LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN / Croatia
Judita Gamulin (Zagreb, 1992.) graduated in Film and television directing from the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Art where she has previously earned a BA degree in editing. For the last 5 year she has been working in movie and commercial industry as editor, script supervisor, screenwriter, 1st AD and director.
She has written and directed 5 short fiction movies till now: Daddy Issues (2014), Minus 4 (2015), Flowers (2015), Marica (2017) and Floating (2019 – in post production).
Her short fiction Flowers (2015) was among the finalists of the 43rd Student Academy Awards in 2016, and recently she participated in Future Frames – European Film Promotion program for 10 most promising European young directors at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2018.
She is currently in post production phase of her short fiction Floating that has been supported for production from national film fond – Croatian Audiovisual Centre and presented at European Short Pitch 2018 (NISI MASA).
The film follows four different families that arrive at the Zagreb IKEA in various numbers. Their stories are told simultaneously, changing from one story into the next in a couple of places where the families meet – not directly, maybe even from far away, in the shape of an eye contact or a reaction, which gives us a new perspective.
DRAGAN and MIRJANA (68) are a married couple, intellectuals. We find them fighting, Dragan is passive-aggressively punishing Mirjana for hurting him. Through bickering over the furniture, serious frustrations surface – Dragan admits that he resents Mirjana for not wanting his children and for distancing him from his previous family. At the moment that their relationship starts collapsing, Dragan inadvertently wets himself in public, which almost forcefully reunites them as they realize they are too old to be alone. ANITA (39) is shopping with her husband, father and two small children, but it looks more like she is there with four children. The focus is on her dysfunctional but warm relationship with her father, while her husband is running amok, euphoric, in the background, playing with the older son. She is desperately craving support and help, and it is only when the passers-by look at her seemingly happy family with admiration that she finds some consolation. For a moment she feels proud, but soon realizes that her husband’s behaviour is fuelled by cocaine and that this image of a happy family that was so hard to reach is only the result of opiates. MATIJA (28) works at IKEA, he is very good at his job and is well-liked by his colleagues. His father, who expected that his son who has a degree in architecture would work in his field, comes to visit him at IKEA. While there, the father, who feels like he has given up so much in his life so that his son could live better, is witness to a scene in which one of the customers verbally abuses Matija, which leads to a fight after which they part ways. SVEN (38) and LEONA (33) are a new couple moving in together. They depend on financial help from her mother, who uses her position to manipulate and patronise them, and they are also accompanied by Leona’s passive father who is keeping a secret: he has lost a large amount of the family money.
All of the fights are suddenly interrupted by the same event. A man has fallen unconscious in the store lobby and workers, followed soon enough by paramedics, have gathered around him. The panicked voices of the paramedics who plan on reanimating, the sound of the defibrillator and several silent periods in between. While listening in on the situation, the characters experience a change of perspective. Suddenly they are faced with their own realities, rearrange their priorities and make radical decisions. The characters argue in front of an audience, they argue amongst themselves, cry silently, get lost, run, hide from one another and change their lives. As they run around in circles across the one-way shopping centre trying to escape their own families, they realize that they might be too weak to run away. Why are we forcefully fitting ourselves into families that do not fit us, stay in those we are fated to be in, and attempt to deal with the frustrations caused by our families by redecorating the homes we would rather run away from?
Leave the door open is a feature film set entirely in the space of an IKEA store. With its unique expression and content, just like a National Geographic documentary, it dives deeply into our humaneness.
This is a film about the dynamics of our everyday lives spent in a conventional family structure. It is about family frustrations passed on from generation to generation, about parents who define us as persons, about us as we define our new families – about our eternal loneliness. It is about the habits that we cannot get rid of and the routine we hide. About the minute psychology that, by making mistakes in communication, slowly changes the course of our lives. All these families arrived at IKEA with the hope that by rearranging their homes, they will improve their family lives, but in the ideal homes shown in IKEA catalogues there are no ideal people. And while they walk in circles in the one-way store, trying to get away from their own families, they realize they may be too weak to get away. Or are they too weak to stay? The family is a crude institution one cannot run away from, but, no matter what you do, you can always come back to.
The sociological phenomenon in which women, as well as men, regardless of their age, often try to put themselves in something I like to call a small box of family conventions, in which they almost never fit, but are trying to remain in no matter what, is something that has fascinated me me for a long while now. When I try to imagine what our descendants will think of us in the year 2095, I think they will mock all the unhappy families, as well as all the people who stayed together because of convention, tradition and fearing loneliness. And even if they decide to abandon that concept, in the end, they often come back home, no matter what that home is like.
Producer: Rea Rajčić (Eclectica)
Funding: Croatian Audiovisual Centre – support for script development, Croatian Audiovisual Centre – support for project development, Croatian Audiovisual Centre – support for production
Training and Co-Production Markets: Cinefondation Residence, Cinemart Winner, MIDPOINT Feature Launch.