Sweetshop & Green has begun shooting Moja Vesna, the film directed by Sara Kern that it is producing with Cvinger Films. It is the feature debut from award-winning the Slovenian-Australian writer and director.
Kern’s 2016 short, Good Luck, Orlo! premiered at the 73rd Venice Film Festival and went on to screen at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Chicago IFF and Seattle IFF.
The film is being shot in Melbourne, where the story is set. After the sudden death of her mother, Moja (10) becomes the unexpected grown-up of her fragmented family, immigrants to suburban Melbourne, seeking to reconcile her troubled, pregnant older sister, Vesna, and disconsolate father, Milos.
Finding the actor to play Moja within the the Slovenian-Australian community was important to Sweetshop & Green. Casting director, Fiona Dann of Catapult Casting, was chosen for the search and Loti Kovacic was discovered. Kovacic is a non-professional actor who was cast through a vast grassroots call-out to the Slovenian community throughout Australia.
Mackenzie Mazur plays Vesna. Mazur is a new talent, an American-Australian of Polish ancestry. For her role as Vesna, she has been taking Slovenian language classes with a professional Slovenian theatre master. Gregor Baković plays the father, Milos. Baković is a highly regarded and awarded Slovenian actor who is employed full-time at SNG Drama Ljubljana (Slovenian National Theatre). He has appeared in more than seventy theatre plays and holds the highest national status of an actor in Slovenia. He is in Melbourne for rehearsals and filming.
One of Australia’s most recognised actresses, Claudia Karvan, joins the cast as Miranda, the mother of Danger, Moja’s best friend. Karvan first appeared in Gillian Armstrong’s High Tide (1987) with Judy Davis and has since starred in Stan series, Bump, for which she was also co-creator and producer of the Stan series, Love My Way, The Secret Life of Us and Puberty Blues.
Flora Feldman will play the role of Danger (10). Feldman joins the team after finishing a successful season performing in Solaris at the Malthouse Theatre directed by Matthew Lutton and starring Keegan Joyce, Leanna Walsman and Hugo Weaving.
The production team includes Slovenian cinematographer, Lev Predan Kowarski, who has travelled to Australia for the shoot; line producer, Rachel Forbes; production manager, Ira Cecic; first AD, Andy Pante; production designer, Maddison Haywood and costume designer, Ellen Stanistreet.
Shooting will take place around Melbourne, including in and around the suburbs of Sunshine North, St Albans, Collingwood and Kew.
The film has received major production investment from Screen Australia in association with the Slovenian Film Centre. It is financed with support from Film Victoria and Radio Television Slovenija (RTV) and developed through the Torino Film Lab and Cannes Cinéfondation Residence.
Moja Vesna will be produced by Gal Greenspan and Sharlene George of Sweetshop & Green and Rok Biček, of Cvinger Film.
Gal Greenspan, co-managing director of Sweetshop & Green, commented, “We’re thrilled to see this special project reach production. Sara is a very talented and unique filmmaker. Over the last few years she has built an incredible world through the script, team and cast she’s brought together for Moja Vesna. We look forward to sharing her first feature with audiences in 2022.”
Rok Biček, founder of Cvinger film, said, “We are very grateful to our Australian and Slovenian colleagues who have been instrumental in bringing this first ever Slovenian-Australian co-production to life in Melbourne. It will be fascinating to see director, Sara Kern, and Slovenian cinematographer, Lev Predan Kowarski, teaming up together again to work their magic and create another gem in Australia.”
Caroline Pitcher, CEO of Film Victoria, added, “Sara’s beautifully nuanced script for her debut feature impressed our development team at Film Victoria from the very start. We’re excited to now support Moja Vesna to commence production in Melbourne and to see Sara, Gal and their team of talented creators bring her distinctive vision to life.”
Cover image by Jane Zhang