Pera Film is greeting 2017 with the program Destination: Balkans. Presented parallel to Pera Museum’s on-going exhibition Cold Front from the Balkans the program offers a different perspective into the region. The selection explores the various cinematic road journeys to or through the Balkans.
The Destination: Balkans’ selection predominantly includes Western European and American productions that discover this region through an outside eye. Welcome to Sarajevo and Harrison’s Flowers looks at two different wars on the same land through the eyes of journalists, while Twice Born and In the Land of Blood and Honey dives into the loves and families of those who are war-torn. Some of the films focus on the aftermath of the war: A young man is sent to Bucharest by his mother’s ghost in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman; two young Italians are united in Romania because of the economic crisis in Banat (The Journey) and a king tries to save his kingdom in the mockumentary King of the Belgians. The Balkan made productions include: Bosnian director Danis Tanovic’s story of a Bosnian man returning home from exile in Cirkus Columbia; Bulgarian director Kamen Kalev focuses on an attacked Turkish family on the road and two Bulgarian brothers in his first feature film Eastern Plays.
Destination: Balkans brings hope, peace, and humor from the roads of the land of war and love through the countries of Romania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Serbia.
King of the Belgians | Peter Brosens & Jessica Woodworth, 2016
Road films usually dwell on the self-discovery stories of characters who have been lost or underdogs all their lives. But King of the Belgians is a bit different… Our protagonist, who is lost in the Balkans is His-Majesty the King of Belgium! King Nicholas III is informed that Wallonia has declared independence during his official visit to Istanbul and he is determined to go back to his country and save his kingdom. He has a lot to confront though; a solar storm, idle devices and crazy people he meets on the road. Presented as a mockumentary, this great comedy is directed by the creative duo behind The Fifth Season, Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth.
Banat (The Journey) | Adriano Valerio, 2015
Ivo’s journey is neither triggered by his passion for traveling nor his desire for self-discovery… He is just one of the young victims of the economical crisis in contemporary Europe. He feels he will not be able to resist further and decides to leave Italy for the fertile region of Banat in Romania. Clara, on the other hand, is a harbor worker who is at the end of a long relationship. Their paths cross when she rents the apartment Ivo is leaving. That night becomes a turning point for both. As Clara decides to go after him to Romania she loses her job. Adriano Valerio’s first feature film explores the love that resists the foreign land and the economic struggle.
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman | Fredrik Bond, 2013
An ordinary young man from Chicago, Charlie Countryman is being chased by drug dealers in Romanian streets. If you ask why, he was told by his recently deceased mother’s ghost to go to Bucharest to live the time of his life. And no, (unlike the question mark raised by many) not Budapest; but Bucharest. Shia LaBeouf stars as Charlie Countryman who falls for Gabi in this absurd journey. Gabi’s ex is a dangerous man and Charlie finds himself in trouble. With Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen and many other well-known performers in the cast, this film is Bond’s first feature.
Twice Born | Sergio Castellitto, 2012
After sixteen years, Gemma and her son return to the city they escaped during the war, to Sarajevo. Their journey brings Gemma’s painful and mournful memories back and reveals the truth about the roots and past of Pietro. Gemma has lost Diego, her deepest love and the father of her child, during the war. Penélope Cruz and Emile Hirsch star in Italian director Sergio Castellitto’s film. Turkish actress Saadet Aksoy also stars with a breakthrough performance. The film is based on a mother’s journey in the need of revealing the truth about the past to her son.
In the Land of Blod and Honey | Angelina Jolie, 2011
Travelling to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2000’s as a U.N. goodwill ambassador and affected by these visits, world-famous actress Angelina Jolie tells a wartime love story in her first feature film In the Land of Blood and Honey. Muslim painter Ajla and Serbian police officer Danijel’s love is defeated to war; first they are separated after the Bosnian War, then they meet again. But this time, Ajla is a captive in a Serbian camp and Danijel is among the Serbian militia. Screenplay of the film is also written by Angelina Jolie, with the advisory of former American diplomats that served during the Bosnian war. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.
Cirkus Columbia | Danis Tanovic, 2010
Early 90’s… With the breakup of Yugoslavia, the end of the communist regime and a democratic government, a new era had just begun in the Balkans. This change and transformation brings an end to Divko Buntic’s years in exile. Divko has a young wife, a cat, a Mercedes and plenty of money. He decides to return home, to a small village in southern Herzegovina; not only to celebrate the happy days but also for revenge. Unfortunately, the never ending disturbance in the Balkans brings back the war. Cirkus Columbia is directed by Danis Tanovic, the director of the Academy Award winner Bosnian film No Man’s Land (2001).
Eastern Plays | Kamen Kalev, 2009
On the road to Germany, a family from Istanbul stops in Sofia to spend the night. Unfortunately, their peaceful dinner is interrupted by the most horrible way with a racist attack of a neo-Nazi gang. Eastern Plays tell the story of two Bulgarian brothers: Itso, an artist and a struggling addict who intervenes the attack and saves the Turkish family, and Georgi, a high school student who is a member of the neo-Nazi gang. The attack triggers Itso to discover his feelings towards the family’s daughter Işıl and helps Georgi to question his choices in life. Kamen Kalev says he was inspired by the life of Christo ‘Itso’ Christov, who plays Itso in the film.
Harrison’s Flowers | Élie Chouraqui, 2000
Photojournalist Harrison Lloyd, travels to the war-torn Yugoslavia for a last assignment and is announced ‘probably-dead’ after a building collapses, causing his family nothing but devastation. His wife Sarah though, also being a journalist, is determined not to accept the news. She decides to go to Yugoslavia, looking after him. Vukovar, where Harrison is said to have died, is unfortunately right in the middle of the war and chaos. Meanwhile, Harrison’s son Cesar looks after his father’s prized greenhouse, trying to keep the flowers and his own hopes alive. Harrison’s Flowers was adapted from Isabel Ellsen’s novel with a cast of celebrities.
Welcome to Sarajevo | Michael Winterbottom, 1997
Michael Winterbottom’s Welcome to Sarajevo is based on the true story of the British war-reporter Michael Nicholson. Michael’s life changes after he and the American reporter Flynn make a report on an orphanage full of kids trying to survive near the front line in Sarajevo. Henderson chooses to get involved in these kids’ lives at the expense of risking his career and breaking the law. A dangerous journey of a war-reporter evolves into a hopeful journey of a child. Being filmed on location only a few months after the siege had ended and with the use of actual news footage, the film provokes a true sense of authenticity.