Serbia: new strengths of an old player
by Vladan Petkovic
- Media desk Serbia was finally launched in March 2016, and the long-gestating incentive scheme kick-started in April, with the first call for projects open until 30 September
Miloš Timotijevic in Humidity
(This article has been published in the Cannes 2016 Market News daily by Le Film Français)
The scheme has the form of a 20% cash rebate on qualified local spending, and there is no cap per project. The 2016 budget is €3.2 m, distributed on a “first come, first served” basis. Interesting specifics include eligibility of TV ads with a minimum of €100,000 spending. A rebate for post-production is also available, even if it is not executed in Serbia. Another very attractive feature is the quick investment return: the cash rebate can be received as early as 60 days following the audit and approval of the request. More details can be found on the website of the Serbia Film Commission, which developed and lobbied for the incentive, and more information can be found here. Another positive development is the return of official national film awards, for the first time since 2007. The Belgrade Victor awards are given out at Serbia’s biggest festival, the Belgrade FEST, which, after decades, transformed from a “festival of festivals” into a competitive event. Nikola Ljuca’s Humidity [+see also:
interview: Nikola Ljuca
film profile] was the big winner this year, bagging best film, best director and best actor for Miloš Timotijević.
As the institutional infrastructure of Serbian cinema is consolidating, the Film Centre Serbia (FCS) director Boban Jevtić says: “The priority for the upcoming period is to stabilize the production level and continuity of state funds, to strengthen our position in the region, to elevate education and international networking of young producers, and to secure legal framework with the aim to develop our national film industry.”
In 2015 Serbia produced 22 fiction feature films (2 less than in 2014), out of which 4 majority and 6 minority co-productions. The last public competition for minority co-productions funding finished in March 2016, and the FCS supported 10 feature-length projects from the 6 countries that Serbia most frequently works with: Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Romania.
Serbia used to be one of the rare European countries where domestic releases regularly overperformed Hollywood titles. This was true for almost any new local film until the old cinema infrastructure collapsed in the 2002-2004 period. Now, the only sure winners are films with a clear audience appeal, such as period sport films with a nationally affirmative message, or populistic comedies, usually supported by TV series – i.e. practically, brands. Obvious examples are the second instalment of football saga, See You in Montevideo (498,501 admissions in 2014) and basketball epic We Will Be the World Champions [+see also:
film profile] (214,994 admissions in 2015), while Montenegrin majority co-production Gorčilo (218,465 admissions in 2015) is a spin-off of a popular comedy TV series for the widest audiences.
Film Center Serbia is offering Subsidies for digitalisation
In such a climate, the 319,913 admissions sold for urban comedy Little Buddho, directed by first-timer Danilo Bećković, seems like an unexpected success. However, although its setting and style are decidedly modern, it leans heavily once again on Montenegrin mentality stereotypes, and shares co-writer Dimitrije Vojnov and star Miloš Biković with Montevideo. Thanks to these two megahits, the market share of local titles in 2014 reached 29%. In 2015, Gočilo and We Will Be the World Champions, plus mid-range sellers Next to Me [+see also:
interview: Stevan Filipović
film profile] and A Stinking Fairy Tale [+see also:
film profile], took the local admissions share to 22%, while Hollywood’s share jumped from 48% to 60%.
The theatre market is dominated by two multiplex chains. Cineplexx has 23 screens in 2 venues in Belgrade and 1 venue in Kragujevac, and will this year open another one with 5 screens in Niš. Cinestar entered the market in December 2015, opening two 4-screen venues in Pančevo and Zrenjanin, and is planning to open a 10-screen multiplex this summer in Novi Sad.
Many old single or 2-screen cinemas are still not equipped for digital projection. They therefore have to work only intermittently with the technology, using a mobile digital projector. But Film Center Serbia has issued a public call offering subsidies for digitalisation of these theatres, which should help stabilize the underscreened market.
On the international scene, 2016 started with actress Mirjana Karanović’s directorial debut A Good Wife [+see also:
film profile] premiering in Sundance’s competition. A month later, Humidity world-premiered in Berlinale’s Forum, as did Ognjen Glavonić’s documentary Depth Two [+see also:
In 2015, Pavle Vučković’s Panama [+see also:
film profile] had world-premiered in Cannes’ Special Screenings, while Stevan Filipović’s Next to Me triumphed in Pula Film Festival’s international competition. Goran Radovanović’s Enclave [+see also:
film profile] picked up 20 awards from around 30 festivals since its international premiere at Moscow.
