You come from a theatre and art background. What led you to filmmaking?
Even though I literally grew up in theatre it somehow always led me to film. My mother Viera Dubačová - amongst a few others – led the alternative theatre scene in Slovakia during the 90s. I admire her effort and work. She inspired and motivated me the most at an early age.

Is there anyone in the Slovak audiovisual and theatre community whose work influences you, to whom you look up to?
Unambiguously my professors, who not only help me as professional consultants, but most of all they are there for me on the personal level; they motivate me and give me moral support. I must name notably Stanislav Párnický, Martin Šulík, Palo Korec and Teodor Kuhn.

While the film deals with many things, it’s concerned with depression. I think it’s one of the most honest and truthful depictions I’ve seen. Was there a deliberate choice to make it different to other cinematic depictions of the illness.
Yes indeed, it was to depict it differently. Depict it as I see it, as I experienced it myself. I also deliberately choose actors which have experienced it on themselves or theirs close surroundings.

It’s a quite chaotic film with various styles and cinematic tricks which mirrors the quite chaotic life of the family. Did you plan a lot of the things you were going to do or was the shoot one of improvisation and experimentation?
Unlike the subject matter the formal part of the movie was fixed. I knew I wanted it to be told in chapters, with rough cuts, things disturbed by the music, utilising a 4:3 ratio, theatre like mise-en-scene, etc.

I think it captures the darkness yet also the humour of the situation of the family. Was it difficult to keep the tone of the film balanced?
Yes it was hard to find the right balance. In editing we figured out that two of the scenes needed to be deleted due to their disturbing content, in that they were portraying ‘madness’. 

How did you find the actors playing the family? They work amazingly well together.
I choose every single one of them by their own life experiences as well as their acting skill. I had to make some hard decisions because they were other great possible cast members as well. 

What projects are you working on next?
At the moment, I am rehearsing a theatre play with Braňo Mosný, an actor from the new Theatre S.T.O.K.A. It´s a cynical monodrama about the downfall of a character and the search for a new identity. Apart from that I am working on a film entitled Opulentná Psota, set in the nostalgic, post-revolutionary period of the 1990s. It tells a story of the members of a multi-generational family living on the periphery of a bigger city. The film psychologically maps each one of them in their specific attempts to find their own happiness.

Contributions from Imelda Selková (Audiovisual Information Centre)

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