I wasn’t interested in religion but in the main character’s personal change


Of all the films vying for the Grand Prix in the Competition of Fiction Films, perhaps the most vivid response from the Bratislava audience received Worldly Girl (La Ragazza del mondo) that tells a story of Giulia, a young member of Jehova’s Witnesses community whose strict life and ascetic set of values is suddenly turned upside down after her meeting with a young drug dealer of a symptomatic name, Libero. Director Marco Danieli who attended the festival screening yesterday shared with us some behind-the-scenes information from the making of his first feature-length motion picture.





EK: Perhaps the most interesting thing about your film is that nothing in it is black or white. Even when portraying the community of Jehova’s Witnesses, you showed a great deal of sensitivity without even an attempt at ridicule. Did you make any research into similar religious communities? Or have any of the creators had a similar experience?

MD: By no means has it been our goal to demonise Jehova’s Witnesses in any way and I am very glad that you asked me a question like that. We are not journalists to survey any religious community and we definitely did not want to be ideological. In the beginning when we started to write the script for the picture, it came through somehow more grotesque as all protagonists were basically divided into two camps of “good ones” and “bad ones”. It was not until later that we began to strive to add another dimension, so to speak, to individual characters including our heroine as we endowed her with some sort of ambiguity. Previously, I knew precious little about Jehova’s Witnesses, which was just about as much as anybody else. It is important to note that Italy has the largest community of Jehova’s Witnesses in entire Europe. But everything everybody ever seems to know about them is that they go from door to door, ring people’s doorbells and refuse blood transfusion. That is pretty much everything they know. That is why I was immensely intrigued when one female friend of mine told me that she had been a member of Jehova’s Witnesses while growing up. One could say this curiosity was of anthropologic origin. I was particularly interested in that girl’s personal story and specific moments in her life. What I admired the most about her was her courage: the courage to sacrifice her entire world, all of her relationships. If any member decides to leave or is expelled, the reaction of the congregation is very strict. After the community decides to expel you, your friends stop greeting you on the street and even the relations within your own family tend to get very complicated. After I had heard my friend’s story, I began to meet with other people who had a personal insider experience with the Jehova’s Witnesses community. Some of them were still members while others had been expelled. Sometimes we would go and attend their gatherings in their halls of the kingdom.

EK: To a significant degree, the film is based on the intensity of the main protagonists, Giulia and Libero, rendered by Sara Serraiocco and Michele Riondino, and their mutual relationship. How did you find your collaboration with these two actors and what means of expression – that is, besides their superb acting – did you use to elaborate on this tension?

MD: Together with the author of the screenplay, we spent a long time rehearsing with both actors before the shooting. In the process, they even changed some of the lines or came up with their own ones that were subsequently incorporated into the screenplay. At the same time, we got lucky that something very precious happened as there was truly some spark between the two. It did not continue outside the set but during the shooting it was wonderful. As a director, I tried to nurture these favourable circumstances by giving them as much freedom on the set as possible. I tried to avoid forcing them to spend too long in some unnatural lighting or positioning, for instance, as I wanted to let them move around as freely as possible. At the same time, we all strove to view the set as the place of creativity. Although I had everything planned out originally, I didn’t have problems improvising on the spot once we began shooting. For instance, the scene when they kiss for the first time. I arrived to the set where everything had been prepared according to the screenplay – actors, camera, everything. And suddenly I decided it could make the scene a little more special if the camera circled around them on rail all the time. And so we did it. In my opinion, this improvisational approach helped a lot in accommodating the actors.

EK: In an interesting coincidence, your movie arrived in Slovakia at practically the same time as Paolo Sorrentino’s TV series, The Young Pope. I must say I see a lot of parallels between these two representations of the struggle between reason and religion, between personal freedom and tradition. What was your personal motivation to make this film?

