Bojana Novakovic talks about Burning Man

04 November, 2011 by Andre Fenby

Jonathan Teplitzky’s Burning Man may mark the beginning of a new phase in Bojana Novakovic’s acting career.

“This is the kind of film I’m drawn to,” says Novakovic, who plays Sarah in the drama. “I want to make these films forever.”


Novakovic is best known for starring in macabre international films in which her characters habitually meet gruesome ends. Last year, she played Mel Gibson’s daughter in Martin Campbell’s thriller, Edge of Darkness (which saw her nominated for an AFI nomination for best actress), as well as a victim in John Erick Dowdle’s claustrophobic horror film, Devil.

But for the Serbian-born actress, it was a refreshing change to be offered a role in an Australian film that suited her taste.

“This was an incredible experience, because I got to do a film that I want to do,” she says.

In Burning Man, Novakovic plays the wife of Tom (Matthew Goode), a grieving husband struggling to deal with the loss of his wife. The film privileges emotional energy rather than a linear plot, which required Novakovic to revamp her method of acting both on and off camera to deliver the “raw” intensity that Teplitzky demanded.

“Matthew doesn’t like to rehearse and I love it,” she jokes. “The three of us – me, Jonathan and Mathew – ended up having these sessions which were ultimately sort of bonding sessions.”

And, although Burning Man focuses on grief, according to Teplitzky, the film is as much about life as it is death.

“It was very much [about] wanting to do something creative,” said Teplitzky at a Q&A screening of Burning Man. “I always felt there was a lot about life that happened in an experience about death.”

Asked why casting directors tend to associate her with death, Novakovic laughs.

“Maybe it’s because [people] don’t want me to die,” she says. “My dad’s very concerned about that… I think he’ll be happy that in the next three films I do I do not die.”

One of those films casts her alongside Keanu Reeves in Mark Mann’s Generation Um (to be released next year), a film shot over five weeks about 24 hours in the life of a group of people living in New York. Novakovic says that the US film is similar to Burning Man, albeit with a more “nihilistic” edge.

But despite her footholds in the international film industry, Novakovic is frank about her preference for Australian films.

"If Australia had as much work, I wouldn’t go [to the US]… so when I was offered [Burning Man], it was a no-brainer”.

Burning Man will be released by Paramount Pictures Australia on November 17.

Bojana Novakovic