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‘An Exciting Film About Anonymous People’

On Friday, 29 August, the Horizons competition section at the 71st Venice International Film Festival will screen the Croatian-French-Macedonian-Serbian film These Are the Rules, written and directed by Ognjen Sviličić.

The series of Croatian titles included this year at large world festivals continues with the premiere at Venice’s Horizons – Ognjen Sviličić has made a film about a family tragedy of a middle-aged couple from a small apartment in the Zagreb neighbourhood of Savica. “I wanted to make an exciting film about anonymous people,” says Sviličić, “and say something about the society we live in, the society that tolerates and stimulates chaos, the society that doesn’t care. Several real events motivated me to write this script. Through the tragedy of a married couple trying to cope with the system, my film indirectly points a finger at institutions for negligence and this is what the title refers to.”

“I never played such a mentally difficult role, a parent losing his child. I have never become so asocial and so hermetical, so to speak, on my route between the set and my home,” said Bosnian and Herzegovinian actor Emir Hadžihafizbegović, starring in the main role opposite Jasna Žalica.

The key moment for Sviličić’s film was collaboration with the French company KinoElektron, managed by Janja Kralj. Film producer Damir Terešak describes how the collaboration came about: “We met at the screening of Armin at Paris Cinéma 2007 and soon afterwards we met on our first joint project, Sviličić’s film Two Sunny Days. It was then that we tried to get CNC funds which was no easy task, since you compete against projects from all over the world.” Janja Kralj adds that all three of them were joined in Paris by a common emotion and that she had no doubts about the continuation of collaboration on future films: “As a team we developed the project These Are the Rules since 2010. Last year, among fierce competition, we were confirmed by CNC’s Aide aux cinemas du monde fund. This gave us additional motivation to feel certain about the power of the script and what is reflected in the film. This is the first collaboration and artistic exchange between Croatia and France on this level.”

The international agreement on co-productions and privileged relations between two cinemas during the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, to the initiative of the two competent cinema centres (HAVC and CNC) was signed by Andrea Zlatar Violić and Aurélie Filippetti, ministers of culture of both countries.

We asked director of photography Crystel Fournier, who filmed the award-wining films Tomboy and Water Lillies by Céline Sciamma, to explain how she approached the subject matter of Sviličić’s film: “Ognjen and I decided not to contribute to the dark side of this story with an equivalent choice of light, but to do just the opposite. Our main set, a family apartment, was built in the studio, which made it possible for us to have complete control over the lights – we chose fair weather, simulating the natural movement of the Sun to mark the hours passing by during the three days portrayed in the film and highlighted the utter loneliness of the parent in the drama that befell them.”

Next to Hadžihafizbegović and Žalica, the film stars Hrvoje Vladisavljević and Veronika Mach. The set designer was Ivan Veljača, costume designer Katarina Zaninović, and co-producers Nikolina Vučetić Zečević (Serbia) and Svetozar Ristovski (Macedonia). Thanks to a co-production with four European countries, Damir Terešak managed to accrue a total budget of HRK 8,235,829, including the participation of HRT with HRK 200,000 and lights lending.

The world premiere takes place on Friday, 29 August, at 6.30pm at the Volpi festival hall, with the film crew present. The press-kit, including an original These Are the Rules trailer in HD and high resolution photographs, can be downloaded on this link. For additional information, please contact the HAVC press office or the Italian press representative Adriana Vianello from Studio Systema agency.

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