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SARAJEVO 2014 Out of competition

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Equals: omnibus on children’s rights from Serbia


- Sarajevo welcomes a project consisting of six short films by various directors that has its heart in the right place and key educational value

Equals: omnibus on children’s rights from Serbia

Among the three omnibus films screening out of competition at the 20th Sarajevo Film Festival, Equals by six Serbian directors stands out as a film dealing with important contemporary themes.

The film tackles the issue of children's rights in various ways and on different levels. Although a number of directors are involved, the script was created by one writer: Milica Petričić, known for We're Packing Monkeys Again, the first film to come out of Montenegro since its independence in 2006.

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The first short film, entitled Sofija and directed by Miloš Petričić, is probably the most accomplished artistically speaking. Sofija, the character played by Nela Mihailović is a school psychologist who is trying to help a little girl whose parents are divorced and whose father appears to be abusing her. In the final scene we discover that Sofija herself suffered a similar experience as a child.

In Dejan Karaklajić's Katarina we see a girl in a wheelchair waiting for a public bus with disabled access - not all buses in Belgrade are accessible for those suffering from disabilities. A woman selling groceries across the street, played by Mirjana Karanović, tries to help her but comes up against the selfishness and arrogance of passers-by, bus drivers and commuter passengers.

Saša by Mladen Djordjević (Life and Death of a Porn Gang) deals with an 18 year-old delinquent (Stefan Maričić) who, abused by his father, hits back and thinks he has killed him. He goes back to hide in the juvenile penitentiary with the help of friends and his tutor Noggin (Radoslav Milenković), but the police are hot on his trail.

In Milan, by producer and director Igor Stoimenov, a middle aged man in huge debt (Nebojša Glogovac) sets out to commit suicide, but the veil of his depression is lifted when he encounters an incredibly optimistic young Roma boy, wonderfully played by nine-year-old Nenad Jovanović, the real revelation of the film.

In Andjela by Darko Lungulov (Monument to Michael Jackson [+see also:
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), a local movie star (Sergej Trifunović) decides to use his Big Brother reality show fame to call on viewers to help fundraise for a little girl who needs a heart transplant. This is based on a real event involving Trifunović himself.

The final film Osman and Kristina by producer and director Ivica Vidanović (We Were World Champions) is about two Roma teenagers that are in love. Osman is an aspiring singer, and Kristina, who is one month pregnant with him, is about to be sold for an arranged marriage so that her father can pay back his gambling debts. This is probably the liveliest and at the same time the most touching film in the omnibus.

While like most similar projects Equals features films of varying quality, it does work as a whole and, most importantly, its heart is in the right place. It should definitely be screened on televisions around the region, and special screenings for schools would ensure that it fulfills its purpose.

The film was co-produced by Serbian companies Cinnamon Production and Absinthe Production, with support from the German Embassy in Belgrade.

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