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It goes where MARTYRS feared to tread. Undoubtedly one of, if not the most extreme horror movies ever made, A SERBIAN FILM—or, as it’s known in Belgrade, SRPSKI FILM—overshadows that Parisian shocker and kicks it to death for good measure. It throttles AMERICAN PSYCHO and spits in the eye of FACES OF DEATH. HOSTEL doesn’t even come close. It’s a film that leaves no stone unturned or takes prisoners—and we’ve got a bunch of exclusive photos and behind-the-scenes pics after the jump!
Think of A SERBIAN FILM (which we last covered here) as an extreme HEART OF DARKNESS with overtly political overtones, in which an ex-porn star—played with gusto by Srdjan Todorovic—degenerates in the underground sex ’n’ snuff racket. What is real and what is not? On one hand, A SERBIAN FILM is a twisted social comment, its fury directed at a confused motherland, though its allegory plays second fiddle to the horrors that unfold. On the other, it’s a shocker that wages war upon the genre with a scorched-earth policy. And with one unforgettably unpleasant scene—more about that in a moment—whatever your opinion, it will certainly continue to spark discussion and debate as it tears through the festival circuit (including a stop at Montreal’s Fantasia in July).
Directed by newcomer Srdjan Spasojevic and shot with the RED ONE hi-def camera, A SERBIAN FILM was his strike against the censorship and forces of authority that he believes are suffocating unorthodox creativity today. “It also specifically addresses the fascism of political correctness so prevalent these days—the tool that kills free cinema,” Spasojevic tells Fango. “This is the kind of film that couldn’t be made in an out-of-control fashion. Everything was precisely planned and extremely controlled. The only way we could make this film right was to make it without compromising or concern about consequences. Still, it pains me that this film could be banned in many countries.”
It’s certainly a film that fuels controversy, and despite being an accomplished work—in which most of the horror is suggested—it will be likely be the leading festival cause célèbre and whipping boy of 2010. It stomps wildly and confidently through cinema taboos, not knowing where and when to stop. It will definitely engage, thrill and infuriate audiences like never before, each crisp frame complemented by Sky Wikluh’s exhilarating techno score. “I know our story was leading us to the edge of the blade,” Spasojevic says. “We danced and balanced on it as best we could, and I believe we never really fell into the abyss. My main responsibilities were for the governing ideas to be hammered home, and that no one got hurt or experienced any psychological trauma on set in the process.”
In a movie that verges on hardcore pornography (the director is adamant that the deeds actually occurred on camera) and pulls no punches in terms of shock value, A SERBIAN FILM has understandably been a cause for concern. A number of ordinarily brave festival directors have been uncomfortable about showing the movie to female audiences, and some women who have seen the film have become visibly upset and agitated. And one scene involving a newborn baby has become a particular catalyst for fury and bewilderment. “It was never an intention to shock [with that moment], but only to express our deepest and most sincere feelings about how strongly we feel violated,” Spasojevic insists. “This baby represents us and everyone else whose innocence and youth have been stolen by those who are governing our lives for purposes unknown. In this scene, we only painted a literal metaphor of how we feel. This image is so extreme that it actually defames violence and nullifies it at its core.”
Nor did anyone involved in staging it suffer any psychological damage. “In a heavy effects scene such as this,” the director notes, “its sheer technicality kills all the trepidation and impact for the people participating in it. So it was much more exhausting than shocking on the set.” Clearly, they were and we are in good hands. Spasojevic’s inspirations include William Friedkin, Roman Polanski, Brian De Palma, Walter Hill, John Carpenter, Sam Peckinpah and David Cronenberg—A SERBIAN FILM echoes the narrative structure of VIDEODROME to strong effect—and his horror background clearly shows. But for many, his film will be a bitter pill to swallow, as he pushes the genre envelope to the breaking point. Claiming it’s a dream come true that A SERBIAN FILM is being championed by Fango (look for more coverage in the magazine’s pages), Spasojevic suggests that our readers should be prepared for his movie—but we’re still not entirely sure…
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