Cannes Donkey Film ‘EO’ Unveils Trailer

It may officially be the year of the tiger in the Chinese zodiac calendar, but in the world of film it’s definitely the year of the little donkey.

The humble horse has appeared in films like Searchlight’s The Banshees of Inisherin and even Neon’s Triangle of Sadness, but nowhere has this faithful beast of burden grabbed more of the spotlight than Janus Films and legendary Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski’s sideshow EO.

The film – which shared the Cannes Jury Prize with Félix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch’s The Eight Mountains – conveys a vision of modern Europe through the prism of a gray donkey, EO, who is snatched away from his beloved circus artist by animal rights activists and went from hand to hand in the service of the people. Along the way, EO meets all sorts of people and experiences joy and pain, but also disasters and unexpected bliss.

A self-confessed animal lover, Skolimowski was inspired by Robert Bresson’s masterpiece Au Hasard Balthazar, which he saw shortly after its publication in 1966. “That was the lesson I learned from Bresson,” says Skolimowski. “That an animal hero can move you even more than a human hero.”

And indeed, the vulnerable EO is an innocent protagonist, which makes the atrocities he suffers from humans all the more heinous. However, Skolimowski warns that he used six donkeys to portray EO in the film and none were hurt in the production.

“EO” plays at the London Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival. It opens on November 18th in New York and December 2nd in Los Angeles.

Watch the official trailer below and read on diversity is Interview with Skolimowski and his co-writer and co-producer Ewa Piaskowska.

What attracted you to this topic?

Skolimovsky: I saw the Robert Bresson film a year after it was made and in 1966 Cahiers du Cinema published a list of the 10 best films made that year and Bresson’s film was number one on that list and my film was the second The list. I was in Paris at the time and had seen the Cahiers du Cinema [article] with my own eyes. When I saw who was in first place, I immediately went to the cinema to see the film. I was very impressed with the film. In an interview I gave shortly after seeing the film, I mentioned that this was the only occasion that brought tears to my eyes at the end of the film. That was the lesson I learned from Bresson: that an animal hero can move you even more than a human hero.

Why did you decide to humanize EO? There are a number of flashback scenes that suggest he has genuine feelings and harbors memories of his former owner.

Skolimovsky: We wanted to have an animal as the hero of the film. This film is related to my rejection of linear storytelling and narrative, which is 99% of film narrative. There is a repetition of a certain narrative pattern of this story: two people meet, they fall in love, they start dating, they are very happy, then something happens and they are not happy anymore. They try to separate, but their feelings are stronger than the need for separation. We know these stories so well that after 10 minutes of film in the cinema we know what’s going to happen next. Our boredom with this narrative made us explore all possibilities to find different ways to tell the movie and we thought having an animal as the center of the story would offer a new way to do that.

Piaskowska: And just as important is our absolutely sincere love of animals, our appreciation for nature. We have a house in the woods where we have been living for a few years. We’ve always had an animal by our side. The relationship we have with a creature that doesn’t use language but you feel into them and their psychological space and the complexities of their emotions. It’s just as important as what Jerzy just said.

Skolimovsky: It is a special experience. When we leave the house, instead of passing cars and people on the street, we see rabbits, foxes, deer in the forest. It’s a special gift. We can experience nature as it is, not as man has modified it.

Piaskowska: Our dog, a German shepherd – Buffon – also plays in the film.

How did you find working so closely and intensely with a particular species? I know donkeys are very intelligent, but they are quite stubborn. What were the challenges?

Skolimovsky: I disagree with the popular belief that donkeys are stubborn and stupid. stubborn? Yes, sometimes very stubborn. But not stupid. I found them extremely intelligent animals.

Piaskowska: The most important thing for us was not to cause the animal any harm, so for each location we shot we chose animals that were nearby and of the same species. It was important to have a husband and wife because there is a special energy between them.

Skolimowski: We chose the Sardinian donkey breed. The reason for choosing this particular breed is that they are very popular in Italy and as this is a co-production between Poland and Italy we knew we would end up shooting in Italy so we had to make sure we had them like ass there.

How many traders have you had working with you?

Skolimovsky: Each donkey that appeared in the film had its own attendant or attendant who brought them to the set in special trailers, fed them and prepared them. Who would teach him how to get from point A to point B. They were also in contact with veterinarians. In this way we have avoided health problems with the animals. We had vets on set all the time taking care of all the animals.

Piaskowska: They are our stars. The entire set – all the actors and crew – revolves around the donkeys.

Do you think this is a pessimistic story about humanity and the way we treat animals?

Skolimovsky: The whole film is dedicated to the idea of ​​changing people’s attitudes towards animals, to actually making people aware that animals, like people, are full of feelings and sensations and should not be treated like objects. They need interest and sensitivity in dealing with them, a sense of security and compassion. I wanted to create a sympathetic feeling between the viewers of the film and our main hero, the donkey, and other animals. We didn’t want to burden the story with a quasi-political appeal to moviegoers to show love for animals. We wanted to connect people with the animal and create a connection between the people watching the film and the animal. And when I achieved that goal of connecting people who saw the film and animals to understand that connection, I wanted to shake up the people who see the film to actually think about their attitudes toward animals can when they leave the cinema. Cannes Donkey Film ‘EO’ Unveils Trailer

Charles Jones

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