Darko Štante: Consequences of Masculinity

February 4, 2019
In his debut feature film Consequences, Slovenian director Darko Štante tackles sexuality and issues of masculinity through the lives of troubled teens.

In the film, 17-year old Andrej is admitted to a rehabilitation institution for troubled youth where he meets Željko, another delinquent inmate who soon starts exploiting Andrej in return for keeping his homosexuality a secret. And so, begins a twisted love affair of manipulation and tests of personal responsibility and moral integrity. The central theme of the film revolves around the double life Andrej is leading – how is he coping with all of the expectations people have of him and what are the consequences that his actions will have on his future?

Initially Štante intended for Consequences to be a documentary or cinéma vérité, where the images speak for themselves but felt it would not be possible to make this sort of film in Slovenia.

“Slovenia is a small country where almost everyone knows everyone. People avoid exposing themselves publicly, especially when delicate topics are concerned. Institutions like to present their workings only in a positive light. People don’t like to be in that kind of documentary.”

Darko Stante attends the FilmMaker Afternoon Tea at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for BFI)

Štante graduated from the faculty of social work at the University of Ljubljana and was employed as a tutor at a rehabilitation institute for troubled youth, yet the detention centre teachers are incredibly weak figures in the film.

“Teachers are afraid of their future, to lose their jobs. They are not in touch with today’s youth. To me they represent the system, and the system doesn’t work. It’s losing touch with contemporary problems in society.”

The director chose to cast the film in a unique way, asking all of the actors to rehearse for the main roles. He explains that he didn’t want to ‘close the door’ before he knew the capabilities and qualities of all the actors.

“In Slovenia we have a strong theatre tradition. It’s such a small country (Slovenia’s population is estimated at 2.08 million), all the actors have to work in theatre and on several sitcoms, soap operas, etc. Actors aren’t able to obligate themselves just for film. For me, it was also interesting to see how all the characters change when played by a different person. It was important that all the actors felt good about their characters. In the end, most of them knew what their capabilities were and discovered what their limitations were. Then I decided who would play each character.”

Štante and his cast and crew were less erudite when it came to the more salubrious acts of reckless youth, so research involved talking to teens about how they partied and even how to steal a car.

Gasper Markun, Sara Gjergek, Darko Stante, Timon Sturbej and Rok Kajzer Nagode attend the UK Premiere of Consequences at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images) 

“The actors all came from middle class surroundings and were not familiar with the world of a youth detention centre and didn’t have any real-life experiences they could call upon like the characters of the film were going through. I organised for them to go incognito into a youth detention centre so they could see the environment and study the body language of the inmates.”

He also drew upon his social worker skills when workshopping scenes with the actors.

“As the young actors didn’t have much experience in the field of crime, fighting, etc, we talked about their emotional situations when they experienced similar emotions to those they had to represent as their characters. I spent a lot of time with the actors trying to ‘build them up’ to become juvenile delinquents. I think my youth teacher skills and social worker education helped me as a director.”

Consequences has been embraced by the LGBTQ community in Slovenia and abroad but despite the subject matter Štante doesn’t see it as a purely LGBTQ film. His target audience was Millennials – a young audience of 15 to 35 – as he thought they were likely to be more tolerant and maybe the film would get some of them to look at things differently.

Consequences was created to be a film about discovering one’s own sexual identity as a process that develops in parallel with Andrej’s search for his place in society. My primary goal was to humanise and bring a deep authenticity and empathy to the sexual identity of the main character. I hope that we soon manage to rise above the level of discourse of some recent debates, and that Consequences can open up conversations in Slovenia and throughout the world about important human rights issues.”

Consequences will screen as part of the Queer Screen Film Festival on February 17 and 25 February. Tickets can be purchased here: https://tix.queerscreen.org.au/Events/Consequences-/Sun-Feb-17-2019-20-00

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