Favoriten (Favourites) is a beautiful film about a young girl who goes on a journey to find the father that she never knew, only to meet someone she didn’t expect along the way. Touching on the emotional subject of absent fathers, this film screened at Cannes Film Festival and competed as part of the Cinéfondation category. We had the chance to talk to the director Martin Monk about this film: asking him where the inspiration of Favourites came from, how it felt for him to have his film screened at Cannes, the cast and what projects he has coming up next.
Hi Martin, how are you doing?
Great! I’m catching up on some sleep after Cannes.
Congratulations on your amazing new short film “Favoriten (Favourites).” You did direct it but you also wrote the story for it. Where did the idea come from?
The idea came as I moved to my new adopted hometown Vienna, where I was starting a Master’s degree in Directing. I wanted to do a short road movie and show this emotion of leaving things behind, and of exploring uncharted territory. These were feelings I was going through myself at the time, so I felt it was a fitting project for me at that particular point in my life. And it is of course a film about family, which is a big topic for me as an artist.
In a film like this in which we follow the journey of two people together, the casting is incredibly important. How did you come across Christian Dolezal and especially Lia Wilfing, who makes her debut with this film?
There was definitely some luck, or destiny, involved with finding Lia! I was helping out on the casting of another school project when she walked in and did an improvisation that just blew me away. It was around the time of having the idea for the film and I knew instantly I wanted her to play the part. We exchanged contact information and I started working more on the script, finding locations and so on. Luckily, my gut feeling was spot on.
With Christian, it was diametrically opposite: a renowned German casting agent compiled a set of suggestions for me, as a favour. He was one of them and I absolutely wanted an Austrian actor, rather than a German one.
Sofia is looking for her father but we never see him, we never go into details about the relationship and we don’t know if she will meet him or not. Was it always to the idea to make the short film like this or were there plans to turn it into a full feature film and to see more about Sofia’s life?
To be honest, the feature film idea did cross my mind, but I realised quickly that this would be an entirely different movie. The relationship with the driver would not have the same value in such a movie. And so I decided against going into too much detail regarding this. I like this kind of story telling: in showing a thematically connected situation, you can tell so much also about larger underlying motivations and topics. The father topic is told through this encounter with a stranger. You speak about one thing specifically, and if you do it well, you implicitly also speak of other things. That is the beauty of cinema.
This film recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival. That must have been an amazing moment for you guys?
Yes, absolutely. It was a true honour, and we are all extremely grateful for this experience. Honestly, I’m not sure it has fully sunk in yet.
Are there any other film festivals you’re going to with “Favoriten (Favourites)”?
Yes, we have also been shortlisted for a BAFTA Student Award, and we have some other large festivals we are very much hoping to screen at. I can’t disclose that yet, unfortunately.
Where did your passion for film come from?
It comes from a life-long fascination with photographic cameras and images. I have also always been an avid reader. When I went to university, and tried other things professionally, I always had an underlying sense that there was something else out there for me, that would suit my interests and talents better. When I eventually stepped on a film set for the first time, I could immediately see myself in this world. And so I went for it and never looked back.
Which films and directors have inspired you the most so far?
I have a wide ranging taste for cinema of all kinds. I also have phases, where a particular director impresses me or touches me at a certain point in my life. For Favoriten (Favourites), I was inspired in part by Andrea Arnold’s American Honey.
But I also watch a lot of old cinema: recently, Tokyo Story by Yasujiro Ozu. A masterpiece for the ages.
Do you have any advice for people out there who want to get their foot in the door of the film industry?
There are no shortcuts, you have to do the work, put in the hours, and especially at the start give yourself the permission to make mistakes.
One last question: Are there any other projects you’re working on at the moment?
Yes, I’m currently working on another short. I hope to shoot it on film. On top of that, I’m writing, researching and developing my first feature film script.
Liselotte Vanophem, Film and Celebrity Reporter – Just Celebrity Magazine