Jure Pavlović is representing Croatia in the Generation Section of the 65th Berlinale Film Festival this year. His short film Piknik tells the natural but powerful story of a boy and his father, whose life and fate got defined by the war. We asked Jure during the Berlinale, about his story, his country’s filmmaking system and his passion for short films.

Your film Piknik feels very personal, a true coming-of-age story. What was your inspiration? Is it a personal story?

Although it doesn’t come directly from my family history (luckily, never had anyone in prison), the truth is that I have also experienced (and quite often I still do) problems in communication with my father. Maybe an even bigger inspiration were situations that I have often witnessed with some of my close relatives and a lot of other families in Croatia and the Balkans in general: they are affected by their loved ones inability to adapt to everyday life after having been through war, even though it was such a long time ago.

You took one family’s story, and turned it into a depiction of a whole generation, whose life got affected in the war. How do you feel about representing the aftermath of the war?

My film basically speaks about the aftermath of the war through the clash of two generations, that are present in today’s society in the Balkans. The first is my parents’ generation among which many went through the battlefield with a rifle in their hands. A lot of people who were glorified and proclaimed heroes in the immediate post-war period, ended up on social margins, disappointed in a system that does not provide them gratification that they feel they deserve. Many of them still live in the past and they are really proud of their war stories. They are heroes of the past. But the younger generation doesn’t care for old heroes. Their heroes are professional footballers, rap stars and celebrities instead of a father with boring war stories.

Both the boy and the father does a very natural acting, are they professional or non-professional actors? Which one do you prefer more in your films?

The father is a professional actor while the boy is a non-professional actor which I casted on an audition. Their chemistry is crucial to the film. I like to work with both professional and non-professional actors, I find it is important that the actor understands the role and approaches it from real life experience.

Where did you study filmmaking? Does the Croatian film system helps the young, freshly graduated filmmakers with their first films?

I graduated film and TV directing at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb. Truth be told, until recently Croatian system was quite inert regarding debut filmmakers, but now with the development of HAVC (Croatian Audiovisual Centre), things have changed for the better for young directors of short films and debut features. We have a funding system that allows shorts to be shot as well as script and project development funding that allows directors to concentrate on their projects.

You were here last year with the script, at the Short Film Station of Berlinale Talents. How did your script improved here, and after Berlin?

I developed the script before Berlin, at the Sarajevo City of Project program, under the guidance of Izeta Građević, but I wasn’t yet ready to succesfully solve all the problems of the script. Then later in Berlin the script became more mature and I had a great working experience, especially working with tutor Pavel Jech with whom I mostly discussed the characters, their needs and wants. The work I did with him was really a foundation for the later work on the script and even the work with the actors, because in each moment I was sure about the feelings of my main characters.

 

 

How does it feel being present at the Berlinale Generation this year now, with your finished film?

Of course it is a great feeling, Berlinale is a fantastic venue for a world premiere and I cannot wait to see my baby’s first steps. 🙂

What does the short film format mean to you?

Short film is a beautiful format because it enables you to make a big emotional impact in a short form. I really love short films and I think it is a form that is as equally important as feature film and I will surely return to it, even after my first feature.

Have you seen anything good or inspiring film lately (feature or short)?

I am seeing really great and diverse short films on festivals around the world and it is exciting how by watching the shorts you truly get a feeling of how art comes in different forms. From the features I found Leviathan to be an impressive piece of a “big” film that really pushed me on many different levels.

What do you think about the Generation selection this year? 

I haven’t watched any of the Generation films this year, but I cannot wait to start!

 

The screen Piknik at the Berlinale Generation 14+ selection several times at the festival:

  • February 10th, 17:30 / Cinemaxx 1
  • February 12th, 14:30 / Cinemaxx 1
  • February 13th, 13:00 / HKW
  • February 14th, 11:00 / Cinemaxx 1