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Safe Place scoops up three awards at Locarno FF

Safe Place – director Juraj Lerotić’s fiction feature debut and a Pipster production, screened in the competition programme Concorso Cineasti del presente of the 75th Locarno Film Festival, taking home three awards: for best director, best actor (Goran Marković) and as the best first-time fiction feature.

With the film, we tried to avoid the exploitation of pain, the pornography of pain. This is not a film you can rely on; in literature, topics such as death and suicide are very often romanticized or seen as new beginnings, but I wanted to make a film based on my own experience of how death can actually come out of nowhere, without any explanation or warning. And maybe the relief lies precisely in accepting that mystery you cannot control, which is actually the opposite of what we have been taught since childhood”, said director Juraj Lerotić.

This award is a great incentive for the audience to go to the cinema and see this film – I think it’s healthy to watch works like this, because the goal and the task of art is not only to entertain, but to address a much broader subject of human character and a series of topics, situations and problems which we as humans face”, said Goran Marković on the occasion.

We worked long and hard and were fully committed to the film until two weeks ago when we finished it. All of this has been happening so fast and it is so intense, but we are overjoyed most of all that the film has resonated with the audience who showered us with wonderful comments, and, of course, being acknowledged by the jury. These awards are a confirmation of that wonderful feedback. What is particularly important to us and means a lot is that both the audience and the jury appreciate the topic that Safe Place deals with”, said in the end the film’s producer Miljenka Čogelja.

Juraj Lerotić received the Best Emerging Director Award of the City and Region of Locarno, Goran Marković won the Pardo Award for Best Actor, while the film also took home the award for best debut title, the Swatch First Feature Award.

The film centres on a traumatic event, a sudden suicide attempt, that opens a gap in the everyday life of a family of three. Their lives are upturned, as if they have been pulled into a war invisible to anyone else. The storyline is condensed to a short frame of time and distilled to the most acute – saving a loved one.

The film is based on the personal experience of director Juraj Lerotić, who also stars in the film. The cast is also headed up by Snježana Sinovčić Šiškov and Goran Marković. The director of photography on the project is Marko Brdar, alongside editor Marko Ferković, production designer Jana Plećaš and costume designer Katarina Pilić.

Safe Place is a Pipster production, with Miljenka Čogelja as the producer, while the Croatian co-producer is the company Zelena zraka (Saša Ban and Nevenka Sablić). The film was created in collaboration with Slovenian production company December.

The film received financial support from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Croatian Radiotelevision and Slovenian Film Centre, in addition to winning the Eurimages Development Award at the CineLink Co-production Market at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

Cover photographs: Juraj Lerotić with Locarno FF Award, Goran Marković with Locarno FF Award

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