5 items from 2013
Circles, Serbia's Submission for the Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. U.S. : None Yet . International Sales Agent: Memento Films International (Mfi)
The end is often only the beginning. As irrefutably definitive as death is, its occurrence fabricates a tangent in other people’s lives that forever alters their destiny. Those involved in the event, the survivors or perpetrators, are left behind to grapple with the grudges, conflicts, and uncertainties that were aroused from that single fateful moment. Unknowingly, the deceased becomes the absolute protagonist of the stories that go on long after the last breath. Masterfully elaborated Srdan Golubovic’s Circles concocts a plot that doesn’t ask what would have happened to these characters’ lives if the hero wouldn’t have carried out his benevolent deed, but instead delves into the long-term repercussions of such irreversible act.
Intertwining three different stories in locations distant from each other, the film opens in 1993 as Marko (Vuk Kostic), a soldier in the Bosnian war, is returning home for the weekend to the mostly Muslim populated town of Trebinje in Serbia. While hanging out with his old pal Nabobs (Nebojsa Glogovac) he sees a pack of fellow Serbian soldiers harassing the Muslim shopkeeper Haris (Leon Lucev). Peacefully trying to prevent this from happening, Marko is beaten to death. Over a decade later all of those affected by the incident find themselves still dealing with the consequences. His elderly father, Ranko (Aleksandar Bercek), spends his days rebuilding a church on top of a mountain in Bosnia Herzegovina. Unexpectedly, his ability to forgive is tested when confronted with teenager Bogdan (Nikola Rakocevic), the child of one of his son’s killers who wants to work for him.
Given a second chance, Haris, who is eternally grateful for Marko’s sacrifice, now married and with two daughters, resides in Germany and feels responsible for helping Nada (Hristina Popovic), his savior’s former fiancé. Falling into alcoholism to cope with the grief of losing Marko, she has made her fair share of terrible choices and has come to ask him for refuge as she is running away with her son trying to escape her abusive husband. Even more morally challenging is Nabobs' predicament. Living in Belgrade now, the practicing surgeon is faced with the news that he has to operate on Todor (Boris Isakovic), Marko’s prime killer and save his life even though the latter shows no remorse for the brutal murder.
Superbly layered, the narrative is intricate and deeply affecting. Each of the participants in this fragmented tale about the ramifications of a single instant is presented with a unique opportunity to find closure and to transform the seemingly irreparable hatred into redemptive kindness. It takes a more courageous heart to fight darkness with hope than to give in to senseless revenge. In order to mitigate the pain produced by Marko’s death, Ranko must allow himself to see Bogdan for who he is, and not render him as evil based on his father's cruelty. By the same token, Haris’ commitment to repay his debt pushes him to put himself at risk to protect someone else, just as Marko selflessly did for him simply because it is the correct thing to do. Similarly troubled, Nabobs searches for a minute trace of remorse in his enemy in order to save himself giving into his rage. Needless to say, the entire cast entrances the viewer with dazzling performances coming out of the innermost preoccupations and torturing emotions which their characters endure.
Like the ripples on water after hit by a stone, the entire story revolves around a man whose is on screen for minimal time, yet, his absence sets in motion powerful concentric waves. Furthermore, although the film contains heavy philosophical themes, it is grounded on visceral humanity and impulses which run the risk of eradicating rationality when something unjustifiable takes place. Shot with arresting and straight forward beauty, the backgrounds serve as canvases against which the flawed players struggle with their conscience. Nothing short of a masterpiece, Golubović’s latest effort Circles is a boldly poetic work of art about the healing power of reconciliation.
Read Sydney Levine's Interview with director Srdan Golubović during the Sundance Film Festival Here
Read more about all the 76 Best Foreign Language Film Submission for the 2014 Academy Awards »
- Carlos Aguilar
I had planned to see Circles (Serbia, directed by Srdan Golubovic) because my visits over the past 2 years to Romania, Poland, Lithuania and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sarajevo) have increased my interest in Central and Eastern Europe where the people are looking up (vs. in Western Europe where they are looking down). Now it has been submitted for the Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film and so I reprint my interview here which I did during Sundance earlier this year.
Sarajevo itself is especially remarkable as the only place in Europe where there has been a war since I was born. From 1991 to 1999 Serbia was involved in the Yugoslav Wars - the war in Slovenia, the war in Croatia, the war in Bosnia and the war in Kosovo. During this period, Slobodan Milošević was the authoritarian leader of Serbia, which was in turn part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This was was a war between people who spoke a common language but were split along religious lines, the Serbs being Eastern Orthodox and the Bosnians, Kosovians and Croations being Muslim.
The country known as Yugoslavia had been unified from 1918 to 1991-- first under a king as The Kingdom of Yugoslavia until 1941 and then as the Social Republic of Yugoslavia. Even as the Social Republic of Yugoslavia, it was a country more liberal then the other communist countries. It was a socialist republic open to west; its people could travel, the people had good jobs, it was more an example of socialism than of communism. Its geographical location was also at a true crossroad between east and west, formerly Ottomon and Muslim and at the same time very Eastern Orthodox and Catholic.
When the Ussr collapsed, Sarajevo, situated in the break-off nation Bosnia and Herzogovina was surrounded by Christian Serbs who bombarded the cities of the nation which they saw more as Muslim than as Christian in order to annex the land.
My dear Berlin friend, Geno Lechner from Berlin asked me to see it because she is in it. She plays the German wife of the protagonist. And my good friend Mickey Cottrell, of Inclusive PR is the publicist for Circles from the time it was in Sundance 2013's World Dramatic Competition and has also asked me to revise and repost what I wrote in Sundance.
