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Srdan Golubovic • Director

Does it make sense to be a hero?


- Serbian director Srdan Golubovic talks about his latest film Circles, based on the story of his personal hero, and possible consequences of his deeds.

Srdan Golubovic • Director

Cineuropa: What was it in the story of Srdjan Aleksic that inspired you to make Circles [+see also:
film review
interview: Nikola Rakocevic
interview: Srdan Golubovic
film profile

Srdan Golubovic: In 2007, when I first read the story about Srdjan Aleksic, a Serbian soldier who saved his neighbour, a Muslim civilian, from being beaten up by a group of Serbian soldiers, I realized it was one of the rare positive stories from the bloody wars in the region of the former Yugoslavia. I realized that his act is the sum of all the feelings I have in relation to that time in the nineties. He became my personal hero and my own view at humanness and courage. I wanted to make a film which would ask the question: does it make sense to be a hero, and is this self-sacrifice pointless?
Also, for me Circles are the end of my questioning of the time I used to live in, and like the characters of the film, a need to get out of the shadow of the time that has marked my life.

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How did you work on the idea with the screenwriters Srdjan and Melina Pota Koljevic?
My producer Jelena Mitrovic read the story about Aleksic on the internet. We were at the festival in Wiesbaden at the time with Srdjan and Melina. Jelena told us the story and we were all really shaken and moved by it. A lot of time passed between that conversation and the first outlines of the story. We realized we didn't want to make a film about this man and this incident, but to try and make a film about the consequences of this act, and if a heroic, humane act can make us do good things too and become better human beings.

What were the biggest obstacles in the production?
Shooting a film in Serbia is an obstacle by itself. The story is complex and the film was shot in three countries. Personally, the biggest private and professional challenge for me was the death of the editor and one of my closes friends Marko Glusac. Marko died only a couple of weeks after we locked the picture. It took me a long time to get back to working on Circles without it making me feel bitter and empty because of the loss of a friend. This film is dedicated to him, although he made it together with me.

You worked with most of the actors before, but the choice of Aleksandar Bercek was probably the wisest casting decision.
The character of Ranko is very complex but minimalistic. I knew that the person who was going to play it can't have a single reaction or move extra. I knew it had to be an actor with huge talent and experience, and strength and energy coming from within. When I put all this together, it was clear it had to be Bercek. We hadn't known each other and many people were telling me he was hard to work with. I've never been afraid of that, I always liked to work with that kind of actors. In the end it turned out that for me he was the easiest actor to work with.

In such a complicated co-production structure, with five countries involved, what is the biggest advantage, and what are the problems? Also, there is no Bosnian co-producer and a big part of the film was shot in Trebinje, in Bosnia.
Advantage of such a production is that it was the only way to get the money for the film, and the problem is that the fact that it is a co-production of five countries and that the condition to get the money is to spend it in those countries, which increased the budget to €2m. It was very important to have to strong co-production countries, Germany and France, as well as those from the region, Croatia and Slovenia, who are historically and culturally connected to the subject matter and the point of the film. The film did have a Bosnian partner, the company and producer Amra Baksic Camo, but unfortunately it did not pass at Bosnia's competition for minority co-productions.

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