In the Name of the Chocolate, the Strawberry, and the Holy Spirit




Thursday, August 15, 2019

6:00 PM 7:33 PM

While watching the film I couldn’t help but feel as though the town and location was just as much of a character in this piece as the leading character, the priest. You created this incredible world and community all within 20 minutes. What was the location scouting process like and how did you come about this beautiful town where old tradition seamlessly mingles with modern times?

I am so glad you felt my intention that the village should play a «role» in the film, as instead of being just a decor, I wanted it to be a real antagonist for our Priest, denying him his treat. For me, it was literally Priest against the Village.

When going on location scouting, I precisely had this in mind, and the search was rather exhaustive. After some research online, I discovered that villages in beautiful Istria region (Croatian peninsula just opposite of Venice, Italy) have this mysterious and and rather odd feeling, as I wanted to create a community like something is not completely right within it, even though it seems that everything is perfect at a first glance.

We visited a couple of chosen villages, but just based on photos, I had a special feeling for our village, called Svetvinčenat, situated in the heart of Istria. I remember when I got out of the car, my heart started to beat so fast, as it was exactly what I was looking for. I was imagining my scenes in a place like this, it was almost surreal. The main square is just beautiful, and it has a special mysterious charm. Also, we got to shoot on a beautiful cemetery church full of fresques of 11th and 12th century, which gave a special flavour to the film in terms of atmosphere. The village even had its real football field intro muros, which is pretty rare for this kind of Mediterranean villages.

Also, for me it was very important to be able to have an ice cream shop just opposite to church, in order to feel my priest torn between the two. When he is looking through the window inside the ice cream shop, the church is in the reflection of it, when he stands in line, the church is behind, always reminding him of his real place.

The feeling that we are in modern times, but this village has it's own time was also very important to establish, so the film finally succeeded to have this out-of-time atmosphere. The community you sense through images is actually real, I must say, as people from the village were so kind, welcoming and warm, helping us with the shooting in terms of appearing as extras, borrowing us local cars and old bikes, or digging us a hole for the funeral scene. They were enjoying the process as we were, and it can be felt through this film, for which I am very proud of.

As a daughter of a pastor I greatly appreciated the more than human qualities you gave to the priest not too often portrayed on film. While there are wonderful comedic moments, your film delves into the deeper questions of faith and holding to ones beliefs no matter how trivial they may seem. What compelled you to tell this story?

It is true that not many film stories are elaborating the existence of a priest, and priests are always perceived as being extracted from a real human experience. I wanted to tell a story of a priest, but also of a human being. He is confronted with various temptations in life, but just trying to survive through the day with a simple pleasure.

The temptation is universal to us all, and we know how it can turn to an obsession so quickly, if it is denied from us. My priest feels real and reacts like any other human being would react in this situation. My intention is to have my audience with him in his head, and to feel his pain of being denied of the pleasure, but also to have my audience cheering for him to achieve it finally.

It seems I succeeded in this, according to the feedback I got from the audience till now, and it makes me happy, as this gives a truly human experience to my audience as well.

The main actor, fabulous Goran Navojec, with reason currently one of the biggest names in Croatian cinema, actually achieved this intention, and I completely trusted him that he can deliver it from the first time we met. He said to me: «Karla, this is a comedy, but it is not funny for the priest. He is in agony, in pain of this temptation. For him, it's drama, and let's take our audience with him». I knew it will be a perfect collaboration, and my responsibility as the director was just to make images that takes us into his head.

The amount of characters and the variety of colors each of them brings to the screen is just delicious. What was the casting process like and had you worked with any of the talent before?

This is my first short film, so also my first collaboration with these talents. I have to admit that I was so fortunate to have all this really dedicated and talented people around me. First I met Goran Navojec, the main actor, and he absolutely wanted to be a part of it as it was a crazy idea for him, nobody would ever write that kind of film, he said. Together we brainstormed for other roles. He is very intelligent and creative, and a real professional, and this helped me a lot during my first experience as a director, as it can be a terrifying experience. As we built trust very quickly, it made my first directing fun and joyful.

My actors were very enthusiastic about their roles, we met on a rehearsal and were bursting with ideas. They gave life to the characters during this rehearsal, as they were not only reading the written lines, but searching for something real in their characters, and they expressed it fully, which makes our film colorful and alive, as you said. I shared my vision to them very clearly, and within that, they felt that they can play with each character, which made the creative process so much fun. 

On a more playful note; we all have our ‘weaknesses’ in life. Mine would be cheese. Do you have any ‘weaknesses’ you can't resist when the ‘craving’ takes over?

Of course, mine is a strawberry and chocolate ice-cream :)

Joke aside, although ice-cream, chocolate and cheese may be very very high on my «weakness list», I appreciate very much the pleasure of a good food in general, I love enjoying different tastes and flavours. So, maybe for me, it's even harder than for my priest, as my temptations are everywhere, and it seems I am a big sinner :)

2019Kirk Gostkowski