So here it is:
Circles ripples out as a stone dropped in a placid lake, concentrically creating moral complexities for a group of people as their story strands emerge from one fateful moment.
Marco, a Serbian soldier on leave from the Serbo-Croatian War in 1993, returns to his Bosnian hometown. When three fellow soldiers accost Haris, a Muslim kiosk vendor, Marco intervenes, and it costs him his life.
Twelve years later, the war is over but the wounds remain open. Marco's father is rebuilding a church when the son of one of Marco's killers appears looking for work. Meanwhile, in Belgrade, Marco's friend Nabobs, a renowned surgeon, debates whether or not to operate on another of Marco's killers. And in Germany, Haris, now married with a family (Geno Lechner and her two daughters) strives to repay his debt to Marco's widow who arrives at his door seeking refuge.
John Nein, Sundance Senior Programmer says, "Srdan Golubovic's third feature employs a multifaceted, yet simple, structure that contemplates revenge, redemption, and reconciliation. Aware of how easily hatred and violence can create life-shattering ripples, he looks at the consequences of moral courage and asks whether a heroic act can generate ripples of another kind."
Circles was financed with funds from Serbia, Germany, France, Croatia, and Slovenia. Its international sales agent is Memento. Circles also screened in the Berlin Film Festival's Forum.
It is very important for the film’s director, Srdan Golubovic, that Circles receive wide distribution. It is based upon the true story of Srdjan Aleksic, a Serbian soldier who saved the life of his neighbor. When Golubovic read the story some years ago, he was against the war but on the sidelines watching, occasionally demonstrating against it, but not a part of it. He chose not to remake the story of the man then but to make it contemporary in order to close the book of his own private feelings about the war.
The man is universal in that he is saving a man, not "an enemy". The escaped man moved into a German world, which at the time looked very much like his own world, sparse, unattractively Soviet in style. However, he found his fortune there and created a life. The actor, Aleksandar Bercek, says that when he met the real Srdjan Aleksic, he said to him, "Now I am walking; it could have been different. I could have been lying down." You will see in a Google search that the memory of Srdjan is very much alive today. The real man's grave is visited yearly by the survivor he saved and by all the former Yugoslavians in the area of Serbia, Bosnia, Herzogovina, Croatia and Slovenia. He has received a posthumous medal of honor and has streets named after him in several cities.
This is one of the rare films which unites everybody; it is about forgiveness and reconciliation. And as such it deserves very wide distribution. And as a work of heroic art, it deserves to be seen by many people. We hope you will visit Memento during Berlin and place your orders. For those of you who are not distributors going to market to acquire films, we hope you will have a chance to see this film in your local theaters or homes.
Srdan Golubovic’s earlier film from 2007, The Trap, garnered great acclaim and was Serbia’s submission for an Academy Award nomination.
When director Srdan Golubovic and producer Jelena Mitrovic and I spoke during Sundance, they spoke of what a great surprise Sundance was to them. They found the people very warm. The audiences were totally open, very curious and emotionally connected. It is very rare for Srdan to find an audience that is not afraid to ask questions and eager to talk about the film. And, unlike at most film festivals, at Sundance, they saw the programmers every day and were always able to speak to them. As there were not too many films in competition — 12 in World Cinema section as opposed to 16 last year — the attention they received from the Sundance personnel and volunteers was very special.
Read the praise received by The Hollywood Reporter
Serbian with English subtitles, 2012, 112 minutes, color, Serbia/Germany/France/Croatia/Slovenia, World Dramatic Competiton at Sundance, Forum at the Berlinale
Cast and Credits
Director: Srdan Golubovic
Cinematographer: Alexsander Ilic
Production Designer: Goran Joksimovic
Composer: Mario Schneider
Sound Designer: Julij Zornik
Costume Designer: Ljiljana Petrovic
- Sydney Levine
Directed by Srdan Golubovic.
In the midst of the Bosnian war, Marko a Serbian soldier witnesses a brutal attack against Haris, a Muslim civilian, by three fellow soldiers. Marko interferes and saves Haris, but is beaten to death by the infuriated soldiers. Fifteen years later when the war is over, Marko’s father and best friend both encounter ethical dilemmas when one of Marko’s killers reappears in their lives.
One tragic event is still having lasting effects 12 years later in Srdan Golubovic’s Circles, a three-strand drama about the war in Bosnia. Though undeniably intriguing in its earlier scenes, as writers Melina Pota Koljevic and Srdjan Koljevic and director Golubovic drip-feed information, this well-acted drama is too predictable in its resolution to greatly distinguish itself. Amongst films about the after-effects of war, »
- Gary Collinson
Sundance Institute this evening announced the Jury, Audience, Next and other special awards of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at the feature film Awards Ceremony, hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Park City, Utah. An archived video of the ceremony in its entirety is available at Sundance.org/Festival.
Here's what John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, had to say about this year's festival. "
"The films at our Festival this year truly reflect the unbridled passion, immense talent and diverse stories coming from the independent filmmaking community. I am confident that the awards presented this evening will fuel those films with special promise and that audiences will continue to champion the films they have discovered here."
Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute, also released a statement.
"The lively dialogue and genuine excitement sparked by the films over the past 10 days is sure to resonate as they further reach »
Fruitvale became the first Sundance film to win the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic film since Precious in 2009. First-time director Ryan Coogler was inspired to write the film after 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed by Oakland transit police on New Year’s Day morning 2009. Fruitvale tells the story of Grant’s last 24 hours alive, as he attempts to become a better father, a better boyfriend, and a better son and friend. “It’s about human beings and how we treat each other,” said Coogler, “how we treat people that »
- Jeff Labrecque
5 items from 2013
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