On the verge of a relationship crisis, Croatian filmmaker Tatjana Bozix’s first feature-length documentary, tries to understand the patterns of her romantic relationships for the last 20 years. The director embarks on a journey to visit her ex-boyfriends all over Europe where she finds herself answering questions of love and life. With snippets of old footage from her previous relationships, she visits her ex-lovers and talks to them in hope to understand her present situation. We get the opportunity to meet these men and reminisce about the past as if we were a part of Tatjana’s life.
This is a great documentary about the relationship between love and reality, how our expectations are created on top of an imaginary idea of romance. As a woman, Tatjana was extremely brave to share this self-exploratory exercise along with the viewers, moments of intimacy and personal stories are shared to allow us to think of our paths and life choices as well. It’s remarkable the courage of all people involved to show their own way to deal with l-word.
I sat down to talk to director Tatjana about her latest film Happily Ever After.
Gomes: You used many scenes from your past in this extreme personal film. Where did the idea come to go after your past in order to get clarity to your issues at the time?
Bozic: Actually, I got the idea at the time when I thought I understand enough about my past relationships and patterns in them. I had feeling that it could make a good and funny move, to visit my ex’s. At that time I did not know Rogier, I actually met him while developing this idea at the international documentary master class in Belfast. And a new relationship brought new challenges… so in the film it was only natural to connect these two – visiting my exes in order to learn something to help this relationship.
Gomes: How did Rogier feel when you decided to embark on this journey?
Bozic: When I arrived to the masterclass in Belfast (Documentary Masterclass) where he was with his project and me with the idea of the film about love and visiting my previous partners, he had already read my treatment for the film. When we fell in love he was the one who initiated the filming. He is a filmmaker himself so he was willing to participate.
Gomes: Was it hard to convince your ex-boyfriends to participate in this project?
Bozic: Not really. It was more difficult for me for example to call actually Pavel after 18 years of complete silence, rather than get his permission. He was easy: “Come, we’ll sort it out” - “But I would like to come with the crew to our first meeting” . They all reacted positively, Jacob was a bit reluctant, but he also agreed. I asked them to help me, explained I am making a film about myself, not about them, and that worked well.
Gomes: How did you feel after completing this film? Do you thing you got the answers you needed?
Bozic: I feel calm. It was a long process, took year and a half to finish the editing process. About the answers, for sure I got what I needed; it was probably different from what I have expected. I got into the project with the premise: If you want to be happy, look at yourself, not others. But it was – now I know – theoretical. I ended with the same idea, but now it feels deeply stuck within me.
Gomes: Now, after having your child and being able to revisit your past and understand a bit more about yourself, what do you expect to happen next? How do you feel about love now?
Bozic: The change usually happens in one small second, but before that you work for a long time on it, without seeing any progress. It feels to me that several changes happened to me during the process of filmmaking, but they are not necessary parallel to the obvious milestone of having the film complete. Let’s say that my own process of inner emancipation, which the film in its core is about, and putting it all in one comprehensive story was not the same process.
Bozic: I love love! Just love and relationships are often separate, although often it seems, or we even demand for them to be one.
Gomes: I am looking forward to what you would be doing next. Do you have any project on the horizon?
Bozic: I am busy developing a series in the spirit of Happily Ever After, where instead of me I will follow other women. It will be about subjects we, women can relate easily to - like food and our bodies, children-work dilemma, women’s way of perceiving the world, etc. I like this style of talking about serious subjects in a (self)-ironical manner, with a light heart. I also want to develop further the open emotions that I was working with in this film, which is often on the edge and said to be (in a negative sense) a women’s film. But with humor and authenticity I think it can reach and touch hearts.