[reconstructed from a lost post, originally created 9-12]
Bosnia-Herzegovina and the surrounding area (“the Balkans”) is quickly becoming one of my favorite regions for film subject matter, along with the diaspora of Turkey-Germany. This is the second film I’ve posted about (although the first one I saw, the other being The Whistleblower) regarding the region.
Academy Award winner Danis Tanovic (No Man’s Land) directs this brilliant, funny and sobering film about the recurring nature of history. It seems we are bound to repeat our mistakes, regardless. The revolving wheel of life. Here, the carousel. The carousel can be cruel, tragic and appealingly nostalgic all at the same time.
Fearing reprisals from the communists, Divko had fled to Germany some years before, when he rolls into town, a new sexy young woman on his arm, and a shiny Mercedes. With revenge on his mind and scores to settle, he promptly has his wife and son (who had stayed behind) evicted and moves back in to his ancestral home. Complicit in this is the new mayor, an old friend. There is nothing money can’t buyin the new Bopsnia-Hezegovina.
Things take a turn (as happens with unsettled histories) and things change again. This time, his wife and son flee to Germany – along with…well, you’ll need to find that out for yourself. His only friend left is his good luck charm, a black cat by the name of Bonny.
The film is masterfully told, with understanding and a tolerance for the foibles of man. The ending scene is incredibly beautiful and may just be the image I come away from the festival with.
The Director was such a likeable guy, joking with the audience and telling stories on himself. He’s one of those director’s (and there are many here at Toronto) that give a sense that this one of their favorite stops on the festival circuit: a well run event, with hugely appreciative audiences. With the opening of the new TIFF Bell Lightbox theaters (on Sunday), this is a cinephiles heaven. On Wednesday, I’ll have my first screening at the new venues. The director commented on the humor in the film, and allowed that perhaps half of that got through. This was confirmed by me sitting beside a Bosnian couple who laughed more than I did (and I laughed or smiled a lot).
But the highlight of the Q&A was when one of the audience members asked the stock question: “How did you become a film director?” Tanovic offered up this anecdote: He really wanted to be a musician (he writes all the music for his films), but as a youngster he had applied for a position in a band and never heard back. So he changed course. One time in conversation with his mother, reminiscing about that seminal event, she told him that they actually had returned his call, but that she had told them he wasn’t interested. She thought he’d be better off in some other line of work. But that’s life, or fate, huh?