For Misplaced Nation, director Vladimir Perišić dug deep into a really private historical past. The movie, which premiered in Cannes Critics’ Week and can be screened on the Sarajevo Movie Pageant on Saturday, Aug. 12, follows a younger, Serbian teenager in Belgrade who will get caught up within the mass pupil protests in opposition to the authoritarian regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milošević.
The protests, which began in Belgrade in 1996 and unfold nationwide, have been in response to electoral fraud: Within the 1996 native elections, Milošević’s Socialist Social gathering of Serbia had misplaced a number of key cities however, Donald Trump-like, was refusing to just accept the outcomes.
“The protests lasted greater than three months, which I checked, makes them the longest pupil protest within the historical past of Europe, and had an actual carnival environment,” remembers Perišić, who was 19 on the time and received swept up within the spirit of civil disobedience. “It was much less about political discourse or any type of ideology than, carnival-like, about inverting the ability relations in society. For me, and for lots of people on the time, it triggered a type of inside revolution.”
Within the movie, the protests have the same impression on 15-year-old Stefan, performed by newcomer Jovan Ginic, who finds himself caught between the upheaval within the streets, and at college amid his anti-Milošević classmates and his loyalty to his household of staunch Milošević supporters. Stefan’s personal mom, Marklena, is the spokeswoman for the regime. She goes on tv each evening to unfold the federal government’s lies. Stefan overhears her speaking on the telephone, planning a police crackdown to violently suppress the demonstrations.
“My mom was additionally a part of the Milošević authorities, although she was within the tradition division, so not a spokeswoman,” says Perišić, “however I had this similar expertise as Stefan as a baby, rising up in a political house [and] experiencing this battle of double loyalty, between the loyalty you must your mother and father, and a loyalty to some type of inside ethical crucial. All of the politics of Serbian nationalism relies on household loyalty, this concept of belonging, by blood, to a bunch. It’s the idea of all right-wing politics, really. I used to be concerned about subverting that.”
To search out his Stefan, Perišić scoured the nation. “We met nearly 2,000 youngsters however I couldn’t discover the one. I used to be getting determined,” he remembers. Within the authentic script, Stefan, like Perišić, performed water polo, and the director determined to scout out a few of Belgrade’s water polo golf equipment.
“We got here to at least one membership, Crimson Star, and the coach known as over all the children, who got here to the sting of the pool, and it was actually stunning, they regarded like little fish,” says Perišić. “So I took out my telephone to take an image. All the children have been watching the coach aside from one. He was trying straight at me. I instructed my assistants: ‘Let’s name that child.’ It was Jovan.”
Perišić spent 9 months rehearing with the first-time actor earlier than the primary day of taking pictures. “It wasn’t actually a rehearsal. I didn’t let him learn the script. I used to be simply asking him questions, like ‘what do you do whenever you quarrel along with your mom?’ and filming that,” he says. “Once we got here to shoot, I filmed so as, chronologically, and handled the fabric as if I have been taking pictures a documentary. If the actors did one thing totally different from what was within the script that took issues in a special path, I’d change the script. That’s why I really like working with non-actors, it makes you humble. You uncover the story along with them.”
The documentary method prolonged to the areas and set design. Unable to afford interval costumes or units — “I didn’t have the funds to do a Visconti-style historic epic, and anyway I don’t very like these movies, there’s a museum/antiquity really feel to them” — Perišić as an alternative discovered Belgrade streets and flats unchanged for the reason that late 90s.
“That’s why I shot a lot within the backyards,” he says. “The neighborhood I shot in has modified quite a bit, however solely from the entrance. When you go to the backyards, it appears to be like precisely the identical. You’d assume you have been again in 1996.”
For Marklena, the political spokeswoman, Perišić selected the other of a first-timer, casting Jasna Durićić, the Serbian star greatest recognized for her function enjoying a Bosnian translator making an attempt to avoid wasting her household from the Srebrenica bloodbath in Jasmila Zbanic’s Oscar-nominated drama Quo Vadis, Aida?
“My concept with Jasna was that, as a politician, her character was performing on a regular basis,” says Perišić. “So even when this mom comes house, and is together with her son and her household, she’s nonetheless performing. However the documentary method was the identical. There’s a scene the place Stefan asks his mom if the federal government has stolen the elections. She says no. She’s mendacity. After which, she goes down on her knees in entrance of him. I by no means wrote that. It got here straight from Jasna. She’s a genius. Filming it, it felt like a documentary, like I used to be capturing an actual second.”
However watching Misplaced Nation in 2023 may be an unsettling expertise. With far-right nationalism on the rise throughout Europe, the movie feels much less like a file of the previous and nearer to final week’s information report.
“The story clearly has echoes of what’s taking place now, with these threats to democracy we’re seeing all over the place, not simply with Trump in the USA or with [Jair] Bolsonaro in Brazil, however within the rise of the right-wing throughout Europe,” says Perišić. “Within the Nineties, in ex-Yugoslavia, we actually noticed the return of historic fascism. I left Belgrade for France, and what I cherished about France on the time was there was an actual crimson line with the acute proper wing. Within the public discourse, amongst mainstream political events, and within the media on TV, far-right, fascism, was simply not acceptable. Little by little, that’s modified and these concepts have gotten mainstream once more. So my movie can also be a warning. These concepts aren’t useless and so they can come again — shortly and ferociously.”