A conversation with crew of „Dead Fish“: A movie with who we wanted to disturb the audience

Like the movie “Short Cuts” by Robert Altman, the film “Dead Fish” directed by Kristijan Milić brings us a drama with many characters, intertwined in a single grayish environment, highlighted by screenwriter Josip Mlakić, describing that he wanted for the movie to stimulate and ‘disturb’.

“There is no major actor and there is no main story. The main role in the movie has the city. The movie was shot in Mostar and does not talk about it, but about a much smaller place where people and their pasts are intertwined. We wanted to put together stories that will inspire people to think and disturb in some kind of a way”, said writer and screenwriter Josip Mlakić about the movie we had chance to see in a closed premiere at the opening of the Mostar Film Festival.

Screenwriter Mlakić did not conceal his fascination with Robert Altman, as his favorite director, as well as with the author Raymond Carver himself. He stressed that they, he and director Kristijan Milić, wanted to convey similar things in the movie “Dead Fish”, like this everyday life. The novel “Dead Fish Swim on Their Back” which was a base for the movie, author wrote for himself, and as for collaboration with the director Kristijan Milić it happened somehow spontaneously. “We are both related to some war themes and war stories so I believe this collaboration was some sort of breakthrough. Kristijan is an excellent director who is ready for any story and I believe that this was precisely the challenge that attracted him,” was the comment by screenwriter Mlakić on the morning of Movie Discussions organized within the MOFF, at the gallery of Queen Katarina Kosača in Mostar.

The director of the movie, Kristijan Milić, expressed regret first of all that the audience in Mostar, as well as the film crew who attended last night’s screening, unfortunately, because of the difficulty with the tone, did not have the opportunity to look the movie in full glory.

“It’s as if you put a facade on your house and you look straight away, not waiting until it is dry. Of the six channels, due to technical difficulties, the audience missed two mistakenly, I’m very sorry because the tone is decisive in all of these stories, but the picture, which, although it seemed gray in color, was essentially black-and-white”, commented the director Milić.

The director mostly known for action and war movies, though fundamentally “Dead Fish” is not a war movie, didn’t even resist not to spice it with short flashes and memories of the war.

“There are some short flashes and scenes of war that I have inserted in the movie but there are some little things that are my own, like the Hawaiian shirt that appears in all of my movies, this time carried by actor Dražen Mikulic who played the role of Mirkan the butcher”, explains Milić and points out that in spite of all the difficulties he believes he managed to ‘disturb’ the audience, as he had said, what was his goal in the first place, and he hopes that this is one of those movies that the audience will want to watch over again.

An introductory speaker Boris Čerkuč said at the very beginning that about 80 percent of the film crew originated from Herzegovina, which, as agreed by actor Dražen Mikulićmight also confirm that it was a fertile ground for this profession.

“Working on this movie we all felt like one and we did not strictly follow the script. Quite a few sentences came out of us because they were there, born of our characters and from us”, said Mikulić, an actor from Herzegovina. He pointed out that it was interesting to observe the whole team that, despite hard work and difficult shooting, somehow lived through this movie as something natural, and for which no fee was needed.

Dragan Despot, an actor from Mostar shared Mikulić’s opinion. Last night he was rewarded with the life time achieving award the Tree of Love, and the morning after emotions are still strong.

“It is a special honor to be rewarded in my city. As a young man I have been forced, accustomed to the circumstances, to go and look for the job as an actor somewhere else. I like returning to the city, and I’m proud of Mostar, who was in some earlier times, known and worthy of class for its primarily strong acting at the Croatian National Theater” Despot said.

Asked about the beginnings and the earlier times, and the opinion about the difference in the acting profession, Despot said that he is certain that it was much easier for him and earlier generations, and that the difference was because he became an actor for love of art, not because of existence and popularity, as it is a common case today.

“When I first entered the building of the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb, I wrote home that it was a spectacle. Today things are different, there are more students, and as if they all want to become actors on the second year of Academy. We treated this profession as an opportunity for some change in the world and the need to show ourselves, because doing anything else was unthinkable, while at the same time now days young people are losing that kind of ethics and they act just to act”, Despot said.

“The message would probably have been that even though everything seems gray and out of focus, although scenes and acts of suicides have become everyday life and normal occurrences, output, or choice, is always there”, screenwriter Mlakić concluded.