As a minority co-producer, Serbia has had the most important success with Croatian films: the Cannes Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner The High Sun [+see also:
interview: Dalibor Matanic
interview: Tihana Lazovic
film profile] by Dalibor Matanić, Ivona Juka’s Karlovy Vary title You Carry Me [+see also:
interview: Ivona Juka
film profile], and Zrinko Ogresta’s 2016 Berlinale Panorama entry On the Other Side [+see also:
interview: Tihana Lazovic
interview: Zrinko Ogresta
TOP LOCAL FILMS 2015
We Will Be the World Champions (Bicemo prvaci sveta)
Director: Darko Bajić;Screenplay: Nebojša Romević, Gordan Mihić, Ognjen Sviličić;Director of photography: Milan Tvrdišić;Editor: Andrija Zafranović;Cast: Strahinja Blažić, Aleksandar Radojičić, Miloš Biković, Marko Janketić, Iva Babić, Sergej Trifunović;Production: Intermedia Network (Serbia), Kinorama (Croatia), Perfo Production (Slovenia); Distributor:Megacom Film; Admissions:214,994; Gross BO: €534,115 (RSD 66,214,691)
Next to Me (Pored mene)
Director: Stevan Filipović; Screenplay: Filipović, Milena Bogavac; Director Of Photography: Maja Radošević; Editor: Filipović; Cast: Hristina Popović, Mirjana Karanović, Dragan Mićanović, Slaven Došlo; Production: Hypnopolis Film; Distributor: Taramount Film; Admissions: 73,760; Gross bo: €193,254 (rsd 24,614,081)
A Stinking Fairytale(Smrdljiva Bajka)
Director, screenplay: Miroslav Momčilović; Director of photography: Aleksandar Ilić; Editor: Petar Jakonić; Cast: Žarko Laušević, Jelena Ðokić, Petar Božović, Bojan Žirović; Production: Brigada (Serbia), Film & Music Entertainment (UK), Audiovideo Orpheus (Bulgaria); Distributor: Art Vista; Admissions: 47,475; Gross BO: €125,073 (RSD 15,511,156)
Gorćilo(Jesi li to došao da me vidiš)
Director: Milan Karadžić; Screenplay: Miodrag Mijo Karadžić; Director of photography: Goran Volarević; Editor: Aref Zaabi; Cast: Mima Karadžić, Dubravka Drakić, Boro Stjepanović, Emir Ćatović, Mladen Nelević; Production: MM Production (Montenegro), Vision Team Doo (Serbia); Distributor: Art Vista; Admissions: 218,465; Gross BO: €591,345 (RSD 72,623,794)
TOP UPCOMING FILMS
The Samurai in Autumn (Jesen Samuraja)
Director: Danilo Bećković; Screenplay: Bećković, Dimitrije Vojnov; Director of photography: Bojana Andrić; Editor: Aleksandar Popović; Cast: Petar Strugar, Hristina Popović, Nikola Kojo, Sergej Trifunović, Katarina Žutić; Production: Mali Budo, Gargantua Films, Taramount Film (all Serbia)
The Samurai in Autumn is a film filled with laughter, tears, heartbreaks and martial arts. It is a story of a karate champion who falls from grace after being caught in a doping scandal. He returns to his birthplace, a small town in Serbia and finds redemption by falling in love with a single mother whose son is one of his karate class disciples. But, being unable to maintain his lifestyle, he secretly enters the underground MMA fighting circuit, thus risking to lose it all.
(Release date: October 2016)
Train Driver’s Diary (Dnevnik Mašinovodje)
Director, screenplay: Miloš Radović; Director of photography: Dušan Joksimović; Editor: Djordje Marković; Cast: Lazar Ristovski, Petar Korać, Mirjana Karanović, Mladen Nelević, Jasna Đuričić; Production: Zillion Film (Serbia), Interfilm (Croatia)
During his career, every train driver accidentally kills 20 to 30 people. Their victims are usually suicidal, careless, drunken, or just absent-minded people. A Train Driver’s Diary is a tragic comedy about innocent murderers and their lives.
(Release date: Autumn 2016)
All the Cities of the North [+see also:
interview: Dane Komljen
film profile] (Svi Severni Gradovi)
Director, screenplay: Dane Komljen; Director of photography: Ivan Marković; Editors: Komljen, Nataša Damnjanović; Cast: Boris Isaković, Boban Kaluer; Production: Dart Film (Serbia), SCCA/Pro.ba (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Code Blue (Montenegro)
It is winter by the seaside. Abandoned bungalows, lost donkeys, rotten fruit and a single room with a blue tent inside. Two men, Boris and Boban, drift through all this, in an undefined relationship. The persistent rhythm of their everyday routine is disturbed when a third man, Dane, the film’s director, settles into the same abandoned bungalow complex. With his arrival, the outside world and the making of the film itself come into view. Gestures are rehearsed and repeated. The film crew shares the space with Boban, Boris and Dane. And the film reaches a point where it could be made of anything…
(Release date: Summer 2016)