Interview with Goran Vojnovic (Director)
How did you come up with the story of this novel, which turned into a movie?
I am not sure if I came up with anything in this film. The story of the film is a construction formed by the stories of my childhood. I grew up surrounded with the characters of my film, with their stories, with their humor but also with the sadness underneath their jokes. Their sadness is my sadness.
How would you describe Dreams of Glory to an international audience, which might know very little about the famous Fužine estate in Ljubljana?
What I discovered while travelling around the world presenting my film and my book is that every city has its own Fužine estate, a place where so-called others are living. Others have different names around the globe, but their experience is similar to those of chefurs in Fužine. Dreams of Glory is a universal story of growing up alienated from the world outside your playground. Like life, the film is sad and funny and right and wrong and maybe it has a happy end and maybe not.
You faced a lawsuit by local authorities upon release of the novel from which the film originated; what did they intend with this lawsuit?
Well, they ― and by “they”, I mean the police syndicate who pressed charges against me ― probably just felt insulted by the language of my book, which was very angry and politically incorrect. And because the book was very popular, they probably had a feeling everyone agrees with all that ugly stuff the main character has to say about the police, and that was, I suppose, humiliating for them. I don’t think they wanted anything special out of it, though. They were just demanding a little respect from me and everyone who had read, loved or promoted the book.
Did you expect Dreams of Glory to be that successful across the world and to have won numerous prizes?
It came as a surprise for me, how this story from my neighborhood could be understood by so many different people, how can it be read from Sweden to Russia and how those foreign readers can connect with my characters like they were living in Fužine all their lives. It is a magic of literature and film, this possibility to translate one world to another.
How would you compare the lives of immigrants or second-generation migrants back in 2008 and now, ten years after? Has something changed?
Today, immigrants are coming to Slovenia from far-away countries like Afghanistan or Bangladesh, not from Bosnia or Serbia. So they are not just different; they are the faces of the unknown. Second-generation migrants from the Balkans are by now very well-integrated in the Slovenian society and mostly not seen as a problem anymore, but it is just because the problem is elsewhere at the moment. Intolerance is still there. There is a lot of fear and anger in people, mostly unleashed, but with the situation in Eastern Europe at the moment, it could all burst into the open soon.
In 2018, how do you see the challenges facing by immigrants across the world after making this film?
What I know is that the world was always full of migrants and refugees and that, nowadays, it has just become more apparent. You can build walls and put wires on your borders, like my country sadly did, but you can’t stop people moving in search of a better life. Worse even, with all these obstacles, we have created an atmosphere of permanent uneasiness, in which immigrants are facing an even tougher task if they want to integrate. Therefore, the biggest challenge is to change the atmosphere, because it is difficult to talk about these things while people are full of fear and sometimes even hatred towards those who are running for their lives.
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