Beasts / Slovenia
Maja Križnik was born in Slovenia. After graduating from Comparative Literature and Philosophy she also studied Film and Television Directing at AGRFT. She graduated with the film Little Fish (2016) for which she received the 2016 Vesna Award for best student film. In the following years she has mostly worked as an assistant director and scriptwriter, mainly for animated projects.
She received the Slovenian Film Centre funds for script development for her first feature Zverine (Beasts) that she is now happily developing.
Not sure if she wants a baby, JANJA (39) slips into her ill sister’s family life and for a minute pretends it’s her own.
Three sisters bury their father. JANJA (39), the youngest, hasn’t cried in years even though life has been literally throwing reasons at her face. She is becoming an achieved psychiatrist, but she\’s intimately growing irritated with her prescribing medication as the only remedy. She still does though, sometimes even to her crazy hippy sister RUBI (49) only to get high. Her highly pregnant middle sister MEGI (45) gets a cancer diagnosis hours after delivering a baby son, Kolja. But she is a fighter and will beat this.
Miloš, Janja’s boyfriend of 15 years, tells Janja he’s changed his mind and is now insisting on having a baby.
She starts questioning her decision to not have children in life, but is too scared to go there. Her sister Rubi’s is childless and happy, it seems, so she starts spending more time with her, sometimes being envious of her free spirit.
Janja and Rubi both step in to help Megi’s family after the baby is born. More and more pressured to have kids of her own, Janja rather starts spending more and more time taking care of her sister’s baby. And her sister’s husband.
Before she realizes it, she slips into her sister\’s life while caring for the baby and gets intimately involved with IGOR (46), her sister’s husband.
Her professional life becomes endangered when a patient claims he has an intimate relationship with her.
Unaccustomed to being anything but perfect, she becomes entangled in a series of bad decisions that confront her in her own emptiness.
As her sister Megi becomes cancer free, Janja comes clean with her partner, Miloš.
The guilt tearing away at her, she finally gets her redemption in her sisters’ embrace.
Mainly, Beasts is about guilt. And rage. And forgiveness. And how easy it is to not feel human in this human body.
Beasts were born on one of my first of many sleepless nights as a new mother. Hungry for a coherent thought I came up with an idea of a woman who does every single thing right, but manages to mess everything up really bad.
We don’t have any real control in life.
JANJA is an almost 40 year old, who has put every effort of her adult life into being in charge. She is an achieved psychiatrist who’s decided not to become a mother so it comes as a huge shock that her loving boyfriend suddenly really wants a baby.
She’s trying to escape confronting him and isn’t having any trouble finding the distraction – because Life unfolds.
As her sister gets diagnosed with cancer, Janja spends less and less time at home and more and more time at her sister’s home. There she takes care of her sister’s children – and also starts spending more and more time with her sister’s husband.
Janja’s character is based on the immense gap between how one can feel and how one is perceived by others. She really tries hard to be “relaxed”. She envies her eldest sister’s free spirit but all the while knows she can’t pretend it’s hers.
She is so desperately avoiding the question of becoming a mother with her partner, she would rather “steal” someone else’s family. Out of fear of making a bad decision, she slides into a bad, bad situation.
She makes a lot of mistakes. She hurts herself and others greatly.
The family in Beasts is a compilation of every bit of messed up family information I could come up with while talking to people. I love hearing people talk and lie, so this film will explore the way people communicate. Mainly, I’m interested in humor as a coping mechanism.
The narrative of the film is not funny at all. In fact, it is so dire, that being able to laugh about life is the last resort.
This contrast between a serious topic and a comedic approach to it is something I want to explore more. While respectfully dealing with “big” topics, a less heavy atmosphere leaves a lot of room for feeling human. And to me, there is nothing more human than laughing and crying at the same time. The characters in Beasts are in constant dissonance with the world and should feel quirky and misplaced.
So Beasts is an intimate film about people who really want to “get” life. But they only get to live it.
I find the fact that everyone alive knows they once won’t be alive, but they’re still trying, very intense. And a little funny, too.
Producer: Vlado Bulajić / December (SLOVENIA)
Funding: Script Development (Slovenia)