Maja Milos’ Clip is Rotterdam’s first cause célèbre
by Boyd van Hoeij
30/01/2012 - The International Film Festival Rotterdam, which began on 25 January, has a reputation for edgy, avant-garde fare. But even by those standards, Clip, the debut feature of Serbian writer-director Maja Milos, caused something of stir when it screened for the Rotterdam audience.
The film explores the life of a 14-year-old Serbian girl, Jasna (Isidora Simijonovic), whose father is to be treated for a potentially fatal disease, but who only seems to worry about where the next alcohol- and drug-fuelled party will be, or when she will next be able to have sex with her sort-of-but-not-really boyfriend, Djole (Vukasin Jasni).
Djole and Jasna are in an abusive relationship in which he is the dominant force, keeps coming back to him like it’s just another drug that makes her forget. Even more disturbingly, she has a tendency to film everything —and everything really does mean everything— with her camera phone. It is almost as if her life would stop to exist if it wasn’t recorded for posterity in all its Brett Easton Ellis-like numbness-caused-by-excess.
The film contains quite a few sexually explicit scenes which, as an only partially comforting end-title explains, were filmed with body doubles (the integrated blurry camera-phone footage no-doubt helps conceal whenever a body double is used), since Simijonivic was only thirteen when filming on the feature began. Much to Milos’ credit, however, the first of these scenes comes a good while into the film, when viewers will already have established a connection with the characters.
Though the film’s central is undoubtedly Jasna, what drives home the greater point of the film is the girlfriend entourage she’s seen with: she is just one among the many Serbian girls in early adolescence without a clear moral compass, emulating sexy dancers on TV in not-there attire and completely lacking in any type of self-respect or pride. Though this is never explicitly linked to the war years that preceded their birth, it is obvious that a total moral vacuum exists for youngsters of Jasna’s generation.
Featuring a knock-out performance from Simijonivic, the film remains a niche item that's probably limited to select festival venues.
Part of the Tiger Competition, the film was produced by Film House Bas Celik, which is also distributing the film internationally.