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BERLINALE 2008 Panorama

Love, crimes and disappearing acts


Stefan Arsenijevic’s debut feature Love & Other Crimes [+see also:
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screened yesterday evening in the Panorama section, marking the young Serbian director’s fourth time at the Berlinale.

It was, according to him, destiny that his career should begin with a Golden Bear in 2003 for the Oscar-nominated short (A)Torsion, before he returned to present the collective film Lost and Found in 2005 and the film project Love... the following year at the Co-production Market.

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His new film is structured according to the law of three unities: the story unfolds over one day, in one place – the grey, concrete landscape of New Belgrade – and soberly yet lyrically recounts the unspoken farewells of Anica (played by Anica Dobra) to the people she loves, as that very evening she takes some money from her partner’s safe with the intention of disappearing forever.

This is not an easy decision for her to take. On the one hand, she is surrounded by an increasingly squalid reality whose suffocating nature is emphasised by the impressive wide-angle shots of the harsh architecture/ On the other, there are the people around her, whose faces and expressions appear in close-up, and the viewer wonders whether the love and affection of these individuals will encourage Anica to stay after all.

At the press conference, Arsenijevic explained that the film has both a personal dimension (he grew up in the area and takes his inspiration from a true story) and socio-political significance: over the past ten years, hundreds of thousands of Serbians, especially young people, have emigrated.

The leap into the unknown that Anica is about to take - echoed by two scenes in which characters appear on the edge of a roof, ready to jump - Stanislav (Vuk Kostic), in love with Anica since he was a kid, is not quite ready to take it, for he has other, magical, ways of putting colours into this decaying world.

In Love & Other Crimes, the characters live for moments of escapism when they eat oranges, watch a parrot take flight while the television shows Spanish soap operas and the song "besame mucho... como se fuera la ultima vez" (“Kiss me…as if it were the last time”) plays continuously. People also disappear by magic, it seems.

Love & Other Crimes is as European co-production, between Germany (Coin Film), Serbia (Art & Popcorn), Slovenia (Studio Arkadena) and Austria (Amour fou). Sales are being handled by German’s The Match Factory.

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(Translated from French)

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