Purgatory Is A Place On Earth

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Director Goran Dukic talks about his 2006 Festival hit, Wristcutters: A Love Story, on general release Friday 23 November.

Wristcutters: A Love Story is a pitch-black comedy which has this year's best concept: those who commit suicide go to a purgatory which is a mirror image of earth, 'just a little worse'.

Director Goran Dukic's adaptation of Edgar Keret's novella 'Kneller's Happy Campers' first came to prominence in 2004, by winning the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab. He discusses his subsequent Sundance success with the movie and creating purgatory on a limited budget.

How did winning the Screenwriter’s Lab help you make the picture?

Goran Dukic: Before the Screenwriter’s Lab I sent the script to a lot of people and nobody wanted to read it. After the Lab, some of the same people were asking me to send them the script, so it acted like a stamp of approval.

What genre does the film fit into?

GD: Well, it’s hard. I’d say it’s a dark comedy, a road movie and a love story – pick what you like! Really, it’s a comedy about suicide that’s very uplifting and optimistic.

How did you manage to get actors like Patrick Fugit and Shannyn Sossamon on a low budget?

GD: Everyone, including the crew, worked for minimum pay. They all just worked for the love of the script. The actors knew that we couldn’t afford to have luxuries on the set but it was never a problem. In fact, it helped create a real enthusiasm and we had a great time shooting the film.

Tom Waits has an unforgettable cameo in the film. Were you a fan?

GD: I’ve been a fan of his since I was 13 years old! We sent the script completely randomly to his agent and suddenly got this call back from him telling us he loved it. It was amazing to get him.

How do you create purgatory on a shoestring budget?

GD: We wanted to have a washed-out, monochromatic look but still retain some brighter colours because it’s a comedy. So we had to do it by digital intermediate; shooting in Super 16, transferring to digital and then back to 35mm. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

On your return to Sundance this year you were nominated for a Grand Jury prize and had incredible reviews from the likes of Variety. What difference do the awards and accolades make to you?

GD: Well, the awards do help with publicity and distribution. What I like most is winning audience awards. We’ve won audience awards in Seattle, came second in Sundance and won it with a very different audience in Croatia. These are definitely the dearest to me because it’s the audience I made the movie for.

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