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SARAJEVO 2015 Avant Premieres

Next to Me: ¿Un comprometido crowd-pleaser de autor?

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- En inglés: El público decidirá si el director serbio Stevan Filipović ha conseguido el éxito en su paradójica mezcla de puntos de vista

Next to Me: ¿Un comprometido crowd-pleaser de autor?

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

In the international competition at this year's Pula Film Festival, one film unexpectedly broke out and won the main prize, beating titles such as Dheepan [+lee también:
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Q&A: Jacques Audiard
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, The Lobster [+lee también:
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Q&A: Yorgos Lanthimos
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, Parabellum [+lee también:
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entrevista: Lukas Valenta Rinner
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and Koza [+lee también:
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entrevista: Ivan Ostrochovský
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. The movie in question is Serbian writer-director-editor Stevan Filipović's Next to Me [+lee también:
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entrevista: Stevan Filipović
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,which had its world premiere at Pula. Now it has screened in the Sarajevo Film Festival's non-competitive Avant Premieres section, designed to present upcoming regional audience-orientated films.

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Next to Me is set in a Belgrade high school, where teacher Olja (Hristina Popović, from Circles [+lee también:
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entrevista: Srdan Golubovic
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and The Parade [+lee también:
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) is trying to raise interest in important social issues amongst a bunch of alienated and frustrated kids, and steer them in the direction of liberal, left-leaning values.

Olja’s husband, Uglješa (Dragan Mićanović, known internationally for roles in Coriolanus [+lee también:
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, RocknRolla [+lee también:
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and Layer Cake [+lee también:
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), is a painter whose latest controversial work caused an uproar in the predominantly right-wing, nationalist Serbian society. Four of the schoolchildren attack Olja and splash her with a bucket of red paint – they consider her and her husband "commies".

The next day, at Saturday school, Olja catches two boys watching the video of the attack on YouTube and tries to force the class to reveal the culprits. When she hits a wall of protest, she takes all their mobile phones, locks them in the school and leaves.

This is where the story really starts. Left alone in the school, the kids from the class will display all their best and worst traits. Filipović has created a gallery of characters typical of Serbian youth, but also in possession of characteristics common to all teenagers: a four-strong company of bad boys (including a drug dealer), three geeks, a gold-digger/fashion blogger from the suburbs and her cohorts, a Goth girl, two nerds (apparently a good boy and a girl with right-wing leanings – in this way, Filipović tries to show that the biggest problem in Serbian society are not straight-out nationalists, but so-called "right-wing intellectuals") and homosexual boy Lazar (the absolute star of the film, Slaven Došlo, who also plays this year in the Cannes title Panama [+lee también:
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,screening in Sarajevo competition), who opens up the previously latent homosexuality in the class jock. This scene, which basically closes the film before the tension-releasing epilogue, is also its finest and most powerful.

The cast is populated mostly with very young actors, although none of them is really high-school age. While a couple of them certainly look too old for their roles, this is not Laurent Cantet's The Class [+lee también:
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entrevista: Carole Scotta
entrevista: Laurent Cantet
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or Rok Biček's Class Enemy [+lee también:
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entrevista: Rok Biček
entrevista: Rok Bicek
entrevista: Rok Bicek
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– the narrative mechanism definitely requires actors as opposed to non-professionals. And although some of the characters are not developed much further than the described types, the ones that move the story forward feel like real, three-dimensional teenagers with very personal qualities, quirks and issues.

Although it is definitely an audience-friendly film, Next to Me has a strong social and political message, and a clearly defined style. Its dynamics and dialogues feel natural most of the time, while the atmosphere and the bleached colour palette give it a distinct arthouse feel.

Filipović's third film, after the horror-fantasy Sheitan's Warrior and skinhead flick Skinning, is his most satisfying to date. It was produced by Hypnopolis, and will be released in Serbia on 23 September through Taramount Film. 

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(Traducción del inglés)

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