This epic Croatian feature follows multiple timelines and plots amid the past 30 years, a period full of war and ethnic strife in the Balkans. It’s visually arresting in its sweeping scenes, which are full of heavy drama, impeccable acting, and ambitious cinematic tropes, a combination that at times almost screams for Academy Award attention.
What do you hope to convey to the rest of the world about the past 30 years in Croatia?
I am afraid that the topic I’ve picked does not tell only about Croatian history. Hatred is something we witness almost daily not only in the Balkan region, but everywhere. If it is not hatred towards other nation, then it is toward other religion, or a different political strategy, a different sexual orientation, a neighbor’s car, and so on. There are many reasons for intolerance, because it is much easier to express a negative feeling, than a noble one, such as love or compassion. I want to bring those who hate face to face with this film. I want them to take a look at themselves in this cinematic mirror and ask themselves if they are really so happy hating someone, anyone.
Do films like this help Croatians heal from their troubled past?
I would say that it has therapeutic effect. My aim was to tell, using cinematic means, that the highest human principal, such as love, can overcome all the ethnic differences, troubled heritage, political, or social intolerance. Facing the audience over past few months, I believe I’ve reached that aim.
Was it a commercial success in Croatia?
Actually it was. One of the daily newspapers declared that The High Sun was champion in the category of art-house film regarding box office. The film had great visibility after Cannes.
Is Croatian filmmaking influenced by modern American techniques?
I simply adore the best from the American and European, same as from the Asian cinematography. What I consider to be the most important goal is to communicate important and high topics with the audience, no matter where the movie was filmed or where is it consumed. If the audience around the globe understands the message of the story, then we can say that the piece is universal, and that is of crucial importance for me.
Did the great acting take a lot of directing?
We have had intensive and long rehearsals prior to shoot. My two lead actors are great, hard-working, brave young people who want to explore. We searched for subtle differences between the characters, all the while keeping in mind that it was important to create the impression that our three different couples make one love story through their identical faces. I adore actors and I always try to give them ever more difficult tasks, knowing that, no matter how hard those tasks can be, they always enjoy such a process and find their essence in it.
Was showing off the beautiful landscape of Croatia a motivation?
What I was looking for filming this beautiful nature was that the beauty of the nature helps us plunge into the characters, looking for their inner beauty. On the other hand, the nature, compared to the society, has some inner wisdom and calmness and works as a constant reminder what is important and what is not important. We should think about it more often.