No One's Child, the wild boy from Sarajevo
by Camillo de Marco
- VENICE 2014: The debut film by Vuk Rsumovic tackles a universal topic, offering moments of rare beauty to which the diminutive main character contributes a great deal
The young main character in No One's Child [+see also:
film profile], the feature debut by the 39-year-old director from Belgrade Vuk Rsumovic, is a direct descendent of Truffaut’s The Wild Child. The 1970 film by the French maestro is set in the Aveyron forest in the 19th century, whereas the movie selected in the Critics’ Week at the Venice Film Festival begins among the Bosnian mountains in 1988: both films are based on real events, two out of the myriad episodes revolving around the discovery of wolf-children, who have been abandoned and have grown up among wild animals.
In No One's Child, the boy captured by hunters (Denis Muric) is given the Muslim name of Haris Pucurica, before being sent to the orphanage in Belgrade. Here, he is entrusted to a boy who ran away from home, Zika (Pavle Cemerikic, a kind of Serbian River Phoenix), who protects him from being bullied by the other occupants of the establishment and teaches him to speak, little by little. A friendship starts to blossom between the little wolf-child and the young rebel. The Berlin Wall falls, but nothing changes for these kids. Then, the war in the Balkans erupts, and the orphanage starts to fill up with young residents fleeing from the warzones, who hear songs extolling the virtues of oppressing Muslims. In 1992, the wolf-child is forced to return to Bosnia, because that is where he came from. But no one in authority is there to greet him, and Haris is recruited by a group of soldiers who are travelling towards the frontline. Having managed to escape the bullets and the mortar shells, the wolf-child feels the irresistible call of the forest...
Belonging is the keyword of the film. Torn away from his life in the wild, Haris shares a strong desire to be loved with his friend Zika, a desire to form part of a community. At the same time, all around them, the identity of an entire people is being smashed to smithereens, giving way to hatred. Nature and civilisation are starting to merge with one another. And Haris represents the millions of children who are left to their fate every day, all over the world. Although it suffers from a few simplistic elements, the film tackles a universal topic with a well-defined structure, offering moments of rare beauty and poetry to which the diminutive main character contributes a great deal.
(Translated from Italian)