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Jelena Mitrovic

Producers on the Move 2010 - Serbia

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Jelena Mitrovic

Serbian production company Bas Celik, run by producer Jelena Mitrovic, is behind some of the most popular and awarded films from the former Yugoslavia in the past ten years, including Srdan Golubovic’s The Trap [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Absolute Hundred, Damjan Kozole’s Slovenian Girl [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Srdjan Karanovic’s Besa [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Mladen Djordjevic’s The Life and Death of a Porno Gang, as well as the upcoming The Woman with a Broken Nose by Srdjan Koljevic. Mitrovic’s new project, Circles, to be directed by Golubovic, will take part in this year’s Cannes Film Festival L’Atelier.

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Cineuropa: What has changed in Serbian film production in the last ten years?
Jelena Mitrovic: Financing has changed. Serbian and other European films are primarily financed by national film funds and then regional and European funds. This means that it’s very hard to produce a serious and slightly more expensive film without foreign co-producers. Sponsors that used to invest in film are less and less interested in doing so. They get no tax rebates on film investments and TV is a much stronger and more important medium for their advertising.

Also, at one point, cinemas in Serbia had almost disappeared and local films that were always made for audiences lost their most important purpose. That’s why Serbian cinema has focused on auteur film and promotion at international festivals.

Co-productions have become a norm within the former Yugoslavia. What do you think is necessary for a film like that to achieve success in all of the co-producers’ countries?
As far as box office success in the former Yugoslavia is concerned, it’s necessary to have the authenticity and originality of a Serbian film, which is recognizable and liked in the whole region. It’s Serbian humour and famous actors that the audiences want. The former Yugoslavia is still a common cultural space and people laugh and cry in the same way and for the same reasons. As for European countries and international market, things are a bit different. It takes an original, strong and universal approach.

Why do you think that from the former Yugoslavia only Bosnian films have managed to achieve great success at top international festivals (No Man's Land [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Grbavica (Esma's Secret) [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Barbara Albert
interview: Jasmila Zbanic
film profile
]
, Snow [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
)?

I respect Bosnian cinema very much. The Bosnian films that won awards at top festivals had cinematic strength and authenticity and political topicality. But I don’t think there’s a definite recipe for success.

What are the plans for The Woman with a Broken Nose?
The Woman with a Broken Nose was invited to the East of the West Competition at Karlovy Vary. Our German sales agent Aktis Film will plan the film’s festival life with us. Theatrical distribution in Serbia is scheduled for September.

What stage is Circles in?
It’s currently in pre-production. We are co-producing with our German partner Alexander Ris, who also worked with us on The Trap. The film has been selected for this year’s Atelier in Cannes. It’s an excellent platform for promoting the film, as well as for meeting new potential co-producers, sales agents and distributors. If everything works out all right with financing, principal photography is set to start in October.

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