Some Other Stories about some very real lives
by Vladan Petkovic
The omnibus Some Other Stories [+see also:
film profile] – co-produced by SEE Film Pro (Serbia), Studio Maj (Slovenia), 4 Film (Croatia), Dokument (Bosnia), Skopje Film Studio (Macedonia) and Ireland's Octagon Films and Dig Productions – comprises five stories directed by young women from five countries of the former Yugoslavia. The idea and concept comes from Belgrade-based producer Nenad Dukic, who served as executive producer on the project.
The film opens with Ivona Juka’s Croatian story. Marin (Goran Bogdan) and Sonja (Nera Stipcevic) are a young married couple expecting twins. He is a successful businessman and she, a painter with obvious mental problems, is haunted by her mother's death. It turns out that one of the twins is affected with Down’s Syndrome. While this dilemma would make an interesting plot in itself, Juka instead spends too much screen time on Sonja's inability to fit in with normal life. This story is the film's weakest, and it was a wise choice to get it over with first.
The second episode comes from Serbian director Ana Marija Rossi. Milena (Natasa Ninkovic), 30 years old and pregnant, wakes up in the emergency room on Christmas night after swallowing half a bottle of sedatives. In the next bed lies Djordje (Sergej Trifunovic), a criminal shot in the belly and leg. The actors’ performances give steam to the dynamic story with a surprising twist.
The middle segment, by Bosnia’s Ines Tanovic, has the greatest emotional impact. A former journalist (Emir Hadzihafizbegovic) and his wife live in a borrowed apartment with their son Haris (Fedja Stukan), who is in love with Heder (Nina Violic), a Dutch UN representative in Sarajevo. When Heder gets pregnant she hides it from Haris because she soon leaves Bosnia for her next post, in Afghanistan. Haris finds out, and Tanovic successfully avoids over-sentimentality in the resulting development. Stukan (Fuse [+see also:
film profile], Nafaka) gives his best performance to date and proves to be one of Bosnia's most powerful young actors.
The Macedonian story by Marija Dzidzeva is about Irena (Iva Zendelska), a drug addict about to give birth in the last stage of rehab. The manager of the public hospital she's in tries to persuade her to give the child up for adoption since she can't support it. Irena hangs out with Jane (Slavisha Kajevski), a young intern and the manager’s nephew. Meanwhile, a powerful politician brings his wife to give birth at the hospital, avoiding a better-equipped private clinic in an attempt to earn public support. Irena manages to achieve the best possible solution for her daughter. While simplest, this episode is far from weak and, just like the previous three, depicts life as it is in the director's country, probably more directly than the rest.
The Slovenian segment by Hanna Slak, the only director with a feature under her belt (Teah from 2007), does the same thing in a completely different way. Lena (Lucija Serbedzija) is a nun who gets thrown out of the convent when she become pregnant, and has to face real life in a country that has been part of the EU for ten years. Slak uses irony and symbolism to paints a picture of unfulfilled expectations and disillusionment. Ending the film on a lighter note, this story is technically the most polished, with cold colours and simple framing of shots with few objects and people.