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KARLOVY VARY 2018 East of the West

Giedrė Beinoriūtė • Director of Breathing into Marble

"The characters might not be easy to understand, but they are always very convincing"

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- KARLOVY VARY 2018: We sat down with Lithuanian director Giedrė Beinoriūtė to discuss her dark psychological thriller Breathing into Marble

Giedrė Beinoriūtė  • Director of Breathing into Marble

After making a number of well-regarded and award-winning shorts, Lithuanian director Giedrė Beinoriūtė makes her feature debut with the dark psychological thriller Breathing into Marble [+see also:
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interview: Giedrė Beinoriūtė
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]
, which follows the fortunes of a well-to-do family whose lives are fractured when they adopt a young boy. Before the film received its international premiere in Karlovy Vary’s East of the West competition, Cineuropa chatted to Beinoriūtė to find out more about the film.

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Cineuropa: What was it about Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė’s novel that inspired you to adapt it?
Giedrė Beinoriūtė:
 I’ve known of the author for a long time and was always interested in her creative work. Černiauskaitė has the ability to create very interesting, multi-layered and real characters. They might not be easy to understand, but they are always very convincing. That kind of character is Izabelė from Breathing into Marble – that woman attracted me like a magnet. In the book, I also came across many other topics that I can very much relate to, like the relationship between a man and a woman, people’s responsibility for each other and the subject of a rejected child. Another reason is that the atmosphere of the novel is so engaging, intense and very cinematic. As one literature critic said, “You can almost feel the characters breathing down your neck.”

The entire cast is excellent, but how did you find young Joris Baltrūnas, who plays young Ilja? His performance is both sympathetic yet chilling.
Joris is my friends’ son. I’ve known him since he was born, so you might think that I didn’t even have to do any casting for this role. But the truth is that he lives in the countryside with his family, far from Vilnius, where I live, and I never thought he could act in a movie. But after testing out many children for the role, we were about to start shooting and still didn’t have an actor to play young Ilja. That’s when I remembered Joris. It sounded like a crazy idea, but the more we thought about it, the more obvious it was that he was the child we were looking for.

You flirt with a number of genres here – horror, family drama, coming-of-age film. What are some of your influences, and how are they reflected in Breathing into Marble?
I think I have always been, and still am, influenced by different contemporary authors as well as the Lithuanian cinema tradition. When I was a student, I admired Lars von Trier’s work, and then later I discovered Haneke and Mike Leigh (we would watch his films with the actors during rehearsals for Breathing into Marble). I’d also mention Three Colours: Blue by Krzysztof Kieslowski, Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet [+see also:
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trailer
interview: Jacques Audiard
interview: Jacques Audiard and Tahar R…
film profile
]
and No Country for Old Men by the Coen brothers. A few years ago, Amat Escalante’s Heli [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
also made a huge impression on me.

This is your first feature. Was it a difficult shoot, or did you feel comfortable with a wealth of shorts and a mid-length feature already on your CV?
Of course experience helps. For example, I was confident working with child actors because I had already made several movies with kids. Also, part of the creative team came from the sets of my previous movies.

There were difficult things – the script is set during different seasons of the year, so we had to split the shoot into several sessions that we spread out throughout the entire year. Between the sessions, we started to work on the editing, so the process was really exhausting.

The film has premiered in Karlovy Vary’s East of the West competition. What are your hopes for the festival?
I’m really looking forward to meeting the audience, seeing their reactions, answering their questions and responding to their comments. I’m also eager to see my colleagues’ new works.

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