Investigations Of A Dog
- Director: Aleksandra Niemczyk
- Origin: Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Year: 2017
- Runtime: 25 min
- Colour: colour, black-and-white
- Language: Croatian
- Subtitle: English
About this film
A young man frustrated by his grim existence decides to just lie down by the river and test whether society will take care of him or let him die. Exposed to the hospitality of the elderly couple that finds him, he finds new purpose in assuaging their loneliness – but they, too, have their limits.
Interview with the Director
- Aleksandra, welcome back to tao films. We’re delighted to show your new film here. Your first film, Centaur, has a different mood than Investigations. It seems darker in a way, also more serious. What has changed, also in yourself as a filmmaker, between those two projects?
Subject-wise, Investigations of a Dog continues to observe a sort-of family in a difficult and dysfunctional situation. Except that, in this film, I observe them ‘being’ with a sense of dark humour and the grotesque, which brings a lighter mood. I don’t think I have changed much as a filmmaker between those projects. Each story or character makes me respond with a different approach, so I test the narrative form according to those impulses, instead of forcing one and the same approach on each film.
- From previous talks, I know that Centaur has personal roots. Investigations seem to be different. At the same time, both films have something unreal about them. As for Investigations, I cannot quite put my finger on it. It often seems surreal. Where does this interest in the (un)real and its effects on screen come from?
I always refer to experiences from within. Centaur is rooted deep in my memories from childhood. Investigations also recalls a person very close to me, who hoards everything, except humans, of course – that element developed from my imagination of a hypothetical “what if”. In that sense, both films combine my experiences with elements of fantasy, giving surreal outcomes to realistic set-ups.
- Investigations took you a long time to finish. You had the material, yet edited it together only in mid-2017. What initiated the re-commencement of the project?
Yes, it was an experiment for me from the start. It took almost three years to finish, first a year in development/pre-production to investigate my location and subject, getting to know my characters over many months of visits and relation-building, then I was stuck in editing. I was not even sure if I would finish this project to a final cut but eventually, after a motivating push from main actor Adnan Omerovic, who believed in this project, I found a structure and the rhythm in the material I shot.
- I don’t want to compare Investigations too much to Centaur, but there is a fascinating aesthetic change apparent. Centaur looks smooth, clean, almost photographic. Investigations feels rough and messy. Can you tell me more about the aesthetic choices?
I understand what you mean, but it’s the same as in the differences in the mood of each film. The difference in the aesthetic comes from within the story, hence it has to be something else, it has to be specific for this cinematic universe. Both films have a very unified and strong visual language with each frame thought through. Both films were shot by Kim Namsuk who is mainly a film director himself. We decided, very early on, the rules for each film, for its language, to get a unified feeling shot by shot. Also, in each case, it was important to use the limitations of the conditions we were shooting in. In Investigations, we were shooting mostly in a 16m2 room, so we were forced to be inventive with reflective surfaces, glass, mirrors, TV screens etc. and to allow the mess of elements to become a coherent composition in the frame.
- For the first time, you use comedic elements. It’s carefully done. Humour can certainly lighten up the atmosphere, albeit I find that it has a different role in Investigations.
I was flirting with the grotesque and humour in a few of my early shorts. But as in the case of Investigations it was always layered with drama and serious elements. Even the most depressing and awkward situation can get… well, even worse, so it all depends on how we choose to see it. Investigations is really a sad story about loneliness and the need to surround yourself with things, objects, and people. But I set it up in a ridiculous situation that flips the angle of the observation away from the serious and didactic.
- You were awarded an artist residency last year. What exciting things did you work on during that time?
Yes, it was an amazing EMARE/EMAP artist residency in Bourges, France, hosted by the Bandits-Mages art organisation. I spent Autumn of 2018 there, creating an artificial universe inspired by the surreal painter Leonora Carrington. Yet another cinematic experiment pulling my work further into a fiction filmmaking.
- Many thanks for this interview.