Interviews

Mira Fornay about My Dog Killer: 'I want to challenge the audience'

An 18-year old skinhead from a village on the Slovak-Moravian border is deeply ashamed when his half-brother, who has Gypsy blood, suddenly turns up. He and his friends hate Gypsies. Mira Fornay's feature film deals with ethnic conflict, humanity and the importance of making choices. Nominated for a Hivos Tiger Award.

In a nutshell

'We follow a racist boy and his friends during an ordinary day which takes an abnormal turn. A film about pride, but especially about shame. Where does the latter come from?' 

First time 

'Although this is my second feature film, it feels like my debut. Foxes was great, but I had to make countless compromises. There were all sorts of producers and the budget was large. Now there was less money to spend, but I got to decide everything myself. I opted to shoot the film on 35mm, using an amateur cast and used my personal, visual way of storytelling. I really left my mark on the finished product.'

Honest

'The border country where we shot the film is, in many ways, very different from the rest of Slovakia. It's an interesting area where the people speak differently and have different mentality. The research phase during which I looked for villagers to play the various roles, took two years. I met a couple of skinheads who used to be hardcore, but were now older, more open and milder. I organised acting workshops for them while I was finishing off the script. The main characters and the story's theme had already been decided; the rest slotted together like pieces of a puzzle during the process. I wanted to mix actors and amateurs, but I dropped that idea pretty quickly. The amateurs were more honest, more real, whilst the actors with their perfect skills would have ruined the film's authenticity.'

Crazy shit

'The Neo-Nazis I worked with trusted me right away because they felt I was truly interested in them. This in spite of the fact that I'd told them from the start that I did not share their racist ideas. For example, they think having a Gypsy in the family is something to be deeply ashamed of. I think that's crazy shit, I don't get it. Of course, the question is why do people still have these ideas in this day and age? During the shoot, the whole country was up in arms when the media reported that a Gypsy had beaten up a boy. As if people had been waiting for that moment! The racism of citizens hides just beneath the surface. Later on, the purported victim admitted he'd made the whole thing up. You can't just single out the skinheads. Society as a whole suffers from a lack of interest and humanity.'

Rotterdam

'It's great that my film is going to be screened here alongside other auteur's films. I love being able to intellectually and emotionally share things with others. I'm also really looking forward to the Slovakian premiere of my film, in March. Then the guys can see the end result with their own eyes. I am under no illusion that I can change someone's convictions, but perhaps a film such as this is the most effective attempt. They need real stories. A story can change someone in a way a lecture never can.'

Bright Future

'My next film is going to be all about women. It won't be a feminist screed or one of those typical female-oriented films, because I detest those. The producer is scared it'll be hard to comprehend, but audiences can handle a lot more than you think. Besides there is nothing wrong with challenging viewers.'

My Dog Killer – Mira Fornay
Wed 30 15:30 Pathé 7
Fri 1 12:15 Pathé 6
Sat 2 13:15 Pathé 1

This is an article from the Daily Tiger dated Wednesday 30 January 2013.
Photo: Ruud Jonkers
Text: Maricke Nieuwdorp