How did you decide to make your first feature film as a SF film, a genre very rare in Serbian cinematography?
SF is a perfect framework in which one can tell very deep and personal stories followed by a wide, social metaphore, but moved away from many conventionalisms of the reality. Ederlesi Rising is a story of an astronaut who was forced to go on a long journey with an android of the opposite sex, who is there for his pleasure. Our hero, too, can calibrate her character using software. Over the course of time, our hero falls in love with the picture of the woman he has created by himself and wishes she was a real person, to delete that connection to software, that predictability… and there arises the problem.
Aside from the esthetic displacement which is obvious from the trailer, Ederlesi Rising is stylized in drama sections as well. Although these drama sections are fundamentally melodramatic, in time one gets an impression that the characters are in some kind of a meta space, like in purgatory. That’s why we could say that as the story progresses, the whole film looses contact with the reality, and not only the main character.
While many spectators relate SF firstly with an action and others with dystopia, there is also romance in your film, the gentle one, and eroticism too, and intriguing anthropological questions. What was in your focus?
Our idea was to tell the metaphorical, dreamy love story and to make a visually expressive film. This visual expressiveness is very important because while it allows the film to stand out from the sea of films produced today, this expressive process that has been carried out throughout the film carries with it a strong emotional charge. The film is essentially deeply melodramatic in its core and carries a great deal of tenderness that is in antagonism with the dystopian context in which the film unfolds, a rigid future resembling a radicalized version of Chinese corpo-communism.
Two main and almost the only characters - the male cosmonaut and the android in the shape of a beautiful young woman - are portrayed by the charismatic Slovenian actor Sebastian Cavazza and the American actress of Serbian descent, Jessica Stojadinovic Stoya, known for adult films, which attracted huge attention of some media during the shooting of the film. Why did you make such a casting choice?
Stoya has been tied to this project from the start. When we first considered who would be ideal for the role of a person who is not a person, for the role of an android, which existsonly for the satisfaction of the other character, we immediately realized that conceptually Stoya would be an ideal solution. Apart from the conceptual and visual excellence, Stoya, in the process of preparing for the film, in the process of rehearsal and research, imposed herself as a true talent, someone who carries the credibility of a non professional actor and the charisma of a true film actor.
Since the main character is a Serb, a Yugoslav and the whole film universe is placed in a socialist milieu, in a parallel reality that resembles the Soviet Russia, our idea was to make some kind of a Communist Donald Draper (Mad Men). A strong, macho character who has got an emotional instability deep inside of him that he suppresses. Sebastian also imposed himself as an excellent solution for the character, as one of the best and most visually striking actors from all over the region of the former Yugoslavia.
Based Zoran Nešković’s story, the script was written by the experienced Dimitrije Vojnov. Did you follow him completely or did you change something during the shooting?
The script is inspired by the story “Predveče se nikako ne može” written by Zoran Nešković way back in 1983, in ex-Yugoslavia. It’s an SF story that is actually a deep metaphor of certain male-female relationships, inhibitions, feelings of desire, opportunities and fears that shape life in a union.
Dimitrije did a great job because he created a very clear and motivated drama structure that inspired me and gave me great artistic freedom in interpretation and adaptation.
Android Nimani has the ability to learn and she is even tasked to assess the psychological state of the man for the needs of a powerful Ederlezi Corporation. In reality, we are getting closer to a contact with artificial intelligence. Does that make you feel scared?
I think that a time which comes after is always better, and that is why the future, with all its pros and cons, does not scare me.
This movie brings a pleasure for the eyes, which could certainly be credited to your studies at the Faculty of Applied Arts. Were there any built sets or was the entire film shot in front of the green screen? Who created the exciting images of the universe?
The film did not use the green screen at all! Most of the set was built and 3D extensions were made for the scenes of going out into space. The visual effects were performed by three studios in a period of over a year, and they are PRIMER, FRIED pictures and METALLINICS. I think the quality of the visual effects lies in the fact that we were consistently pushing ourselves and trying to solve these frameworks “from the opposite side,” to try to mislead the perception, to create as impressive effects as possible with very limited resources.
The most deserving for the visual effects in the film is Marko Milanković who recognized the potential of this film and initially formed a team of exceptional artists who dealt with the effects.
The music of Nemanja Mosurović contributes a lot to the atmosphere. What did you request from him and how did you work with other team members?
Mosurović's music is a very important aspect, since the film functions to a certain extent as a “music film,” it has got these passages and parts without dialogue that are accentuated by music and at the emotional and symbolic level associated with the action. Members of the author’s team are all very experienced filmmakers with whom it was a pleasure to work with and I can hardly say that I have requested anything from them - I have, along with them, channeled their endless talent towards the realization of this film.
The film was filmed in English. What kind of attendance do you expect in domestic cinemas and what are the plans for positioning on the foreign market?
From the production side, “Ederlezi Rising” was conceived with respect to global parameters, although it was created by an entirely domestic team of authors. Therefore, as such, it finds its place in the world-wide offer of independent films of the SF genre and is recognized by the US sales agency ARCLIGHT which is in charge of negotiating with local distributors around the world. I hope the film will have the cinema distribution in the region later this year, so the premiere at Fest is really a unique opportunity for the local audience to see the film at this point.
Do you now see yourself more as a designer or as a filmmaker? What does the premiere at FEST mean to you?
I am a graduate illustrator, professionally I deal with design and related artistic disciplines, and I associate my authorial work with almost all types of visual arts. And this film is one of these personal, authorial works. I am particularly pleased that this work has got some market potential, which is not so common.
FEST is a mythological place, so I hope that at the film premiere “people are going to happen.”