THE ISLAND A FILM BY KAMEN KALEV
SYNOPSIS Sophie and Daneel, both in their early thirties, are a close and passionate couple living in Paris. Sophie initiates a surprise journey to Bulgaria. Daneel explicitly refuses to go, but Sophie insists and finally convinces him to leave. When they arrive, Sophie discovers that Daneel was born there... After a few hours spent on the crowded beaches, Daneel leads Sophie to an almost abandoned island lost in the Black Sea. Once there, Daneel discovers pregnancy tests in Sophie’s luggage. The heat and the strange few inhabitants soon alter their own behaviors, and the island slowly reveals hidden fears that question their love. To get through it all, they have to take a leap into the unknown...
CREW Director Executive Producers Co-producers Associate Producers Production Consultant Director of photography Production designer
CAST KAMEN KALEV ELITZA KATZARSKA, STELA PAVLOVA ANGUEL CHRISTANOV THOMAS ESKILSSON FREDRIK ZANDER FILIP TODOROV, KOMETA FILM EMRE YEKSAN JULIAN ATANASSOV SEBASTIAN ORGAMBIDE
THURE LINDHARDT LAETITIA CASTA BOYKA VELKOVA RUSSI CHANEV MIHAIL MUTAFOV LUBEN DILOV – SON IVAN AND ANDREY SLAV TANEV ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY
LAETITIA CASTA An actress of joint Corsican and Norman origins, Laetitia Casta made her first big-screen appearance in 1999, aged 20, in Asterix and Obelix versus Caesar directed by Claude Zidi. A series of film roles followed: Gitano by Manuel Palacios, Savage Souls by Raoul Ruiz and Love Street by Patrice Leconte. She also worked with filmmakers Damien Odoul for Errance (2003) and Pascal Thomas for Le Grand Appartement (2006), alongside Mathieu Amalric and Pierre Arditi. She played the female lead in Born in 68 by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, a family saga going from the events of May ’68 up to the present day. She also played the mythical Salomé in Face by Tsai Ming-Liang, which screened in the Official Selection at the Festival de Cannes 2009. In 2010, she played the iconic Brigitte Bardot in Gainsbourg, a biopic about the legendary singer by Joann Sfar, which earned her a nomination at the 2011 César awards in the Best Supporting Actress category. Since completing filming on The Island, she has been preparing for roles in Sevère by Hélène Fillières and War of the Buttons by Christophe Barratier.
THURE LINDHARDT Thure Lindhardt made his screen debut at the age of 12 in Bille August’s Pelle The Conqueror (Palme d’Or in Cannes and Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film, 1988). He then joined the Odense Theater School, graduating in 1998. Since then he has appeared in numerous Danish films and TV series, as well as international productions such as Love in Thoughts by Achim von Borries, Into the Wild by Sean Penn, Flame and Citron by Ole Christian Madsen and Angels and Demons by Ron Howard.
DIRECTOR’S NOTE STORY AND THEME My desire is to trace a deep human transformation, in which the main hero experiences disintegration of his singular point of view and sense of personality. He realizes how what we define as “the I” is constructed, and as a result, the boundaries that describe it disappear automatically. It’s as if Daneel dies, so that a new human being is born, one that starts living without fear or tension. He discovers the joy of life as it is – unfathomable and in a constant state of change. He ceases to search, to ask questions, to be somebody and transforms into a unique and exceptionally charismatic personage. He enthralls everyone with his sincerety and spontaneity. This new man inspires. The film structure is divided into three parts. In the first one, we follow Daneel and his life before the island. He lives by the norms and rules established by the so-called contemporary society. He associates himself with the middle class – he has a prestigious job, makes good money, has a beautiful girlfriend and visits her parents’ house every weekend. Despite his apparent happiness and success however, Daneel is nervous, short-tempered, and with a negative disposition. He protects his every stance and viewpoint with the ferocity of a wild cat, which takes up a lot of his energy. The second part takes place on a small island in Bulgaria. Daneel finds himself there pretty much against his will. Whilset on the island, we understand that Daneel was abandoned as a child. And when he finds pregnancy tests in his girlfriend’s bag, the deeply concealed trauma of his unclear identity comes to the surface. The fear that he is not ready to be a father paralyzes him. Daneel panics. Due to his shaken stability, he starts making strange connections with what he is seeing and hearing, finding meaning where there is no meaning, sinking further into a confused and illusonary world. There is an older couple living on the island, and in his neurotic state, Daneel starts seeing them as his real parents. Through the prism of his point of view, in which reality and illusion merge, two major questions are formed: whether Daneel has actually lost his mind, or whether these people are actually the true parents who have abandoned him. In this mentally unstable state of mind, Daneel meets Ilija, who helps him discern the limitations of his own notions, and convinces him in the deceitfulness of any point of view. As a result, Daneel starts seeing the truth in Ilija’s words, and his search for an identity gets off the track. He goes through powerful inner cataclysm which ends with a catharsis. Daneel realizes that fear is born out of desire, and in his case out of desire for an identity. He understands that identity is a static image, one which we subjectively imagine and one we want to hold and keep. He understands that man’s eternal conflict and fear is rooted in his
