Ignas Jonynas and Kristupas Sabolius • Director and screenwriter of Invisible
"Our choreographer was also an important scriptwriter, as he wrote the whole choreography of the two characters’ feelings"
- We sat down with Ignas Jonynas and Kristupas Sabolius to talk about their second, San Sebastián-screened film, Invisible, which addresses topics such as toxic masculinity and media manipulation
Six years after their first time taking part in the New Directors section of the San Sebastián Film Festival with The Gambler [+see also:
interview: Ignas Jonynas
film profile], Lithuanian filmmakers Ignas Jonynas and Kristupas Sabolius visit the Basque city once again to present Invisible [+see also:
interview: Ignas Jonynas and Kristupas…
film profile]. This visually rich piece of work tackles a diverse range of powerful topics, resulting in a film that is emotionally moving as well as intellectually stimulating.
Cineuropa: Your first feature won myriad awards and plaudits; did this put more pressure on you while making your sophomore film, or did it give you more confidence?
Ignas Jonynas: I think each film and each movement in art are precious for you as a person. You try to find the best way to deliver your ideas. We start from an idea – what’s bothering us or what could be interesting for our society – and then we try to find the best way to convey it. We try to find an entertaining way to talk to the audience about things. The biggest pressure is yourself.
Kristupas Sabolius: The average amount of time we spend writing is four years. Digging into a topic that is important for us takes up all the time. The most difficult thing is to find common ground.
The producer of the TV show says, “People want sad stories with happy endings.” If that’s true, your film is going to have a tough time of it with the audience. What do you think?
KS: In the movie, we talk about false expectations. That’s how television works: they create the promise of fake happiness. That’s also how capitalism works: you’re going to win the jackpot and become a millionaire. Nothing of this, or at least 99% of it, ever happens. You remain stuck in this mediocre bubble usually, which is neither tragic nor glorious. But tragedies are important, and that’s what the Greeks discovered. Tragedy is an exaggeration, of course, but it’s important to eliminate false expectations in order to better understand that these false expectations are leading you into some kind of mist.
The way you shoot nature makes it feel almost sacred and pure, in contrast with the human characters, who are far from it. What was your intention with this?
IJ: Through nature, we wanted to show the wild dimension of a human being, contrasting it with the spiritual one, which we show through religion. The question is how to balance it out. All through the film, you see how these two realities are always intertwining.
KS: And also, nature is sacred, in a way, and there is a relationship between nature and dance. If you think about dance, there are two dimensions: one that can be seen, and other that is internal, which you can feel. We think that’s a good way to talk about the truth. Nature, for us, represents an invisible truth because you cannot see the “real” nature; you can see beautiful images of animals, but nature is something much wilder, but always truthful. There are no lies in nature – that’s an invention by human beings.
How did you prepare the choreography? Are the actors professional dancers?
IJ: That was tricky, as the characters in the film are richly layered, and through movement, you see a lot of things about them that they can’t fake through that movement. The main actor [Dainius Kazlauskas] was my classmate, and I know his background: he was a professional dancer, but that was 25 years ago. So he had to train a great deal, and it was very challenging for him – we had two months of very intense rehearsals. The actress who plays the dancer [Paulina Taujasnkaité] has some ballet experience. She wasn’t a professional in this area but has been involved with it for years. The choreographer was extremely important in helping them.
KS: Our choreographer was also an important scriptwriter, as he wrote the whole choreography of these two characters’ feelings. We tried to write it down in the script, but it’s impossible to put down in words how the chemistry of the dance happens, as it’s very subtle.
One of the characters finds solace in the church, while the other discovers new horizons in TV shows. Are the media a new kind of god?
IJ: Yes, I think so. Images in general are a new god, because we live in a world of images and are surrounded by them. We are very dependent on them: you only have to look at social networks and how people present themselves. They can be completely depressed but they will still flaunt their impressive lives all the time.
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