It was the spectre of yet another failed relationship on the horizon that prompted Croatian filmmaker Tatjana Bozic to make her candid documentary Happily Ever After exploring her chaotic love life of the last 20 years.
The film is born out of a project Bozic first started developing more than a decade ago.
“After a series of failed relationships I decided I wanted to look at the topic in a funny way,” explains Bozic, who studied journalism and then film in Moscow in the early 1990s.
“Talking to my girlfriends, I got the sense it was always the women doing the running, sacrificing themselves if you like… and I wanted to look at this.”
The project was put on the back-burner, however, after Bozic fell in love yet again, this time with a Dutch filmmaker, while attending a documentary masterclass in 2005 during development.
“I met Rogier… it was love at first sight on both sides and within a few weeks I was pregnant and had moved to the Netherlands,” said Bozic.
By the time Bozic returned to the film again her relationship with Rogier was also deteriorating. “The focus of the film shifted. It was no longer about relationships in general but more about what I had to learn about myself to make sure this relationship worked,” says Bozic.
“It was not what I had set out to do… I thought originally that I was going to make a cheerful film that would speak to women in general… I think it still talks to a lot of women but it goes a lot deeper.”
Mixing home movies from her childhood with old videos and new interviews featuring former boyfriends, Bozic sets off on a quest to discover where she went wrong.
Along the way, she gets drunk with her first love Pavel in Russia and has an emotional meeting with his wife, who he left Tatjana for; interviews the ex-wife of a man who was cheating on her with Tatjana and also grills a British boyfriend who agrees to participate as long as they do not discuss why and how they broke up because the process so painful.
“It’s still quite funny but it’s an emotional roller coaster in which I go up and down,” Bozic.
She is now developing a follow-on film to her award-winning 1994 documentary Provincial Girls, about three young women who head to Moscow to make a new life. Bozic and co-director Frank Mueller (another ex who also features in Happily Ever After) have tracked down the women some 20 years later to see how they fared.
And in the backdrop, is Bozic still with Rogier? “You’ll have to see the film,” replies with Bozic with a laugh.