paradoxical desire to transform his constantly changing life into something stable and lasting. And this obvious truth – that life is always changing –is represented by Daneel merging with the vibrations of nature, which seem to spring from within himself. Daneel’s conscience returns to his body, and from this moment on, his entire being seems changed. His look and gait appear calm, as if belonging to a man who is in harmony with himself. Daneel leaves the island. In the third part, we witness the presence of this changed, even reborn man, in society. His unusually frivolous behaviour either cheers people up, or completely confuses them. In his spontaneity, instead of going back to Paris, Daneel becomes a participant in the TV reality show Big Brother. This powerfully dramatic, plastic symbol of our times becomes a platform and a tribune for Daneel. He begins to share his perspective. Daneel turns into the most controversial and most discussed figure of our modern society. In the beginning of the film, Daneel gets a Tarot card reading, and he draws “The Fool” card – one who is capable of forgetting the past, of enjoying life here and now, like a newborn child. This transformation is predestined, like a jump into the unknown, an act that symbolizes our devotion to life in its spontaneity and chaos. This destiny is visually represented by Daneel’s jump off the tall cliff into the sea (water being a symbol of life in constant flux). At this moment, Daneel gives in to himself, and embraces the spontaneous nature of life. The conflict and fear within him disappear. In the third part of the film, Daneel enters the Big Brother show, choosing the character of the crazy Toshko, which is a direct reference to “The Fool”
card. In this manner, the creation of an image and of its illusory nature, is illustrated. Upon the Big Brother show’s modern arena, the multitude of viewpoints and images, through which the audience attempts to decipher Daneel, is played out. The film ends with Daneel’s disappearance – he cannot be seen – a symbol of the absence of identity or image. With Sophie’s last words, the film takes a new twist, creating a brand new suggestion. Daneel seems to acquire the status of God – multi-faced, endless and invisible, God who has planted the seed of his teachings (the child as the symbol of new life). But Sophie’s words are spoken with a smile and a wink, underlining the healthy dose of self-irony being used. The entire third part is governed by Daneel’s desire to play. Even in his longest tirades, Daneel should not come across as didactic and instructive. Just like Ilija, who is always picking up tomatoes, always laughing, Daneel speaks with self-irony, as if he is playing his part in a game – laughing and rejecting his own very words. Ilija inspires Daneel, and Daneel inspires Sophie in turn. She becomes his accomplice in this game. And within her, the striving towards self-knowledge appears too. GENRE AND VISUAL LANGUAGE The apparent mixing of genres is necessary so that the viewer can get immersed and fully submit to the constantly changing viewpoint, which is so crucial to the feeling of the main theme.
In the first part, where we get to meet the main characters, everything seems realistically stable, at times even comical. In the second part – on the island – tension appears, like in a Polanski movie, or like in “Straw Dogs”. We don’t know what we are scared of, everything gets confused. Reality, dream and imagination merge into a mess, which corresponds to the confusion of the main character. The hero’s inner cataclysm ends with a jump off the cliffs. It’s as if he dies in the sea. We live through his own catharsis via several poetic scenes, in which the tension disappears and calmness ensues.
The third part is more like the first, but a degree of poeticism is present till the end of the movie. The pace speeds up to a frantic dance, in which every next scene surprises and entertains. The absurd humour paints Daneel’s presence in Big Brother as a controversial character, one who amazes everybody and who makes us accept even his inexplicable disappearance as something normal and completely logical. The visual language corresponds to the state of mind of the main character. At the beginning (in Paris), the camera is classical and stable. The colours are natural, the light – with a normal contrast. In the second part (on the island), the camera is dynamic, reflecting the dramatism, adding tension and suspense. Many shots are covered with hand-held camera or steadycam, the editing is pacy, the colours – saturated, the light – contrasty. In the third part (the Big Brother show), the visual palette is familiar – flat, plastic, fluorescent. It is mixed with shots from various environments, where we see the viewers of the reality show – making this final part beautiful and memorable in its own way.
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LAETITIA CASTATHURELINDHARDT A FILM BY KAMEN KALEV CAST Director KAMEN KALEV Executive Producers ELITZA KATZARSKA, STELA PAVLOVA Co-producer...