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PALIĆ 2021

Milutin Petrovic • Regista di Impure Blood – Sin of Ancestors

“Ogni maschio alfa fallisce sotto il peso della propria paranoia”


- Il regista serbo ci parla del suo ultimo film, un adattamento di un classico della letteratura serba che segna un cambiamento di stile per il cineasta

Milutin Petrovic  • Regista di Impure Blood – Sin of Ancestors

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

Serbian director Milutin Petrović, known for his independent, low-budget films such as South by Southeast, featuring cult actress Sonja Savić, and The Loop, dedicated to the work of experimental filmmaker Ljubomir Šimunic, just had the world premiere of his erotic 19th-century western/melodrama Impure Blood – Sin of Ancestors [+leggi anche:
intervista: Milutin Petrovic
scheda film
at the European Film Festival Palić. He talked to Cineuropa about this stylistic shift in his professional path and shared insights about his script.

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Cineuropa: You are mostly associated with arthouse works. How come you decided to make this Balkan western?
Milutin Petrović:
I’ve always wanted to make genre movies. I'm an absolute fan of John Ford, Howard Hawks, John Huston etc. I love Hitchcock and Godard too. In other words, the gods of cinema who really dug into its essence. I also like classical storytelling with lots of emotions involved. It’s just that I did not have the opportunity to make this kind of film before. Serbia in the 1990s was a ruined country, devastated by the war, but I had the urge to work, so I made my feature debut Land of Truth, Love and Freedom with no budget. I did not achieve funding for my next project either, so I just started making films with what I had. Now the film industry people are surprised that I made Bad Blood, but others did not know me at all, so they will directly get to know my true side. However, I am also experienced in all kinds of formats such as TV sitcoms, videoclips and advertising, so I am used to working with big crews on commercial productions. 

Why did you choose to work on this particular story?
It all originates from my interest in our film history. One of its great figures is Vojislav Nanović and I knew that he had written a script based on Bora Stanković’s Impure Blood in the early 1970s. I started searching for it out of pure curiosity. Nanović was a partisan during World War II who later studied directing in Prague and London. Upon his return, he became a pioneer of social realism, however in the early 1960s, the new generation that would later form the Yugoslav Black Wave movement outcasted him as old-fashioned. Nanović was so offended that he emigrated to the United States where he successfully worked as an editor. He came back in the 1970s, already ill and forgotten, and he wrote this script that he never managed to film. Žika Pavlović started to work on it for national TV in the early 1980s but eventually the project was seized. Then Vojislav Nanović died and the script got lost. Thanks to an archivist lady, I found it a few years ago in an old film studio in Belgrade, on the top of a cupboard, all covered in dust. I did not have the intention to work on it but once I read it, I immediately recognised the western potential in the first scene in the church, where the Turks throw this ill dog there. And luckily, my producers were in the same line of thought as me. 

What are your expectations regarding the audience perception?
All I wanted to do was a good film that spectators would enjoy; to tell a story rather than impose my artistic vision. To be as close as possible to my personal film gods whom I mentioned above. Watching it now, I can classify it at the level of John Ford’s worst movies. And I am fine with that (laughing). My ambition is not to show Impure Blood – Sin of Ancestors at big festivals, I just hope for an audience that believes in the story and talks about the characters after the screening. I would be happy to have the film distributed in North Africa or the Middle East, for example, rather than in Europe. Looking at contemporary European cinema, suffocated by a highly bureaucratic funding system which mostly results in boring and fake films that lack energy, I can only laugh and I am not aiming to be a part of this anymore (laughing).

Hadzi Trifun, performed by beloved Serbian actor Dragan Bjelogrlić, is an authoritarian figure, but throughout the plot, he gradually loses control over his family. Could we say this is a metaphor for the end of patriarchy?
Every alpha player fails under the heavy load of his own paranoia and suspicions about the surrounding world, and I think this is particularly relevant in the East. He acts as the master of the family clan, he is capable of handling practical issues and he sacrifices people for the sake of his own ideas about what is right and wrong. But in the end he collapses, smashed by his consciousness about his own ugly deeds. Also, I believe that in the East we were not born to be leaders. Hadzi Trifun fails in his ambition to have everything under control. 

The female characters are even more interesting. On the surface they seem to be oppressed by patriarchal conservatism but under this apparent layer, they are actually free spirited. Especially Hadzi Trifun’s sister Tsona who is openly promiscuous.
I am so glad you understand it that way. It is actually a female movie and I was afraid it would not be noticed. Because under patriarchy, there is also matriarchy ruling, since the mothers are raising the children who are the future patriarchal males. I was inspired by Kurosawa’s films in which the complexity of male-female power relationships is very well expressed. And Tsona’s character is based on the real-life 19th century stories that Bora Stanković learned from his grandmother. She probably should be listed in the credits of Impure Blood – Sin of Ancestors, too.

And you are now preparing a TV series as well?
Yes, we are now working on a 10-episode TV version of Impure Blood – Sin of Ancestors for Radio Televizija Srbije (RTS). Basically, what we see in the film version will be more profoundly developed in the first three episodes and then the story continues further.

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