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VENICE 2010 Venice Days / Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tanovic elicits laughter and tears at the Cirkus

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Tanovic elicits laughter and tears at the Cirkus

Danis Tanovic returns to form and to his homeland in Cirkus Columbia [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Danis Tanovic
film profile
]
, slowly but deftly taking us by the hand in a story of love, war and a lucky black cat – with all the humanity and wit of his Oscar-winning No Man’s Land [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
.

In the spring of 1991, the macho, middle-aged Divko (Miki Manojlovic), an enemy of the former Communist regime, returns to his tiny village in Herzegovina – with a flashy young fiancé (Jelena Stupljanin) and fancy car in tow. He kicks his estranged wife Lucija (Mira Furlan) out of his family home and starts a strained relationship with the son (Boris Lev) he never knew.

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In the meantime, Croatia has seceded from Yugoslavia and Bosnia and Herzegovina will do the same, a fact that most of the film’s characters refuse to take seriously. Cirkus Columbia is based on the eponymous novella by Ivica Đikić, who with Tanovic wrote a script the director says is a far cry from the original story. Down to a new, “happy” ending that you don’t see coming, which is simultaneously hopeful and heartbreaking.

After the film’s official Venice Days screening, which was followed by a standing ovation, Tanovic said, “If Fellini were alive today, I think he would love this book,” referring above all to its almost burlesque comedy and exaggerated characters, which include a diehard Communist who still professes his love for Tito and the town’s current right-wing mayor, who is assembling the local militia. Yet as the story and characters set deeper and deeper roots, the only circus-like element is the impending, unstoppable war.

Although he often remains in the background, Manojlovic is the driving force of Cirkus Columbia. He is not unlike Divko’s beloved cat Bonny (his only true friend, he claims), waiting to spring to the depths he so effortlessly reaches. Furlan lives up to her (international) reputation, Lev is entirely winsome in his feature debut and Stupljanin is a surprise. She takes a hard roll – the frivolous trophy wife – and gives it unexpected freshness and depth.

The €3m Cirkus Columbia is a co-production between 2006 (Bosnia and Herzegovina), A.S.A.P. Films (France), Autonomous (UK), Studio Maj (Slovenia), Razor Film (Germany), Man’s Films Productions (Belgium) and Serbia, with the participation of Rai Cinema. It will be released in Bosnia and Herzegovina in mid-September by Obala Film Center; and in the rest of the EU co-production companies after December 1.

International sales are handled by The Match Factory.

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