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IFFR 2022 IFFR Pro

Judita Gamulin • Réalisatrice de Leave the Door Open

“J’aime les films où le décor est utilisé pour rendre très nettement ce que cela fait d’être dans la tête des personnages centraux”


- La réalisatrice croate a gagné le Prix Eurimages de développement de la coproduction pour un film dont l’action se déroule dans un magasin IKEA

Judita Gamulin  • Réalisatrice de Leave the Door Open

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

Judita Gamulin, from Croatia, won the Eurimages Co-production Development Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. She presented her project, Leave the Door Open, at Cinemart in the Rotterdam Lab where a three-person jury awarded her €20,000 to support the film’s set-up as a European co-production (see the news). Gamulin spoke to Cineuropa. 

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Cineuropa: What does winning the prize mean to you, how will you use it? 
Judita Gamulin:
For a film that depends on co-production, this prize means everything. This was also a crown to our Cinemart experience in general. We were mesmerised by the reactions, it made us fall in love with our own project again.

Can you describe Leave the Door Open in your own words? 
Leave the Door Open follows a bunch of people coming into a store with high hopes that they will be able to change their entire apartments, as well as their entire lives. But when it comes to making big decisions, a lot comes to the surface and it seems their loved ones may have a completely different vision of their common future. This is when they start doing crazy things to achieve their goal. 

Why did you choose to set the film in an IKEA store?
Psychologically, the store makes us visualise the perfect life and makes us believe we can get it. Physically, the store’s maze-like layout makes us feel at home, but also anxious, tired and lost. This mix results in all our worst characteristics coming to light and appearing as if magnified, which makes it a perfect setting for studying the complex structure of a family. 

In your director’s statement, you mention war trauma. Is this something common, researched, or anecdotal? And who is it experienced by? Why is this subject important in the film? 
This film deals with our collective emotional illiteracy, focusing on the behaviour of Balkan families. I wonder, why is everything that is Scandinavian, everything ‘hygge,’ so appealing to us? Are we trying to escape our identity, the mess and uncertainty of this place? The events that marked this region in the 1990s left us with a collective trauma that we have never analysed, never worked through. Instead, we buried them deep within ourselves and turned them into national heritage, passed from generation to generation. Now, we are trying to mask it with western style — will the suppressed ever erupt?

Single-location films are a genre in their own right. What are examples of them that you like? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this set-up? 
I like to watch films in which the setting is used to paint a clear picture of how it feels to be in the protagonists’ heads. The claustrophobic void of the ski-resort in Force Majeure [+lire aussi :
interview : Ruben Östlund
fiche film
, the golden cage of Festen, the paradox of the island in Portrait of a Lady on Fire [+lire aussi :
interview : Céline Sciamma
fiche film
. Working with this specific setting brings many disadvantages — it is hard to get air in and to give the audience some rest from the claustrophobic atmosphere, it is hard to find poetry in between the shelves and there is not much opportunity to dive into characters’ backgrounds. But at the same time, I believe obstacles make you dig deeper than you usually would. 

Why focus on four families? 
I’m not a scientist, but there is an almost scientific element in this project as this is actually a kind of behavioural research of mine. I’m using each family to ask a different question: what are we willing to do to keep the family together? Why does our home’s doorstep sometimes feel like the highest mountain? How to preserve this beautiful and important family union in some other form? Is ‘two’ the smallest unit of being?

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