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Marko Škop • Director

“Fiction enables me to cut right to the core”


- Cineuropa met up with Marko Škop to talk about his latest feature, Eva Nová, which was presented at Toronto

Marko Škop  • Director

Cineuropa sat down with Marko Škop, the director of Eva Nová [+see also:
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interview: Marko Škop
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, which has just won the FIPRESCI Jury Prize in the Discovery section at the Toronto International Film Festival (see the news), to discuss the processes behind the making of this feature and the socio-economic slant to it.

Cineuropa: As a professional documentarian, why did you opt for a fiction feature for your latest project?
Marko Škop:
I strived to achieve an immersion in family intimacy. There is a mother and also her son. There is a love and things that hurt, wrongdoings and misunderstandings that tend to accumulate over the years. There is a great smothering that I wanted to embody with its full intensity. In my documentary films, I respect ethical boundaries as I represent individuals, since I am showing real people and there are boundaries of intimacy that I do not cross. A fiction film enables me to cut right to the core.

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Your documentarian colleagues (for example Peter Ostrochovský, Juraj Lehotský and Peter Kerekes) have also shot or are readying fiction features. Is this a generational phenomenon?
I consider it a natural step for filmmakers to choose various forms of film according to the theme and how they want to handle them. A documentary form suits some themes better, whereas fiction suits others.

How did your filmmaking process differ while preparing and shooting Eva Nová, compared to your previous works?
The on-camera work was completely different, mostly in terms of working with the actors. We took the route of organising rehearsals, where we sought to achieve as profound a portrayal as possible and play with the tiny details. For this, I was able to rely on my experiences conducting long and comprehensive research, which I always do for my documentary works.

Despite it being a fictional story, it has universal dimensions, as it tells a tale about loss and one’s efforts to make amends for past sins. Why did you choose a female protagonist who is a mother and an actress?
A female character enabled me to delve into deeper layers, especially with regard to her relationship with her son. On the other hand, the character of the actress offers different twists, when Eva Nová is herself and when she acts out her petty games. I wanted to expose the personal story of the protagonist consecutively, step by step. As one layer peels back after another, like an onion, we slowly discover the secrets in her life, such as why she cast her son aside, why she started to drink, who she was and what went wrong before she became the person she is now, how she lives, how she acts and what kind of person we are looking at. I wanted our perspective to evolve during the film, in both good and bad ways… Every single country in the world has its own Eva Nová. Every country has its men and women who tasted fame and glory, and then hit rock bottom. It’s an archetypal story of an attempt to make a comeback, even though in this case it is not in terms of one’s career, but rather a private and a personally more intimate one.

The story takes place in Eastern Europe and makes direct reference to the country’s political past (Eva Nová’s career under the former regime) and the socio-economic present (the poor East versus the rich West). Why did you incorporate this aspect into a psychological portrait? Why anchor a universal story in a local background?
I like films that are authentic, depicting a unique background characteristic of a certain space and time. I have always been interested in local things that are under the spell of the global aspect. And I will always be interested in the microworld of a man confronting the world around him. The size of his eyes, the shape of his hands or the tone of his voice – we inherit all of this through our genes, from our parents, and we pass them onto our offspring. We are repetitions of our ancestors, and our children are repetitions of us. From generation to generation we also pass on mental connections, behavioural patterns and spiritual codes. I am intrigued by the theme of hereditary guilt, which is universal.

A Romanian novelist and screenwriter participated in the writing of your script via the TorinoFilmLab workshop. How did that collaboration go?
Razvan Radulescu contributed his opinion on some crucial questions, and it was a very valuable experience. However, I did the day-to-day dramaturgy and fine-tuning with Zuzana Liová and Františkom Krähenbiel here in Slovakia. They provided me with a lot of support.

Do you intend to continue making fiction?
I am currently being tempted to make one documentary and one fiction film. We will see which one will tip the scales.

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