The Woman With A Broken Nose

The 4th Annual Vancouver Serbian Film Fest kicked off at the Hollywood theatre, with The Woman With A Broken Nose, and has been going strong with a string of wildly entertaining films.

Writer/Director Srdan Koljevic talks about his source of inspiration and some of the challenges he faced making this film.

WD: Where did the story for Woman With A Broken Nose come from?

SK: I was inspired by a feeling: by an emotion. I see a lot of my friends in myself, in a way emotionally and intimately stuck at this moment in our lives. I wanted to make a film about our recovery, about overcoming the scars or the wounds of the past and finding some kind of light at the end of the tunnel: resetting yourself and learning how to recover through love, in the broadest sense of the word. It's about people saving each other in different ways.

The symbol in the film is this bridge between new Belgrade and old Belgrade: the bridge between the past and the future. We are somehow stuck in this moment of the present. We are learning how to move towards the future.

We all have some sort of damage from the past. When I drive every day across the bridge I always get stuck in a traffic jam, and when you're stuck in a traffic jam you usually look through the window and see the faces of other people. I look, and think how all of them, in different ways, are emotionally damaged.

I wanted to make a film about overcoming these scars and wounds and offering some kind of hope and positive energy without closing ones eyes to reality as it is. That was my intention in the first place.

Then I wove it through a mosaic structure of three story lines of people all dealing with some kind of loss or emotional wound and how they were overcoming these difficulties, moving forward to finding new hope, and learning to open up emotionally. Lots of people close up when they're confronted with some kind of loss.

WD: This is a very complex series of stories that are so gracefully woven together. There must have been some enormous challenges you faced.

SK: The biggest challenge was to find the balance between the stories, to make it feel natural, and to make a film that you perceive as a whole. What I don't like about films that are structured with multiple story lines, is that sometimes they seem like a patchwork.

I wanted to orchestrate a story which would feel like a piece of music as a whole, and blend together: not cut to pieces and stitched.  That was the biggest challenge for me as a writer and director.

The film is on the edge of drama with elements of humour and so it's this style you also want to keep with the actors. All of them had to be precisely on this same line. For me as a director that was a challenge.
I was lucky to work with great actors who were devoted to the project. The challenge was to fine tune them so that they were all in the same orchestra.
When you're doing a film like this a lot of the characters never meet because they're in separate stories but you have to have in your head the tuning of the whole film.

WD: Was there anything you didn't expect to happen, that excited you about this film?

SK: First of all I was very happy that all the actors that I had imagined  would be really good for the roles liked the project and wanted to do this film. It was a low budget film, but looks like an ok production, so many of the actors could have done some other projects abroad, but they wanted to do this project.

There was this energy from people involved in the project. They liked the script in the initial phase, and everything evolved in a way that encouraged me.

I worked with a director of photography who's been my friend for years and with whom I made my first feature film. We very carefully planned everything: the colors of the film, blues, greens, cyans, the reflections and rain. The big surprise was that everything was going fine: it was all blending in a way I imagined it to be. Everybody involved really naturally invested their energy. It was really a beautiful experience shooting this film.

When I work with my DOP, before we shoot we very carefully examine the visual style and then we build it. In this case what we did was to build this visual style with the main gamma of color, then we contrasted it with the costumes where we put colors that were vivid to help build the characters.

We contrasted the music and the image. The image has a blue/green/gray rainy feeling and the music has the feeling of early rock and roll: original early ex-Yugoslav rock and roll which has this kind of nostalgic, naive, optimistic sound. Combining these elements you build something that is three dimensional.

WD: The music is very impressive. It does have that nostalgic 1960s feel to it.

SK: Somehow I thought, even during the writing of the script, that I needed this music because subconsciously it builds emotion and thinking of an era when there was more optimism. I like to remind ourselves and the characters that this is possible.

WD: Because there are so many intricate weavings of the stories, I want to ask you if you are still on friendly terms with your editor?

SK: (laughs) Yes, my editor, as with my DOP, is a friend from film school. We've been working together now for almost two decades. Editing was a long process but the script was written in a way that was basically the shape of the film in the end. It was already in the script: the whole interweaving of the stories. The fine tuning is always in the editing. He's also one of my closest collaborators: I really like to work with him.

There are always good sides and bad sides to everything. The bad side is that you don't have many chances to work in the industry like here but the good side of it is that when you do, you work with people you want to work with.

WD: What would you like people to take away from your film?

SK: I would really like the people to take away some optimism and some hope and some kind of re-setting to remind them of the basic important things in life. I think that we all need this from time to time: this re-evaluating of what's really important and what's not so important.

I think that if people come to see this film I think that even though it has a dramatic subject, they will leave the theatre feeling good, and positive. I'm always satisfied when we get this reaction from the people.

For tickets and times, check out the Hollywood theatre.

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