Urska Djukic • Director of Good Girl
“I had the feeling of watching a bouquet of virgins about to explode”
- Cineuropa met up with young Slovenian director Urska Djukic, who tells us about her feature debut project Good Girl, on the occasion of the Cinemed Meetings
Cineuropa met up with Slovenian director Urska Djukic on the occasion of the 41st Cinemed Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival where she pitched in the Development Aid Scholarship session of the Cinemed Meetings the project Good Girl, which will be her feature debut after the well-received short films Bon Appétit, La Vie ! (2016) and The Right One (co-directed with Gabriel Tzafka as part of the Factory - Southeast Europe and presented at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2019), and who is currently participating in the 39th session of the Cinéfondation residence of the Cannes Film Festival. The project Good Girl is led in production by Marina Gumzi for Nosorogi, a structure on the ascent (Stories from the Chesnut Woods [+see also:
film profile] by Gregor Božič was well-received in the Discovery section in Toronto this year, and Playing Men [+see also:
film profile] by Matjaž Ivanišin won the Vesna award for best Slovenian documentary after its world premiere at FID Marseille and screening in competition at Sarajevo in 2017, among other festival appearances).
Cineuropa: Where did the idea for Good Girl come from?
Urska Djukic : With my producer Marina Gumzi, who is also my co-writer, we started writing immediately after a concert we went to last year. It was the choir of a catholic school for girls. It was really fascinating: thirty girls aged between 15 and 17-years-old went up on the stage, they were wearing white bustiers that were really tight and long white skirts. We could already tell just how much their bodies were going through big changes. They started singing a very energetic Slovenian folk song and it was a very sensual experience, in a way. I had the feeling of watching a bouquet of virgins about to explode. In the front row were three priests who were also captivated by this performance, with huge grins on their faces. And I knew that they were seeing what I was seeing, because it was so obvious! This made me think. When I was young, I sometimes felt a few pangs of shame regarding sexual impulses. Though my family wasn’t religious, my mother respected the traditional values of Christianity and I was raised that way, as a “good girl.” Later, I reached the conclusion that these Christian values were embarrassing regarding sexuality. It’s a topic that has always interested me, one which I researched several times in the past through several projects of animated short films. After that concert, I decided to explore the topic in my first feature film because I feel that it is something important that I need to express. The story of Good Girl is that of Lucija, a sensible 15-year-old girl who starts attending a catholic high school in Ljubljana and who sings in the choir. She meets a beautiful girl, more charismatic and open than she is, who begins to influence her. Lucija also realise that singing plunges her in sensations that open a door to certain fantasies, but she soon notices that the environment of the school isn’t a very open one and that all of that stuff isn’t very suitable to young girls, hence her feelings of guilt and shame. She therefore suppresses all her instincts, but in doing so, she creates inside herself some scalding sensations, like a time-bomb… I want to bring her to that point in order to question the environment we are raised in. When we are young, we copy what other people do and there comes a time, for each one of us I hope, where we begin to question everything around us, our parents, religion, etc.
Are you trying to paint a portrait of contemporary Slovenia through this story?
Today, in Slovenia, we can live very freely, but people still make very conservative choices. The passing of time hasn’t yet done all its work. I’ve read testimonies from women who lived in the early 20th century and the relations between men and women were completely different: female pleasure was a deadly sin. I think that things get better from one generation to the next, but in a catholic environment it is of course slower, with stricter rules, marriage, and the relations between men and women being perceived solely through the perspective of the reproduction of the species, ignoring completely the sexual energy which is an essential component of the energy of life.
What would be the perfect planning for the film?
By the end of December, I will have a first version of the script, which will of course require more work. With Marina Gumzi, we want to take our time to develop the project, do some research, find a great young actress, which will be very important because I want to create a very sensual and tactile experience, and she will have to carry the film. All of that work and the financing will be for next year, and I’m hoping to shoot in 2021.
(Translated from French)
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