The film “When the Day Had no Name” directed by Teona Strugar Mitevska and with Agnes Godard behind the camera work on, in the words of the producer Labina Mitevska, the problems of the young generation in Macedonia and the interethnic tensions.
The main roles in the cast team were played by nonprofessional actors, specially casted, so for them this had been the first film experience they will remember for a long time.
Teona Strugar Mitevska worked with the cinematographer Agnes Godard on this film, whereas each of her previous films had been done with a different cinematographer. Labina Mitevska explained that Teona is a director for whom every new film is a new research, so that is why her films are aesthetically different amongst themselves. Teona does a casting for that purpose for the DOP before every film, same as for the actors.
-In this film, Teona wanted to achieve the reality and brutality, differentiating from “I am from Titov Veles”, where she wanted to achieve magic and beauty in every shot. The purpose here was for the camera to be close to the characters and to brutally showcase the reality in Macedonia. The challenge in this film for Agnes was to work with very little light, whereas for Teona to work with the ugliness of the life in this world, which the film talks about – explained Labina Mitevska.
On the question of how she personally experiences the film, because she got some quite divided opinions from the Macedonian audience after the screening, Labina pointed out that she is very proud of this film.
-I am especially proud of this film, because it is an original, very tough film and it talks about things that touch us all. It is fantastically received at festivals, and I am very proud as a producer that the film is sold out through all East Asia and China. Maybe this is the only Macedonian film that will be distributed to China. It is always harder in Macedonia, because it is our country and it is on its most critical mood – says Mitevska.
The actors were unanimous that the shooting of the film had been a wonderful experience for them. Hanis Bagashov said that the filming itself went quite fast, because the preparations previously lasted long enough for everyone to be ready when the filming starts. Ivan Vrtev Shoptrajanov says that for him it was a challenge to get used to acting in front of a camera, because he had previous experience with theater, where more expressive movements are required, which are not needed in front of the film camera. Igor Postolov, who plays the character of Cvetan, a guy in a wheelchair, says that this was an experience which will always stay in his memory, and that there had been some funny moments at the filming.
-We ate 160 buns during the shooting! We filmed that scene where we sit at lunch for two days – said Postolov.
On the question of why it is not openly stated in the film that it is about the “Smilkovo Lake” case, though the content is quite indicative, Mitevska answered that the incident is only an inspiration, whereas the purpose of the film is completely different:
-At the start of the film it is stated that the film is inspired by that unpleasant event. But that event was only an inspiration to Teona to talk about the young people, what does a human life mean. It wasn’t in our interest to make a documentary showcase of the event, but to show what it means to lose a young life and through those lives to talk about our reality. We state at the start of the film that the film is inspired by the event, but the film is not about that, we are interested to follow these young lives and to showcase the reality of Macedonia – said Labina Mitevska.
Labina Mitevska appears in this film with a role of hers, and regarding that she has responsibilities as a producer as well, she pointed out it is always a challenge for her to make that division of roles, i.e. to put the full production engagement on hold and to dedicate herself on the role when she works on films.
About her work as a producer, Mitevska pointed out that even after the shooting of the film, it is not the time for the producer to go to rest – but on the contrary.
-Part of our process is to fight for our film and to place them the best we can. There are a lot of sales agents, but the problem is to find the real sales agent which is good for your film. The agency we picked for this film is smaller and takes on only ten films yearly. But, to be honest, the expectations were exceeded. There are about 5000-8000 films that apply at Berlin, Cannes and Venice yearly. With the very fact that we got into a festival as Berlin, you know that the film is on the right foot – says Mitevska.
Finally, she concluded that the goal of the film is to showcase the pain of the lost young generations.
-I think that our goal was to capture the pain of this lost generation, the intolerance of the societies we live in, the weight of the thoughtless word we address to each other, and that kill something in someone. And what all that means for us as a society, what it means for these young people and should be more tolerant to each other. This film talks of many things, but foremost for the Macedonia of today, for this lost generation and asks the question of towards what do we go – stated Mitevska.