A Q&A with director and writer Urša Menart followed last night’s screening of My Last Year as a Loser, a socially critical portrayal of the young generation at the sold-out Komuna Cinema. She told the moderator Tina Poglajen that the story of a girl whose life is slipping through her fingers after an unsuccessful job hunting is largely autobiographical, “my own dilemmas and stresses – they are blatantly obvious!”; but pointed out that most of the Slovenian young generation shared her experiences. The differences in basic perceptions of the present-day exploitative terms of employment and ways of dealing with them are transparent even at the screenings: while younger viewers, who have experienced the problems addressed in the film, recognise elements of irony and respond to the scenes with resigned laughter, middle-aged audiences are usually left with a feeling of despair.
The filmmaker knew most of the actors before casting them. She met the leading actress Eva Jesenovec who plays Špela more than ten years ago at an audition for her student film. As she was still a primary-school student Jesenovec didn’t get the role but made a strong impression nonetheless. Menart spotted Lara Vouk and Živa Selan in V dvoje, a TV series by Luka Marčetič. When she cast Selan in the other leading role (Suzi), the bulk of the casting work was done. Tina Poglajen stressed that unlike most of Slovenian films the dialogues sound authentic. The filmmaker explained that she preferred to write true-to-life lines and adapted each character to the actor portraying it.
Urša Menart admitted that the ending was different than initially planned and was changed a month before the shooting. Only the leading actresses got the new script, and all the others were rather surprised by the changes. The (likewise highly refreshing) original music was written by composer Simon Penšek who was first hired to organise the soundtrack – Menart first did not plan to have music in her film. The concept changed over the course of two weeks, and the featured music had to sound like the one that “the characters would actually listen to and download on their USB flash drives”. Menart also revealed that – the typically cinematic – bicycle motif was autobiographic and that she was working on Slovenian director Damijan Kozole’s new project as “an associate member”.
Photo Iztok Dimc