Olmo Omerzu • Director
"Primarily, I concentrated on the characters, which I wanted to use as a sort of viewfinder"
- KARLOVY VARY 2018: Cineuropa talked to Czech director Olmo Omerzu about Winter Flies and the different approach he adopted when making the film
Slovenian-born FAMU graduate Olmo Omerzu unveiled his latest work, Winter Flies [+see also:
interview: Olmo Omerzu
film profile], in the main competition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and managed to add another prize to his trophy cabinet, the Best Director Award. His latest offering marks a slight departure compared to his previous films, which the director addressed in a discussion with Cineuropa.
Cineuropa: Winter Flies revolves around the coming-of-age conventions that appeared in your previous films. What attracts you to this kind of story?
Olmo Omerzu: In this case, I did not write the script; it was Petr Pýcha. He sent me the first draft because he saw A Night Too Young [+see also:
interview: Jiří Konečný
film profile] and liked my work with the protagonists. And since my previous film, I have grown a bit tired of working with young, non-professional actors. But what I liked about the story was the children’s world, and I did not get the feeling that the script was written by an adult from an outsider’s perspective. What really attracted me to the project was the fact that with my previous films, I knew what those movies would look like; I had everything under control. But with this one, I knew things wouldn’t work out if we didn’t give the young protagonists some space. I worked like a sort of curator who had some things ready, but not everything. There might be some aspects of the coming-of-age genre in Winter Flies, but first and foremost, I concentrated on the characters, which I wanted to use as a sort of viewfinder, and the story was supposed to be based entirely on the children’s world.
When you say you did not write the script, did you revise it at any point?
Petr Pýcha, the author, and I worked on the script together in the sense that we tweaked the dramaturgy of it. I wanted to adopt a different approach for this project, working more intensively with rehearsals and improvisation, so whenever something came up, I called Petr to tell him and to talk about how we could fit it into the script because I wanted to focus entirely on these two particular boys and to get them fully into the script. In a way, the film is also a portrait of them. But I also wanted to capture the topic of the camaraderie between these two boys who are completely different and how it transpires that this kind of camaraderie is possible even when you have such different characters. At their ages, 12 and 14, there are no labels or barriers, and their sense of freedom is much greater.
You describe the creative process on the project as fluid. Is this the reason why the title also kept changing (Jackdaws on the Road, Zigi Zigi Boom)?
The early version of the script was called Jackdaws on the Road because we were working with the motif of jackdaws in the plot. What I find interesting in the English title, Winter Flies, is the ambiguity. On one hand, the title refers to the flies that play a certain role in the story, and on the other hand, it also emphasises the season during which the story is set. However, the ambiguity is not preserved in the Czech title, which would translate as the very specific Everything Will Be. That is tied more to the finale of the film and refers to what will happen to the boys in a couple of years.
When you were presenting the film, you mentioned that it also deals with latent homosexuality.
I am not sure if that was the correct term, but what I meant was the passion you feel for the world at that age, for everything – the zeal to discover absolutely everything. Sexuality at that age does not involve any kind of taboo. Partially, it is also formed by the things they hear; it’s the product of those macho comments that the boys make. Some sexual tendencies do appear – some heterosexual, some homosexual – so it is a sexuality that is unformed. And that is what interested me – discovering sexuality as something new.
Are you already working on your next feature?
Petr Pýcha and I have written a short film, of approximately 30 minutes, which we will shoot in January. We are also currently finishing the script to a project called Admin that we already have in development, and we would like to start shooting it next year.
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