The South-East European titles at Venice
by Paraskevi Karageorgu
- Among the selected films are the new movie by Serbian director Emir Kusturica and the feature debut by Croatian filmmaker Hana Jušić
At this year’s Venice Film Festival (31 August-10 September), one of the most eagerly awaited entries in competition is On the Milky Road [+see also:
film profile], the new film by Palme d’Or winner Emir Kusturica. Presented as an adventure-comedy, the film deals with the topics of war, forbidden love and memory, following a milkman during the war and the way his life is turned upside down when he falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious Italian woman. The feature, which has taken three years to complete, stars Kusturica in the lead, opposite Monica Bellucci and a regular in his films, iconic Serbian actor Predrag Manojlovic. On the Milky Road is a co-production between Serbia (Kusturica’s Rasta Films), the UK, the Unites States and Mexico, and is sold internationally by Wild Bunch.
One of the titles selected in the independent Venice Days section is Croatian filmmaker Hana Jušić’s debut feature, Quit Staring at My Plate [+see also:
interview: Hana Jušić
film profile], developed at the TorinoFilmLab as a project in the FrameWork programme. It follows Marijana (Mia Petričević) and her family, who live in a tiny apartment and drive each other crazy, and portrays the young woman's quest for freedom. The film was co-produced by Croatian outfit Kinorama with Denmark and is being sold internationally by New Europe Film Sales. Jušić has made several very successful short fiction and documentary films, including her short No Wolf Has a House, which screened at Rotterdam and was awarded Best Film at the London Short Film Festival in 2016. In 2013, she wrote the script for the feature film The Mysterious Boy, directed by Dražen Žarković.
A film with Bulgarian involvement, which reflects on the Balkan spirit, is part of the Official Selection in the Orizzonti programme. The King of the Belgians [+see also:
film profile] by Belgium's Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth follows the fictional Belgian monarch King Nicolas III on his undercover adventure through the Balkans. The film, starring Peter Van den Begin, Lucie Debay, Titus De Voogdt, Bruno Georgis, Valentin Ganev and Nina Nikolina, was shot almost entirely in Bulgaria, and the singers in the folklore ensemble participating in the film were selected from among the most famous Bulgarian choirs (The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, the Filip Kutev Ensemble and the Slavey Quartet). Bulgarian company Art Fest co-produced the film alongside Belgium and the Netherlands, and the international sales are handled by Be for Films.
Two shorts from the region are also part of Orizzonti: one is by young Slovenian director Sara Kern, entitled Good Luck, Orlo (Slovenia/Croatia/Austria), which explores the way a child deals with death and his observations of his parents’ grief; and the other is the Romanian-German production First Night by Andrei Tanase, a coming-of-age film featuring a brutal introduction to adulthood.