Slovakian director Martin Šulík belongs among the established and leading figures in the contemporary Slovak cinema. His previous work, social realistic drama Gypsy, was finished in 2011 and had a successful run on the festival circuit. After seven-year hiatus, Šulík returns with yet another feature-length project The Interpreter with a leading cast able to get the project trumpeted all over the world.
The director managed to cast a power couple as the protagonists, Peter Simonischek as the unforgettable and determined father creating alter-ego Toni Erdmann to get closer to his estranged daughter in the eponymous award- and acclaim-winning Maren Ade´s dramedy (read the review). As his counterpart and a wing-man of sort appears Czech director Jiří Menzel, a member of Czech New Wave, who won the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film in 1967 for his feature debut Closely Watched Trains, along other accolades he is owner of several lifetime achievement awards.
They portray two octogenarians attempting to understand their lives in the autumn of of their lives however Šulík grasps serious and actual topic in the Central Europe as the spectre of fascism begins to haunt the land again. Menzel stars as ascetic teacher Ali of Jewish origin whose parents were killed by an Austrian SS officer whereas Simonischek is an Austrian hedonistic former teacher struggling with alcoholism and his father's past. The quest of unearth what happened long ago brings them together on a kaleidoscopic journey across Slovakia of bizarre situations and eccentric personalities and begin to eventually understand their acts and identities.
„Once, I was listening to a reading from the book of an Austrian author Martin Pollack, Dead Man in the Bunker: Discovering My Father, in a car. He was describing his relation to his father, a middle-ranking SS officer who operate around Ružomberok [a town in northern Slovakia] in 1944 and he commanded to get several dozens of civilians killed. Those couple of pages of the text touched because I grew up around Ružomberok and I knew the stories," Šulík who co-wrote the script revealed the primary impetus for The Interpreter. The co-writer of the story is Marek Leščák whose latest writing credit is Nina (read the review). „We wanted to look on the whole probel from two perspectives, so we came up with an opponent to the Austrian character, the character of interpreter who lost his whole family during the war. Gradually, a tragicomic road movie emerged, a story of two old-timers who want to understand their lives at the end of life," adds the Slovak veteran director.
The Slovak, Czech and Austrian co-produced film is slated for domestic premiere on March 1 2018. However, the appearance on the festival circuit and outside the production countries is expected as Celluloid Dreams has acquired the world rights back in May 2017 and introduced the project at Cannes market to potential distributors.