by Vladan Petkovic
- Serbian producer Milan Stojanović broke out internationally with Barbarians, and is now preparing The Users, The Forbidden Aunt and Classroom Rascals
Serbian producer Milan Stojanović broke out internationally in 2014 with Ivan Ikić's Barbarians [+see also:
interview: Ivan Ikic
film profile], an uncompromising, hyper-realistic look at Serbia's youth. Besides producing through his company Sense Productions, he is also involved in Filmkultura, a project for the film education of children and young people, and is the programme director of Cinema City Film Festival in Novi Sad.
Cineuropa: Your production and catalogue slate features both challenging auteur films and audience-friendly titles. How do you balance the two interests, and how do you pick your projects?
Milan Stojanović: Just like other children- or family-targeted projects we're developing, I look at Classroom Rascals as part of my audience development and film literacy mission, which I think is crucial for the future of cinema in Serbia and Europe. There are two more projects in the early stages of development - How I Learned To Fly, now developed through Film Teep, and Ogres & Bogies, a TV series. Both are based on best-selling Serbian books for children, and even though they have an obvious commercial potential, and some of them are producer-driven, these projects all have a very strong artistic vision and the potential to influence young people.
On the other hand, auteur-driven film projects like The Users and Barbarians by Ikić or Furrows by Vladimir Tagić are why we fight to stay in the world of cinema at any cost - for passion to produce films that leave a mark on people, films that are milestones in cinema, culture or history in general.
So this is what attracts me to a project - auteur vision and the long-term impact I believe a film might have on the audience.
Please give us some details on your upcoming films.
I'm very happy and proud that The Users is part of this year's Cinefondation. The Residence has already given project some welcome publicity, as it will be challenging to bring the film to life. The Users is about a love triangle between teenagers at the Home for Children and Youth with Special Needs, and is based on documentary work Ivan did back in his student days. We will again work with non-professional actors, as we did on Barbarians.
Another interesting project is The Forbidden Aunt, a documentary now in post-production. It's the directorial debut by Bojana Novaković, a multi-talented actress mostly working in LA (The Edge of Darkness, Shameless), a highly stylized, dark family drama about her fascinating aunt and the restlessness of the women in the family. The film is being edited by Dragan von Petrović (Naked Island [+see also:
Family musical comedy Classroom Rascals by Slobodan Skerlić is now in full development and we have started receiving funding for the project - we received MEDIA support in 2015 and are now waiting for the results from the Serbian fund, so that we can move forward.
How do you see the current situation in Serbian production and distribution?
I think the situation is promising at the moment. The Film Centre Serbia's new director Boban Jevtić has shown agility and determination in his work, leading to regular funding sessions, a clear international relations policy, and the formation of a very functional MEDIA desk. The long-awaited eligibility of Serbia for the MEDIA programme is great news, and I expect that Creative Europe selection committees will soon be flooded with Serbian projects. With the low budgets that Serbian projects usually have, this support will be a new driving force for a better and more thorough development of projects in the future. Another potentially great piece of news is the cash rebate which was recently introduced.
What do you expect from Producers on the Move in Cannes?
First of all, I'm really grateful and proud to be part of this initiative and especially part of this group of amazing producers. These people have produced some of the best films in the past couple of years and I can't wait to meet them and share our views on the industry and cinema in general. I had a similar experience couple of years ago at EAVE Producers Workshop, and some of my fellow producers from that programme are joining me here as well - Janneke Doolaard (NL) and Anamaria Antoci (RO), so I'm really looking forward to expanding my professional network and forming new relationships.