Bread and Milk
Jan Cvitkovič

Synopsis

Ivan is dismissed a day too early from his alcoholism treatment program because of a strike by medical personnel. His first day back home passes in a pleasant atmosphere enhanced by Sonja's hope of a brighter future. The next morning Sonja sends Ivan to the store to get bread and milk, while she goes off to work as a housekeeper for a well-to-do family.

On the way home, Ivan meets Armando, whom he has not seen in years. They were friends in secondary school, after which Armando left for temporary work in Switzerland. As they chat at a bar, Ivan learns that Armando once spent a night with Sonja, prior to her involvement with Ivan. Ivan is so disturbed by this that he drinks a brandy almost unawares. This introduction leads to tragic family love story.

BREAD AND MILK is a crude and concurrently tender film about people who are
in search of warmth and love, and yet everything they do sets the odds against them.
The film is about people living between heaven and hell. About people we all
know.

BREAD AND MILK
Interview with the Director

From: EKRAN, Slovenian film magazine 3, 4 / 2001, interview by Jure Meden

Jan CVITKOVIČ: ABOUT BREAD AND MILK

This was your first attempt at directing. Which element of directing did you rely on most of all, why were you so self-confident?

In the first place I was confident that I could see in advance what the film is going to look like in the end. I still did not know how I would be able to motivate all the people on the set, and that seemed exceedingly important to me. When after the first day of shooting I realized that I managed to motivate the team – I could see that from their reactions – I knew that this issue was solved. The team, not only actors, but also light technicians, sound technicians, indeed everybody, were in a kind of a special state, they fell into a hidden state of euphoria. I felt that going on around me and it seemed obvious that the film would be good, that all would end well.


Did the team act in this way also because they felt attracted by the topic of the film?

Absolutely. The film is about little people. This is a flourish, but it is the truth. If someone feels that you respect their way of life, even if only through some kind of poetics, if they feel that you are seriously taking an interest in this and that it means something to you as an author, then the dialogue springs up immediately.

Bread and Milk is a film that could only be created in Slovenia. What, in your opinion, is so authentic and familiar about it, what is that “something” that impressed foreign film critics so profoundly at the Slovenian Film Festival in Portorož?

When I recorded that film I told myself that this would be the most authentically Slovenian film in the history of the Slovenian film. As Slovenian as possible. I was serious about that and I was not afraid that “Slovenian film” could have a negative connotation. We deliberately went through with recording the most orthodox Slovenian film of all time. I conceived it in this way because I believe that it is very important for a film to be exceptionally local. It should be local for the simple reason that this is a prerequisite for accuracy. The things you know, matters that originate from your environment, are required for you to be able to accurately formulate your thoughts. If you discuss issues that you are not familiar with, which you have not experienced, you simply cannot be precise. And I wanted to be precise in expressing myself. The more that a film is local, the more accurate, and yet, simultaneously, the more universal it is.

Many people, who otherwise like your film very much, are partial to the distinct and excellent final sequence, a kind of a comment of the end that had already happened. Why have you decided to end the film in this way?

This ending had already been written in the first phase of the script. Later I gave it up and in the very end I decided to carry it out in accordance with the primary idea. This is the most significant decision I have made about this film, and it is most deliberate. The film is made in such a way that the sequence that takes place on the stairs stands for the organic ending of the film, which is followed by the dedication. I included the very last scene deliberately, since I did not want the audience to leave the cinema under the impression of classical emotions. So that you are a bit sad and you say, god damn it, I have seen a beautiful and emotional film, I had a good time, it was sad but beautiful. I did not want the people to leave the cinema with mixed emotions, I did not want them to doubt whether now everything is all right or not. Is it all right for these people to survive, would it perhaps be better if they were dead? And there is another thing I wanted to point out. Namely, that it is not tragic if such a story ends in tragedy. What is tragic in this life is knowing in advance that everything would happen again.

You have proven yourself as an actor (in the full-length film Idle Running by the director Janez Burger,1999) and as a director. What is more appealing to you?

Directing, definitely, that is, writing and directing. Acting does not attract me that much. I am not cut out for that. It bothers me if I have to wait. Waiting is killing me more than anything in life. If you are an actor waiting is what you have to do most often, and that is not very nice.

Why has Bread and Milk been recorded in black and white?

I pictured the film in black and white in advance. Even more obviously than with the film Idle Running, colours have no function here. For this type of films black and white photography seems more realistic to me than colour photography. As a consequence of black and white photography the situations become more roughly realistic and they gain a certain degree of poetics. That is what this story requires. My next film, though, is definitely going to be in colour.


Why is Bread and Milk interesting internationally?

Yearning for love is close to all people and they can all relate to the mistakes that they do in pursuing this.

director's statement

In the sixties, during the golden age of socialism, a big establishment named the “Taverna” was built in my hometown. It was intended for workers as a place where after hard work they could treat themselves to a subsidized lunch, play a game of chess, relax by bowling and have a drink or two.

As the years went by this place was steadily becoming less and less similar to what it was intended for in the beginning. It became a refuge for people who for some reason did not want to spend their spare time at home. The divorced, the lonely, people who did not get along with their relatives, alcoholics, the unemployed and young people who, like me, did not have anywhere else to go. The “Taverna” was now open all night long.

At that time (I was about 16 or 17 years old) a certain scene made a profound impact upon me. A chap, a family man whom I knew by appearance, came to a halt in the middle of the tavern at about three o’ clock in the morning, completely drunk, holding a plastic bag in his hand. There was a moment when it seemed that this man realized how he had ruined his own life. In the bag that he dropped on the floor were a loaf of bread and a liter of milk.

This scene remained with me somewhere in my sub consciousness all through the years until I decided to make a film based on it. I have accomplished this by adding the previous and the next day to that moment, that is, a bit of the past and a bit of future.

What was created is a film that actually does not examine the social conditions and the obvious problems of the protagonists so much. Instead it focuses more on their yearning for mutual love and warmth. The film looks especially closely at the mistakes that the protagonists make, because of which their final goal is farther and farther away.

Bread and Milk is a film about people living between heaven and hell. About people we all know.

Jan Cvitkovič

Crew

director and screenwriter
producer
director of photography
music by
editor
sound designer
sound recordist
production designer
Andraž Trkman
 
Vasja Kokelj
costume designer
 
Beti Njari
co-producer
Andrej Kregar
make up artist
production manager
Script supervisor

Actors

Ivan
Sonja
Robi
Tadej Troha
Armando
Perica Radonjić - Pepi
Robijev prijatelj
Andraž Istenič
Robijev prijatelj
Matjaž Zuodar
zdravnik v bolnišnici
Brane Grubar
Kvartopirci
Aleksandar Bulatovič
Kvartopirci
Dario Mlakar
Kvartopirci
Predrag Radonič - Miki
Kibic
Ivan Volarič - Feo

Data

Year
2001
Genre
feature
Film format 
super 16mm 
Video format 
35mm 
Lenght 24fps 
1940 m 
Length 25fps 
64'48'' 
Sound 
Dolby Digital SR-D 
aspect ratio 
1,66:1 
color 
B&W 
language 
slovensko 
translation 
english 
 
 
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