Gregor Valentovič • Director of Kid
“There’s beauty in the small details we tend to overlook”
by Laurence Boyce
- As his short film Kid prepared to screen at EFP’s Future Frames at Karlovy Vary, we caught up with Slovak filmmaker Gregor Valentovič to talk about it
Gregor Valentovič’s Kid follows friends Hana, Bažo, Maja and David who have always been inseparable. But as Hana, Bažo, Maja begin to head towards different directions in life – by moving away or getting married – David approaches his thirties and finds nothing is changing.
An intelligent comment on growing older that include strong central performances and confident directing from Slovakian director Valentovič. With Kid due to have it’s world premiere as part of Future Frames and Karlovy Vary (28 June-6 July), Cineuropa talked to the student of the Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava about what influenced the movie.
Cineuropa: Are the themes explored in Kid something that you have experienced?
Gregor Valentovič: Yes, the film is pretty autobiographical. As it was my last movie as a student I really wanted to be as honest as possible with myself, with my teachers, classmates, friends and family. Not everything that happens in the movie happened to me particularly though. There’s lot I heard from my friends and some that is completely made up for dramatic purposes.
‘Coming-of-age’ films and films about middle or old age are common. But those surrounding the cusp of turning 30 are much more rare.
It’s true I was aware there are millions of coming-of-age films (there’s many I myself love) and I wanted to show that even when you’re finally okay with who you really are and what profession you will probably settle for, there’s so many other questions that arise even after that. What’s gonna happen to lifelong friendships? What if I marry a wrong person? Should I follow my dream job abroad but leave my family and friends behind at home? I was asking these questions and my friends around encouraged me to make a short about it.
Do you think the themes reflect a certain aspect of Slovak society or do you think they are more universal?
Yes, there are some things that come to my mind – like characters talking about moving abroad for better work or looking to live a freer and truer life – that can sound familiar for people in Eastern Europe or post-Soviet countries and therefore somewhat specific for the region I live in. But in general, the human values that are so important to me and my characters: we all share them, I hope.
There’s a slight air of documentary about the film. How did you approach the filming of Kid and was this sense of realism deliberate?
Realism, or authenticity so to speak, is so crucial in my shorts. I look for the authenticity in other fimmakers’ works and I strive for the same. I want to believe in what I see, I want to move people and I myself want to be moved. So I put a lot of effort into work with actors and the way we approach scenes. We improvise a lot, I want my actors (and non-actors) to completely disappear in this “other version of reality” so they themselves forget it’s not really them. It also has to do a lot with the structure of the scenes - I like to pick casual, everyday moments (that can still get bizarre) as the basis of my scripts. There’s so much more “normal” stuff that happens in our lives rather than the dramatic or special and I like to picture that in my movies. There’s beauty in small details we tend to overlook.
Did the cast know each other before the film because there’s a real sense of camaraderie between everyone.
The main four knew each other pretty well, they all studied at the same uni, most of them even in the same acting class. So I deliberately picked these actors that had some pre-existing chemistry. Also part of David’s film family is an actual family, so they were so natural together, I was only lucky to see the scenes unfold in front of my eyes, going ”yay it works!”
What are you looking forward to about Karlovy Vary and Future Frames?
I am excited! I have been going to Karlovy Vary as a regular visitor for six years now, so having a world premiere of my short there this year is such an honour.
You’re developing a mini-series with the main characters of Kid. How is that going?
We are still very much in the writing process with my two co-writers. The story is similar to what happens in Kid but there is so much more depth to it, every main character in the foursome gets his/her own storyline and it’s just a much bigger story in general, going beyond what we see in Kid.
Do you have any future film projects in mind?
I am in the early stages of writing my feature debut. It revolves around one simple middle-class family in the state of change on the verge of fall of socialism in Czechoslovakia between 1988-1992. I hope to get a little twist on the way 1989 is portrayed in Czech and Slovak cinema recently.
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