I liked the idea of process: being on the path means you still havent reached your goal, your destination.
I wanted the film to be very open, trying out different paths for its characters. Luna and Amar are searching for something
and havent found their goal yet. In order to go on, they have to search in their past and they will have to search even
more in their future. Jasmila Zbanic about her new film On the Path
On the Path is the story of a couple having problems in conceiving a baby. The question of giving birth to a new human being might also
be understood as a metaphor for the difficulties on making a new beginning, starting out a new life in the aftermath of war
after so much destruction, after so much pain. Would you agree with this interpretation? Jasmila Zbanic: Yes. Through maternity there is so much reflection going on, the very essential decisions of a human being
are at stake: a woman has to decide from whom she wants to have a child, under which conditions, in which atmosphere do you
want to have your child. There is a tight link to this question in Grbavica ? what to do with the child you didnt want
to have, because it was conceived with a person you hate and because it had happened through violence and rape. I consider
On the Path also as a film about choices and the freedom of decision. Compared to Esma in Grbavica, Luna has now the freedom
of options, she is free to decide.
Can you sense this difficulty of starting a new life in your country, even though the essential question of maternity seems
the fundamental theme of your story? Jasmila Zbanic: Definitely. The feeling, the atmosphere of being able to go on is pretty much challenging. It is rooted in
the trauma, but lives go on, take new forms, there are new steps to make and we have to admit that these possibilities exist.
There are new questions about identity, about new forms in which life takes shape and Luna and Amar have different answers
to the same questions.
The classical plot of a love story follows a man and a woman trying to find each other and ends up with the two falling in
love. On the Path is a story about a couple which is deeply in love and we observe them losing each other, becoming strangers to each other.
Is On the Path in a certain way an inverted love story? Jasmila Zbanic: When I was writing the story I became aware of how tough the task was. Describing love means always moving
along the edge. You could so easily be trapped by kitsch. People who love each other are less interesting than people who
take every opportunity to start fighting. It was very challenging to show those little details that describe the life of loving
people without falling into the standard pictures. The bathroom scene where Amar says to pooping Luna that she
should flush the toilet because of the smell ? that were the pictures I was looking for, they tell something about everyday
life, and even these unpleasant situations are pleasant and fine with the two of them. They are frank enough to each other
that they could say it. This establishing of love was a difficult task. And then it moves from this harmonious situation to
the loss of each other. There a many layers that define that relationship, they have a similar story and a similar path and
they are united in that. There are many layers of loving each other and forgiving each other the minor stuff.
In general a classical love story gets problematic as soon as there is an intruder, jealousy and betrayal. In the case of
On the Path this is not another man or another woman, it is religion and religious fundamentalism. There is a moment in the
camp where Luna seems to be seized by sheer panic as she realizes that she is about to lose Amar. How would you describe this
third love destructing force? Jasmila Zbanic: When somebody else enters the relationship ? whether a person or religion or a set of rules
? they sense it as a third party. They should find a way how to be two of themselves together. I have experienced myself that
ideological somebody else interfering in someones life, call it socialism or nationalism or religion, it
takes the same forms whatever it is. There is a structure that suddenly shapes you as a person. This is something that I can
feel very deeply in my region even if I could talk more globally, I prefer to go back to the territory I know. I am not able
to explain, I could only smell it or sense it in my skin. Very often you are confronted to this sets of ideas that people
are possessed by and that make people feel better. Of course Amar needs to be accepted, he needs a new identity and these
new ideas dont give him power, but a possibility to find himself, to find more easily a sense of life. He suddenly finds
all answers to all his questions in one book, in one set of mind. He starts to change by fitting into it and that is the moment
when Luna starts to ask Who is this person in front of me. A lot of clashes always happened in my country when
this third somebody came into the relationship. For me it is very obvious and strong that this third somebody
is not stronger by individual feelings, its not like you can see in older ex-Yugoslavian films where the state interfered
into relationships and people became victims. I dont feel it that way. My decision is not only rational. I really believe
very deeply that human beings could be stronger than this third force. Maybe it is due to my experience of war,
I met so many people who were taken by these ideas, who got sick by these ideas, who became somebody else. But I also met
so many people who were stronger than this manipulation. They kept themselves the way they wanted. They were stronger than
any system, any regime, any religion, any set of rules.
You show Amar and Luna in a very vicious situation ? he is trying to get rid of his alcohol problem (what Luna wishes very
much), but the prize to pay is to accept him seized by another addiction. Jasmila Zbanic: One addiction is replaced by another one, that was very often my experience during research that these urban
people ? and a have to point out that this story is a story about urban societies; in the villages it would be a different
story. For urban people it happened so often that one addiction, or a feeling of being outside society lead people to wahhabism.
Most of the people I met were punks or alternative in some way, or addicted to narcotics or alcohol. They had this little
crack so that religion could implant itself very easily.