Mercy (2016)
6.9 on the Richter Scale (2016)
Sleeping Beauty (2016)
Callback (2016)
Sámi Blood (2016)
Raw (2016)
Lady Macbeth (2016)
previous
next
Choose your language en | es | fr | it

SARAJEVO 2015 Avant Premieres

email print share on facebook share on twitter share on google+

Next to Me: A socially engaged arthouse crowd-pleaser?

by 

- Audiences will decide whether Serbian director Stevan Filipović has managed to pull off his paradoxical mix of approaches

Next to Me: A socially engaged arthouse crowd-pleaser?

In the international competition at this year's Pula Film Festival, one film unexpectedly broke out and won the main prize, beating titles such as Dheepan [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
Q&A: Jacques Audiard
film profile
]
, The Lobster [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
Q&A: Yorgos Lanthimos
film profile
]
, Parabellum [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Lukas Valenta Rinner
film profile
]
and Koza [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Ivan Ostrochovský
film profile
]
. The movie in question is Serbian writer-director-editor Stevan Filipović's Next to Me [+see also:
trailer
interview: Stevan Filipović
film profile
]
,which had its world premiere at Pula. Now it has screened in the Sarajevo Film Festival's non-competitive Avant Premieres section, designed to present upcoming regional audience-orientated films.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Next to Me is set in a Belgrade high school, where teacher Olja (Hristina Popović, from Circles [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Nikola Rakocevic
interview: Srdan Golubovic
festival scope
film profile
]
and The Parade [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
) is trying to raise interest in important social issues amongst a bunch of alienated and frustrated kids, and steer them in the direction of liberal, left-leaning values.

Olja’s husband, Uglješa (Dragan Mićanović, known internationally for roles in Coriolanus [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, RocknRolla [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Layer Cake [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
), is a painter whose latest controversial work caused an uproar in the predominantly right-wing, nationalist Serbian society. Four of the schoolchildren attack Olja and splash her with a bucket of red paint – they consider her and her husband "commies".

The next day, at Saturday school, Olja catches two boys watching the video of the attack on YouTube and tries to force the class to reveal the culprits. When she hits a wall of protest, she takes all their mobile phones, locks them in the school and leaves.

This is where the story really starts. Left alone in the school, the kids from the class will display all their best and worst traits. Filipović has created a gallery of characters typical of Serbian youth, but also in possession of characteristics common to all teenagers: a four-strong company of bad boys (including a drug dealer), three geeks, a gold-digger/fashion blogger from the suburbs and her cohorts, a Goth girl, two nerds (apparently a good boy and a girl with right-wing leanings – in this way, Filipović tries to show that the biggest problem in Serbian society are not straight-out nationalists, but so-called "right-wing intellectuals") and homosexual boy Lazar (the absolute star of the film, Slaven Došlo, who also plays this year in the Cannes title Panama [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
,screening in Sarajevo competition), who opens up the previously latent homosexuality in the class jock. This scene, which basically closes the film before the tension-releasing epilogue, is also its finest and most powerful.

The cast is populated mostly with very young actors, although none of them is really high-school age. While a couple of them certainly look too old for their roles, this is not Laurent Cantet's The Class [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Carole Scotta
interview: Laurent Cantet
film profile
]
or Rok Biček's Class Enemy [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Rok Biček
interview: Rok Bicek
interview: Rok Bicek
festival scope
film profile
]
– the narrative mechanism definitely requires actors as opposed to non-professionals. And although some of the characters are not developed much further than the described types, the ones that move the story forward feel like real, three-dimensional teenagers with very personal qualities, quirks and issues.

Although it is definitely an audience-friendly film, Next to Me has a strong social and political message, and a clearly defined style. Its dynamics and dialogues feel natural most of the time, while the atmosphere and the bleached colour palette give it a distinct arthouse feel.

Filipović's third film, after the horror-fantasy Sheitan's Warrior and skinhead flick Skinning, is his most satisfying to date. It was produced by Hypnopolis, and will be released in Serbia on 23 September through Taramount Film. 

See also

courgette oscar shortlist
 

latest news

 

more news

Newsletter

Follow us on

facebook twitter rss

suspi_2016_web300x250