New Balkan hit Little Buddho set to conquer Croatia and Slovenia
by Vladan Petkovic
- The Serbian-Slovenian-Bosnian co-production will be released in Croatia and Slovenia on 30 October
Three years after Srdjan Dragojević’s The Parade [+see also:
film profile], the countries of the former Yugoslavia seem to have a new common hit: Serbian-Montenegrin director Danilo Bećković’s first feature film, Little Buddho, a co-production between Serbia's Gargantua Films and New Now Media, Slovenia's Perfo and Bosnia's Balkan Film, has already taken 282,000 admissions in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Macedonia over its five weeks of release, and opens in Croatia and Slovenia on 30 October.
The main character (whose name in the international title is a tip of the hat to Keanu Reeves’ role in Bertolucci's Little Buddha), played by Petar Strugar, is an 18-year-old student from Podgorica, whose rich surgeon father, while heavily drunk, operates on Budo's friend after a car accident, accidentally killing him. The boy’s father, Božo (Petar Božović), is a mob boss and demands revenge in the form of a blood feud, a phenomenon that is still quite common in Montenegro. So Budo gets sent to Belgrade, with the help of influential family friend Krsto (Tihomir Stanić, also the head of Balkan Film).
Once there, Budo is entrusted to Mišo (regional star Sergej Trifunović), a dirty cop who is not averse to blackmailing even his close friends. Things soon take a nasty turn for Budo, as Krsto starts backroom dealings with Božo; Mišo is also supposed to be in on it, but changes his mind and decides to help Budo instead of killing him.
This is a mentality-based comedy, based on the stereotype of Montenegrins living in and ruling Belgrade. In the former Yugoslavia, Montenegrins held some of the highest positions in state security, and after the country fell apart, organised crime clans from the territory fought turf wars with their Belgrade counterparts.
Bećković and his co-writer, Dimitrije Vojnov, have based the whole narrative and the characters on this trope, and when Budo arrives in Belgrade, he has a feeling that everybody living there is a Montenegrin – everybody he runs into speaks with the characteristic accent.
Vojnov was also the co-writer on See You in Montevideo, Serbia's Oscar submission this year and the sequel to the smash hit Montevideo, Taste of a Dream. The two films combined took over one million admissions in Serbia, and Little Buddho star Strugar broke out thanks to his roles in these releases.
Trifunović is one of the region’s biggest stars, and it is exactly the dynamics between him and Strugar as a pair of unlikely buddies that provide the momentum for the strongest comic elements of the film.
Like The Parade in 2011, Little Buddho is a typical Balkan crowd-pleaser, relying on the lowest common denominator – mentality stereotypes – but it does not underestimate the intelligence of its audience. Darkly humorous, fast-paced and brutally non-PC, it is sure to hit the right notes with Croatians who share the same language and who have a similar stereotype related to Herzegovinians in Zagreb. Slovenia might be a harder sell among younger audiences, however, due to the difference in language and lack of cultural references.