Interview with Peter Krištúfek
„I wonder how far are people willing to go when pursuing their goal. And what if this goal is, for example, to snatch the happiness of other people. Is this view distorted? Am I putting my own story into their lives? The film Visible World is a demonstration of the brutal and violent things often done by people who are basically ordinary. They are not demonic, but mostly unhappy, sad and frustrated. Evil can really be banal. In fact, all of us are capable of violence. I am interested in the subject of privacy, its boundaries and in what we do when no one is watching.”
The first time Peter Krištúfek introduced his work at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, it was in 2009. His feature-length documentary debut Snapshots, portrait of Slovak music legend Dežo Ursiny, world-premiered in section 2009: A Musical Odyssey. Two years later, Krištúfek returned with his feature debut Visible World screened within East of the West Competition.
This psychological drama tells the story of Oliver, midlife loner who spies on a family living in the apartment block across the street. “My ex-girlfriend was living in the residential district Dlhé diely. I spent most of the time on the balcony of her apartment observing the surrounding blocks, so it was somewhat natural for me to start thinking about the lives of the neighbors. We used to have dinners on the balcony and I was always thinking about who was watching us. Dinner on the balcony looks like an advertisement for sheer happiness – everything seems fine, the world is wonderful and safe. And this is the beginning of my film. Oliver, the main character – and observer – is not one particular person, but a combination of people I have met or been observing.” Krištúfek explains in an interview for magazine Film.sk.
Even though most of the time the film focuses on Oliver, he remains a mystery to his friends, family and the audience. The film rarely reveals the main character´s psychology, the director focuses on capturing the authentic impression and avoids purpose-made motivations. „I wanted to make a film with minimalistic formal elements and storytelling. The same goes for acting. It was kind of a torture for some actors, although it seemed natural to Ivan Trojan. I wanted to avoid all the poetic or romantic shots and I was curious how DoP Martin Štrba would approach my conception. Not only he captured what I wanted, but also managed to further emphasize my naturalistic approach. Visual aspect of Visible World is really strong. Basically, we have reached this mutual satisfaction by continuous interaction. Martin knows exactly what the director wants. That´s why his films are so diverse.”
Loneliness, dysfunctional relationships, desperate search for happiness and interference with privacy are emphasized not only in the visual aspect, but also through the sound design. Director Peter Krištúfek has composed a score that underlines all the hidden and suppressed emotions of the main character. “I wanted to preserve that minimalism also in the sound design. I used only a few instruments to keep it simple. To make sound flawless, I needed a strong partner so I have asked Oskar Rózsa, my longtime friend, to supervise my composing and he did a really good job. It was somewhat interesting to approach him as a colleague - professional, rather than a friend whom you meet for wine and dine. My aim was to avoid the redundancy in music. Probably the most emotional musical part is the one over the end credits. Talking about sounds – I became fascinated by the housing estates because of their specific noises.”
Even though Visible World did not take home any award from the 46th Karlovy Vary IFF, it opened discussion about important current social issues. Its anti-romantic approach, the poetics of the cold urban space has enriched the mosaic of new Slovak Cinema.
Source: Jaremková, M. (2011). Scenár je neexistujúca vec. Film.sk, 07/08, 24-27.
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KVIFF will present Visible World by Peter Krištúfek.