MD: I cannot say that I am generally too attracted to religious issues. I was much more interested in the personal story and inner conflict of this concrete girl who at one particular moment suddenly changes from a girl to a mature woman. It is important that the story is taking place against the backdrop of the Jehova’s Witnesses community because the degree of religious freedom in Italy is quite considerable nowadays. There are no great conflicts between generations in the majority society; however, the community of Jehova’s Witnesses still continues to nurture the kind of relations the remainder of society nurtured many years ago. About 20 to 30 years ago, there was still significant political and ideological pressure on young people and strong family traditions that affected them. Today, that pressure is gone. Even the Catholic Church has lost some of its influence as most people have drifted away from religion. That is why I found it so interesting to be able to delve into the Jehova’s Witnesses community. They are completely normal Italians like me or anybody else; the only difference is that they live in a completely different world, a world full of traditions that very strongly determine their lives.

Eva Križková

(Translated by Daniel Borský)


Dear film fans and supporters of the art of cinema, dear festival visitors, colleagues and friends, With great regret, we must report that the Bratislava International Film Festival will not be held in 2019. Believe us, we were the last ones to want to make this decision, but at the same time, we wanted to
be the first to announce it.

Based on votes cast by the visitors, the Bratislava IFF Viewers’ Choice Award went to Wanuri Kahiu’s second feature film Rafiki (2018) about forbidden love in Kenya.

Awards of the 20th Bratislava IFF 2018

“If you’re lucky enough to make living of something you really love, there is a downside – you don’t do it for fun, it’s a job.”


Tomáš Hudák. He studied Film studies (criticism) at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU). He’s a fan of film, music, literature and the art as such. He’s a freelancer, writing film reviews and co-organizing several Slovakian film festivals.

“It’s nice to step out from the bubble of social networks – the binary world of likes/unlikes to be part of the group of totally different people, who are connected only by the skateboards.”


Šimon Šafránek. – director, journalist, DJ – multi-genre artist with the sensation of music and word. He’s a freelancer, writing for the Denník N, Hospodářské noviny, Reflex, Magnus etc.

“Films make us better, braver, more romantic and free”


Bibiana Ondrejková. A popular theatre and voice actress and presenter. The general public knows her as the Slovak voice of Phoebe Buffay from the TV show Friends. Upon seeing her, viewers will associate her with the Slovak TV series The Defenders (2014), Red Widow (2014), Homicide Old Town (2010) or Block of Flats (2008).

“Actors infuse film with emotion and give it a soul”

Daniel Rihák. A fresh graduate of film directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava under the leadership of prof. Martin Šulík. A director of (so far) student films and a number of commercials. His graduation film The Trip recently won the Best Director and Best Sound awards at the Áčko Student Film Festival.

“All women have the power to change things”


Ivana Hucíková belongs to the generation of young Slovak filmmakers. She studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, from which she graduated in 2015 with her film Mothers and Daughters. A Bratislava citizen from Orava, living and creating in Slovakia and the USA. So far, she has made several short documentary films: Into My Life (2018), Connie & Corey (2017) and is currently working on the development of several film projects as their director, producer or editor.

“Cinema is a great medium for sharing common European values”


Dominika Jarečná was born in 1999 in Bratislava. She currently studies Theory and History of Arts at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic). She was a member of the Giornate degli Autori jury at this year’s Venice IFF and is a LUX Prize ambassador for the years 2018 and 2019.

Film festival: “It’s a bit like a vacation full of stories”

Alena Sabuchová is a young Slovak author and screenwriter. For her debut collection of short stories Back rooms, Alena was awarded the Ivan Krasko Prize for the best Slovak-language debut as well as the Tatra banka Foundation Young Artist Award in the category of literature. She writes scripts for television and radio, and is currently working on her second book, which will be published next year.

“These films were among the most awarded debut films at this year’s leading festivals”


Nenad Dukić. Serbian film critic, who has been collaborating with the team of people preparing The Bratislava International Film Festival for 8 years now. This year (the 20th anniversary of the festival’s existence), he is again the compiler of the Fiction Competition and co-compiler of the section Cinema Now.

The popular section Cinema Now brings an overview of the most remarkable films of the season. Its curators, Nenad Dukid and Tomáš Hudák, have assembled the most interesting movies that have stirred the waters of world’s major festivals. For 20 years, the Bratislava IFF has been supplying the Slovak film public with names, which often become stars of the screen.