- Goran Stolevksi told Insider that he wrote the first draft of “You Won’t Be Alone” in just five days.
- “I had to write a story really quickly in two different languages,” the director said.
- “You Won’t Be Alone” takes place in 19th century Macedonia, and follows a young girl turned into a witch.
Goran Stolevski’s latest film “You Won’t Be Alone” is an emotionally complex, nuanced thriller set in a rural mountain village in 19th century Macedonia — but the filmmaker told Insider in a recent interview that he wrote the first draft of the script in just five days.
“There was a Macedonian story workshop announced and I’m from Macedonia. And I thought I’d write something to submit to that, just use that as a deadline,” Stolevski explained. “It was like five days away, the deadline at the time. I had to write a story really quickly in two different languages.”
The film focuses on Nevena, a severely isolated, nonverbal young woman who’s turned into a witch by an old crone named Maria. As Nevena spends time in other villages and begins to learn more about the outside world, she begins to shapeshift.
According to Stolevski, part of the story was inspired by the ancient idea that a witch could easily take the shape of another human being or animal.
“I thought, ‘What an amazing way to look at life, if you can actually live life in different bodies, there’s different creatures,'” the director continued. “I had a great idea of the inner voice of [Nevena]. It came to me in a few sentences, so I kind of spliced them all together and wrote something in three days.”
Stolevksi said that even though he originally wrote the script just to have something to contribute to the workshop, the idea ultimately “worked out.”
The Macedonian filmmaker also opened up about his other sources of inspiration for the film, which is currently in theaters.
“I grew up obsessed with the phenomenon of wild children — children who are kind of raised in the wild, or grew up away from humanity,” Stolevksi explained.
He told Insider that Nevena experiencing trauma at a very young age, in addition to her being severely isolated from other people, was what led her to remain nonverbal throughout the duration of the film, even as she inhabits the bodies of victims who were previously able to speak.
“If you grow up in isolation… there is a part of that experience that stays and then shapes you forever,” Stolevksi said. “For me, that was the way language worked for her. She still could n’t speak even as an adult, several bodies later. And her inner thoughts of her, they evolve over time as her consciousness evolves, but they can only speak in a particular way.”
Nevena’s isolation is evident in her voiceovers, which feature disjointed, odd phrasing — a choice that Stovlevski said was made partly due to the character’s history, and partly due to the fact that he wrote much of the film in Macedonian, which has a different syntax than English.
And while Maria and Nevena are both women, the filmmaker told Insider that he had no trouble writing for female characters.
“I think a lot of my brain is female, if we’re gonna break it down to just a binary,” Stovlevksi said. “Those two women are me split into two people. It’s my brain and my understanding of the world, split into two people.”
“You Won’t Be Alone” stars Noomi Rapace, and is currently playing in theaters. You can watch the trailer below.