In our story two people fall in love, something which is very common, something that happens constantly, every minute, every second. And yet it can be so different. While we are happy to make plans for the future, for other cultures it can mean pain and suffering or even death. In short, something quite ordinary happens in our film, but it is located in a society that escapes our gaze and is mostly denied access to us, the “here-born”.
In recent years we have been to Eastern Slovakia several times to get an understanding of this culture. Poverty, love, joie de vivre, fear, insecurity, but also – and this is the decisive factor – the power of a culture of a population, which, no matter in which social environment they live, can be felt. They gave us a feeling of spontaneous zest for life, but also of a great emotionality, the strength that is also found in their music. It is exactly this power that is typical for this culture. A force that finds something life-affirming even in the most extreme poverty.
It was important to immerse ourselves in this world and to allow the creative departments involved in the creation of CRUSH MY HEART to accompany Alexandra Makarová on research trips. It was essential for us to show this parallel society as realistically as possible.
Under normal production conditions it would probably not have been possible to realize this film. Sometimes we had to take an unjustifiable economic risk. Why? Since the first reading of the treatment by Alexandra Makarová we could not escape the topic. How many times have we experienced that authors and directors work on projects for years and finally fail due to lack of funds, because it would be partially economically unreasonable to produce the film under the given conditions. We as producers worked very hard to insure that this film was made.
The milieu we are trying to portrait is based on a tradition that has not changed for centuries. A patriarchal society that can not freely agree with the notions of a modern world in which each person has the same rights, who she / he loves, or where she / he wants to live with.
Through centuries of expulsion, flight and enslavement, the constant marginalization by the majority society, only social cohesion was left to them. What we experienced in the slum-like Roma villages of Eastern Slovakia was the fact that the man/the father, must provide protection to their women and children. As a result, they also exercise violence over them. Even today, these patriarchal structures are still present and as part of this fathers have the right to dispose of their children. The welfare of the family is above the well-being of the individual. Patterns have been developed in which children and women are treated as commodities.
Shakespeare writes, “… and what love can do, dares to do love.” Our protagonists try to break out of their social conventions. The risk loving, knowing how difficult their lives will be. But through the power of love they forget the impending pain. Here we are again with our two strong motivations of which we write at the beginning. Motivations that have a long tradition in dramatic poetry. (Already in the METAMORPHOSEN of Ovid these motivations break out in PYRAMUS AND THISBE, Bandello introduces in his novel about the TRAGIC DEATH OF TWO UNBELIEVABLE LOVERS Romeo and Juliet, thus offering Shakespeare and de Vega the material for their dramas. This list could be continued through Keller’s ROMEO AND JULIA ON THE VILLAGE until Bernstein’s musical WEST SIDE STORY.)
It is important for us to combine this strong power of love with the emotions of the Roma people in a love story that is so old and yet is reinvented every day in our world.
In Vienna we display a prospective most of us do not know but which exists. We have experienced the power, but also the misery in which the Roma live. We have experienced living conditions in the Slovak villages that are unacceptable. We also see that this misery is not noticed by the public.
We think feature film is a medium to make the public aware and our goal was to convey the inner soul processes as well as the reality.
SIMON SCHWARZ / KONSTANTIN SEITZ