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"The film had to be touching, warm, gracious, tragic, and funny"

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Milos Radović • Director


- Cineuropa sat down with Serbian writer-director Milos Radović to discuss his third feature film, Train Driver’s Diary, which is currently screening at the Warsaw Film Festival

Milos Radović • Director
Milos Radović, on the set of Train Driver's Diary

Serbian writer-director Milos Radović spoke to Cineuropa about his third feature film, Train Driver's Diary [+see also:
film review
interview: Milos Radović
film profile
, which is currently screening at the Warsaw Film Festival in the Free Spirit Competition. It is also Serbia's submission for the Oscar for Best Foreign-language Film.

Cineuropa: It has been 12 years since your second feature film, Falling into Paradise [+see also:
film profile
. What was stopping you from making another one for so long?
Milos Radović:
Nothing was stopping me, but nothing was encouraging me, either. Cinema is not my only occupation, I write for theatre and TV, and I direct commercials, and I enjoy all of these jobs equally. Film is not my only love, nor the greatest one. I only decide to make a film when I really feel that something good can result from the idea. I am often wrong, but that's exactly why I have these "spare" professions.

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How did you develop Marko Glušac’s (film editor who passed away in 2012, best known for Circles [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Nikola Rakocevic
interview: Srdan Golubovic
festival scope
film profile
) idea and how did you decide on the tone of the film?
Marko came to me with a piece of paper. It was a half-page story about the life of train drivers. It seemed kind of dry, but also exciting and surprising. It was attractive, but dangerous. The subject matter could have been made into a tragedy, but also into a tragi-comedy. I was struggling with it, I did not know how to approach it, or in which tone to tell the story. It took more than two years to decide! I was thinking about it, I talked a lot with [producer and actor] Lazar Ristovski, but I couldn’t find a way to write anything up. Eventually I made a choice: I decided the film had to be touching, warm, gracious, tragic, and funny –all that in one movie! It's tricky, risky, improbable… dangerous. In the end, it seems like the audiences liked it.

While the role Lazar Ristovski plays is tailor-made for him, the roles of Jasna Djuričić and Mirjana Karanović are very much against their usual type. Non-professional Petar Korać is very good, too. How did you pick the actors?
The production enabled me to get the actors I wanted. It’s not something that is so easy these days; actors are too occupied, even in Serbia. But our film was an "offer one can’t refuse". Karanović and Djuričićc are strong, powerful, character drama actresses. Only actresses so strong can be that emotional, and this was crucial for our film. Also, they had to be equal partners to another very powerful actor in Lazar. And the three of them were a great backdrop for the wonderful, kind, angelic person that is Petar Korać. I was mesmerised by this young man, who looks like a 19th-century Russian poet, and I believed these powerful actors would be able to support him and provide him with the right directions.

Why do you think such a strong local film like this one is not doing better in Serbian cinemas, where audiences always claim they like Serbian films best?
Serbian cinema has let down Serbian audiences. This happened 15-20 years ago, when we started making, so-called, "audience-oriented movies". Makers of those films humiliated the viewers with cheap, stupid comedies. They abused the confidence that Serbian audiences had in local cinema. Bad guys among us brought us to this situation, in which audiences leave cinemas when they screen Serbian films. It was at the same time that the old cinema network collapsed.

Long ago, in the 1970s, my father [cult Serbian author and satyrist Dusan Radovic] said, "they say Serbian films spoil children. Yes, but only those who make them." Of course, there are exceptions, every three or four years a movie comes along that the audiences love. But there are fewer and fewer films audiences believe in.

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