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VENICE 2009 Venice Days, Serbia / Albania

Paskaljevic returns with not-so-romantic Honeymoons

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Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic returns to Venice after his highly acclaimed The Powder Keg, which screened in the festival in 1999. This time, with the first-ever Albanian-Serbian co-production Honeymoons, selected in Venice Days.

Shot in two countries over two different moments, Honeymooonss Serbian and Albanian actors had never met until this morning, when most of the film’s cast was on hand to present the world premiere.

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The film follows two young couples over the course of the same day: the first emigrates from Albania to Italy, the second from Serbia to Hungary. Their difficulties begin when the reach their respective borders. The backdrop to both stories is a bombing in Kosovo, against UN peacekeeping forces. It will play a significant role in the main characters’ destinies as the so-called global war on terror has become synonymous with mistreating “undesirable” immigrants.

The director further looks at the aftermath of the Balkan War and the Hoxha dictatorship in Albania, and how the younger generations must still pay for the actions of their fathers. In particular, the subsequent economic instability after years of bloodshed and oppression that still drives people from their homelands for a better life abroad, where they are not always welcome. However, unlike The Powder Keg, the open ending in Honeymoons leaves some hope for a brighter future.

“The Balkans are still a powder keg,” said Paskaljevic at the film’s Q&A, “but I hope that will cease once Serbia enters the European Union.” When asked if he was really sure EU entry would be the solution, he countered: “Well, you’re in the EU, you tell me!”

He was also asked whether he had any problems with the police in any of the countries in which he shot, like the characters in his film. He did not, but, he said, “I must admit I don’t like the police anywhere, especially border police.”

When speaking of his experience on the film, Serbian actor Nebojsa Milovanovic (who appears in The Powder Keg and in Paskaljevic’s The Optimists of 2006), lightened things up. For his role as an aspiring cellist, he learned to play the instrument and said: “Orchestra musicians told me they study 20 years to play the Schumann piece I learned to play in one month. But I only learned three seconds of it. And I told them, the biggest difference is that I’m an actor, pretending to play the cello!”

Honeymoons was co-produced by Serbia’s Nova Film and Albania’s Ska-ndal Productions for €900,000. French company Nova Film International has already sold it to France (Eurozoom) and Spain (Wanda Vision), and is currently in negotiations for Italy as well. The film will next be seen in the Masters sidebar of the Toronto Film Festival.

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