Vlatka Vorkapić and Sonja and the Bull within Fresh Danube Films

The film “Sonja and the Bull“ was inspired by your documentary feature “Poppa and the Brothers“. How did you decide to make a turn in the genre, and create a remarkable romantic comedy? Do you think the audience from the region is saturated by films that deal with difficult issues of modern society or contemporary history?

At the very beginning when I pondered on this film, there was no immediate decision regarding the genre. In fact, the idea about this film came to me on its own. While shooting “Poppa and the Brothers”, a documentary on bullfighting in Radošić, I interviewed one of the owners, who spoke of how much he loves his bull, and who at one time said: ‘The bull in one hand, a woman in the other… To tell you the truth, I love this bull more than I love women.’ This sentence resonated and that was it, in a manner of speaking, the beginning of this film. I could have followed the owners of the bulls, but I’ve felt that it would be more interesting to introduce an outsider, which opens a door for comic development. This is how I’ve steered in the direction of romantic comedy, and opened a story about Sonja, a hardcore animal activist and Ante, the son of the chief organizer of bullfighting.

As to a possible saturation with difficult issues, it is true that our world is not the most enjoyable of places, but nevertheless, people experience happiness, fall in love, argue and reconcile, and it was about time such a merry love story was shot.

How did collaboration go with acting couple Judita Franković and Goran Bogdan? Does hard work of young actors and director stand behind such fantastic on-screen chemistry? The results are great.

Judita and Goran are a real film couple, perfect for a romantic comedy. I have worked with Judita a lot, but Sonja’s character is completely different from our previous collaborations. In addition, visual design of the character was entrusted to a master of costume design, Slavica Šnur, with whom I often work. I have never before worked with Goran, which is why I saw all the plays that he participated in thus far, before I invited him for an interview. I prefer this way of getting to know the actors, rather than at test shootings. Judita and Goran are smart and creative. They are a winning combination, and prior to the shooting we had two months of rehearsals. I am looking forward to future collaborations with them, of course, in some different story, perhaps in a dark thriller.

Are you currently working on a new film? Do you plan to return to documentaries, or will you continue to work in fiction? Is it complicated to make a transition from film to theatre direction and vice versa, or do they present two affections that are simply complementing each other?

I have chosen the vocation of independent artist, which means that you always have to work several projects simultaneously. I am currently engaged in the editing of a documentary, and I am also working on a script for a feature film. Working on documentaries has helped me greatly when working on a feature film because you get the hang of reconstructing reality in a shot. At the same time writing and working in theatre help me to recognize dramatic potential in a true life’s story. I make films and plays for the same reasons I watch them: to be reminded that life can be nice, joyful and fun, to be encouraged to try and change what is bad, and thirdly, which particularly refers to documentaries, to seek answers to questions that interest me. At the moment I am absorbed in a script for a children’s animation feature that I’ve written after the play “Cloud Fairy”, and it makes me very happy. A story of little Nim, cloud fairy who tells cloud stories, was very well accepted by children’s theatre audience, which implies that this animated film could end up being a small hit in cinemas. As to film and theatre direction, doing one thing makes me want to do the other. This breaks the routine and gives me greatly desired vigor.

Your film “Sonja and the Bull” is part of the programme of the Fresh Danube Films project, which promotes authors of debut and second films from Danube region. Within this project the film has so far been screened at two festivals – Dorf in Vinkovci and Crossing Europe in Linz. What is your opinion on the significance and importance of initiatives such as “Fresh Danube Films”?

Initiatives such as “Fresh Danube Films” are more than welcome, especially as platforms for future cinematic collaborations.