A report by Martin Kudláč for Cineuropa.
Slovak filmmaker Lucia Kašová has finished her feature-length documentary debut, The Sailor. Kašová previously shot several short documentaries, including Concrete Times (2018) and Mother.Gabrielle.Television (2018), and gained wider recognition after helming an episode of the television cycle Expremiéri (Former PMs), which revolved around Robert Fico, who stepped down as PM after the murder of a journalist (read more here). Kašová noted that she started studying at a film school in order to make The Sailor.(The article continues below – Commercial information)
The film is inspired by her encounter with so-called sea Gypsies on the Caribbean islands. “These people threw away their passports and didn’t carry a flag from their home country; the sea was their nationality, religion and companion,” she explains, adding that the film originally started off as a portrait of the community. However, the movie took an unexpected turn after the director met a sailor called Paul Johnson, who would later become the protagonist. “After all of my inner questions and insecurities about their way of life, the way in which I wanted to follow them was there, right in front of me. A man in his eighties with the eyes of a child, who had lived this dream to the fullest all his life, never listened to anybody but the sea. A stubborn man, he is an iconic symbol of freedom,” said Kašová, clarifying that the film is not about sailing, but about “the relationship between selfishness and freedom, and what is at the end of this journey”.
From a formal point of view, she opted for an observational approach, capturing the protagonist “in the limbo between dreams and the reality of an alcoholic”, using wide lenses and shooting up close to Johnson. Furthermore, the director decided to utilise archive footage to add a layer of memories along with shots of the island, which, according to Kašová, “has its own parallel with Johnson’s stories”. The Sailor was shot over two months on the Caribbean island of Carriacou. “All of the shooting took place during the hurricane season, as the hurricanes play an important role in the film. We finally succeeded in making the feature, and I’m very happy that in addition to the film, we also managed to create an online series of making-of videos,” says the film’s producer, Nazarij Kľujev, of Toxpro. The Sailor will have its world premiere in the World Showcase section of the upcoming Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (29 April-9 May), where it will be competing for the Audience Award.
The Sailor is being produced by Slovak production company Toxpro and has been supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. The domestic distribution is handled by Film Expanded, and it is scheduled for a summer release. The film was presented at IFF Febiofest Industry Days in 2019 (see the report).
You can watch the teaser below: