Stiches / Šavovi directed by Miroslav Terzić, a coproduction between Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, was selected for the Panorama section of the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival, while the Serbian minority coproduction I Was at Home, But… / Ich Ware zuhause, aber… directed by Angela Schanalec got the best director award in the main competition programme of the 2019 Berlin IFF.
Serbian majority coproduction The Witch Hunters / Zlogonje directed by Raško Miljković took part in the official Kids Selection programme of the Sundance Film Festival.
Gordan Matić was appointed new director of Film Center Serbia in July 2019.
In February 2018, the cash rebate for film production had been increased from 20% to 25% and in 2019 it remained at the aforementioned level.
Fourteen Serbian films were shot in 2019, compared to eight in 2018: Darkling / Mrak directed by Dušan Milić and produced by Film Deluxe Int and This and That Productions in coproduction with Denmark’s Space Rocket Nation, Bulgaria’s RFF, Italy’s A Lab Debore Desio, Greece’s Graal; The Users / Korisnici directed by Ivan Ikić and produced by SENSE Production in coproduction with the Netherlands’ Kepler Film, Slovenia’s Tramal Films, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s SCCA/ Pro.ba, France’s Les Films d’Antoine; Heavens Above / Nebesa directed by Srđan Dragojević and produced by Delirium Film in coproduction with Croatia’s Studio DIM, North Macedonia’s Sektor Film, Slovenia’s Forum Ljubljana, Montenegro Max Film, Germany’s Ma.ja.de. Fiction GmbH; the Serbian/German/Bulgarian Living Man / Živi čovek directed by Oleg Novković and produced by Produkcija SALT in coproduction with Germany’s Ostlicht filmproduktion GmbH and Bulgaria’s The Chouchkov Brothers; The Celts / Kelti directed by Milica Tomović and produced by EED Production; Weekend with Pop / Vikend sa ćaletom directed by Miroslav Momčilović and produced by Brigada in coproduction with United Media; It’s Not So Bad to Be Human / Nije loše biti čovek directed by Dušan Kovačević and produced by Art & Popcorn in coproduction with Croatia’s Terminal 3; As Far As I Can Walk / Strahinja Banović directed by Stefan Arsenijević, produced by Art & Popcorn and coproduced by France’s Surprise Alley, Luxembourg’s Les Films Fauves, Bulgaria’s Chouchkov Brothers, Lithuania’s Artbox; Svetozar Miletić aka Fathers of Liberty / Očevi slobode directed by Darko Bajić and produced by Zillion Film with Košutnjak Film as the executive producer; Dara / Dara iz Jasenovca directed by Predrag Antonijević and produced by Dandelion production inc and Film danas; The Only Way Out / Jedini izlaz directed by Darko Nikolić and produced by Stanković & sinovi; The Key / Ključ directed by Marko Sopić and produced by Istar Studio; Don’t Bet on the Brits directed by Svetislav D. Pešić and produced by Een Rock Production; Tomorrow Is Still July / Sutra je još uvek juli directed by Dejan Nikt Vlaisavljević and produced by USA’s Remaining light / Les Films DV Nikt / Griffith’s Riders in coproduction with Montage.
According to estimations, 2020 will bring another slight increase in the number of domestic films completed and released.
In February 2018 Serbia increased its cash rebate for film production from 20% to 25% and kept this percentage throughout 2019. The cash rebate scheme, which was launched in April 2016, applies to qualified Serbian spend for feature films, TV series, animated films and visual effects, TV commercials and documentaries.
In 2019 Serbia attracted several international productions, including Crawl directed by Alexandre Aja, produced by Paramount Pictures and serviced by WIP Films; Minamata directed by Andrew Levitas, produced by Infinit Nihil and Metalwork Pictures, starring Johnny Depp and Bill Nighy, and serviced by WIP Films; the Russian/Serbian rom-com Hotel Belgrade directed by Konstantin Statskiy and produced by Black and White Production in coproduction with Archangel Studios; the entire second season of CW networks’ TV show The Outpost directed by various directors (including Serbian Dušan Lazarević and Milan Todorović) and serviced by Balkanic Media; four episodes of season 3 of the American TV show SEAL Team directed by Christopher Chulack, produced by CBS and serviced by Balkanic Media; Where the Sava Flows directed by Chen Danyan and serviced by Vision Team; Rocketry – The Nambi Effect (2019) directed by R. Madhavan, produced by Tricolour Films and serviced by Clockwork Film Production. All of these international projects shot in 2019 have applied for Serbia’s rebate scheme.
The Serbia Film Commission, designed to aid foreign productions shooting in Serbia, celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a gala ceremony held in the Belgrade City Hall in November 2019.
The newly founded Belgrade-based production company Firefly is about to start the construction of Firefly Studios outside Belgrade, housing 2,000 square metres sound stages and a smaller 800 square metre studio with a water tank, as well as four hectares of backlot, production offices and related facilities.
Fifteen new Serbian feature films were released in 2019, compared to 10 both in 2017 and in 2018: Taxi Blues / Taksi bluz directed by Miroslav Stamatov, produced by Viktorija Film and Klan produkcija, and distributed by Art Vista; Dogs Die Alone / Psi umiru sami directed by Nikola Petrović and produced by Singularity Pictures in coproduction with RED Production and distributed by FAME Solutions; Stitches / Šavovi directed by Miroslav Terzić and distributed by MCF Megacom Film; the documentary Divine Theme / Nebeska tema directed by Mladen Matičević, produced by Starhill and self-distributed; Delirium Tremens / Delirijum Tremens directed by Goran Marković, produced by RTS – Radio Television of Serbia and distributed by Fame Solutions; Leeches / Pijavice directed by Dragan Marinković, produced by Zillion Film in coproduction with Inter Film and Pank Film, and distributed by MCF Megacom Film; Military Academy 5 / Vojna akademija 5 directed by Dejan Zečević, produced by NIRA and RTS, and distributed by Art Vista; the documentary Lifeline / Linija života directed by Darko Bajić, produced by Magična linija and distributed by MCF Megacom Film; Aleksandra directed by Saša Radojević, produced by Eho produkcija and self-distributed; The Team / Ekipa directed by Marko Sopić, produced by Cinemašina and distributed by MC Megacom Film; Real Story / Realna priča directed by Gordan Kičić, produced by Filmkombajn in coproduction with Cross Media Agency and distributed by Art Vista; 4 Roses / 4 Ruže directed by Vasilije Nikitović, produced by Kino Oko and distributed by Cinefest; Ajvar directed by Ana Maria Rossi, produced by Biberche in coproduction with Montenegrin Artikulacija and distributed by Taramount Film; Ederlezi Rising directed by Lazar Bodroža, produced by Mir Media Group and BALKANIC, Inc, and distributed by MCF Megacom Film.
Another three feature films had a limited and/or national festival distribution: My Morning Laughter / Moj jutarnji smeh directed by Marko Đorđević and produced by Altertise in coproduction with Cinnerent; A.S. (25) directed by Milena Grujić and produced by the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and High Media; Who the Fuck Are You aka Operacija opera / Operation Opera directed by Marina Radimlac and produced by Satibara.
Several more national premiers are expected in 2020, at the upcoming edition of the FEST – International Film Festival in Belgrade, the oldest and the most popular film festival held at the end of February – begining of March.
Apart from two major Serbian long documentaries making it into the regular cinema distribution, 2019 saw a further growth of the Serbian documentary filmmaking. It was a good year for Serbian documentaries. The long documentary Wongar directed by Andrijana Stojković and produced by Art &Popcorn, which premiered internationally in the 2018 IDFA competition programme, took part in the Hor Docs Film Festival as well.
Speak So I Can See You / Govori da bih te video directed by Marija Stojnić and produced by Set Sail Films in coproduction with Croatian RESTART, had its world premiere in the official selection of the 2019 IDFA.
Mladen Kovačević’s new long documentary Merry Christmas, YiWu, produced by Horopter and coproduced by Bocalupo Films and Sysifos Film, was selected for the 2020 Rotterdam IFF. The prominent veteran Serbian filmmaker had a retrospective with his fiction and documentary works at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in April-May 2019.
Also in 2019, The Yugoslav Cinematheque / Jugoslovenska kinoteka continued its process of restoration of Serbian film classics in cooperation with the VIP Mobile operator. The restoration schedule is based on an official voting for the best Serbian films of all times, organised by the Cinematheque in December 2016.
Stiches / Šavovi directed by Miroslav Terzić and produced by Serbia’s West End Production in coproduction with Slovenia’s Nora Production, Croatia’s Spiritus Movens and Bosnia’s scca.Pro.ba, was selected for the Panorama section of the 2019 Berlin Film Festival. Soon afterwards, the film started a long festival circuit and was picked by Cercamon for international sales.
The German/Serbian coproduction I Was at Home, But… / Ich Ware zuhause, aber…, lensed by the Serbian DoP Ivan Marković and produced by Germany’s Nachmittagfilm in coproduction with Serbian Dart Film & Video, took part in the main competition programme of the Berlin Film Festival 2019, and its director Angela Schanalec won the Berlin Silver Bear for best director.
The Serbian/French/Croatian/Iranian/Qatar coproduction The Load / Teret directed by Ognjen Glavonić and produced by Non-Aligned Films in coproduction with Cinéma Defacto, Kinorama, Three Garden Films and Dart Film & Video, continued to be screened at international festivals.
The Witch Hunters / Zlogonje directed by Raško Miljković and produced by Serbia’s Akcija produkcija in coproduction with North Macedonia’s Dream Factory and Serbia’s This and That took part in the official Kids Selection programme of the Sundance Film Festival, while Stefan Malešević’s debut feature Mamonga, produced by Nana 143 in coproduction with Montenegro’s Code Blue Production and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Sarajevo Film Academy, had its world premiere in the official programme of the 54th Karlovy Vary IFF. The film was later selected for the New Horizons FF in Poland and the Marrakech IFF.
Maša Nešković’s debut feature Asymmetry / Asimetrija, produced by Serbia’s This and That Productions in coproduction with Slovenia’s Korektif and Italy’s Nightswim, had its world premiere at the Sao Paolo IFF. Ivana Mladenović’s sophomore feature Ivana the Terrible / Ivana cea Groaznică, produced by Romania’s microFILM in coproduction with Dunav 84, won the Special Mention in the 2019 Locarno Film Festival’s main competition selection and the Golden Pram at the 2019 Zagreb Film Festival.
Kosta Đorđević’s feature film Reži / Cutting Close, produced by Kinematografska kuća and Platforma, was selected for FilmFestival Cottbus, as well as for Cinedays in Skopje and Dances with Films in Los Angeles and New Orleans in the USA.
The first Serbian genuine SF Ederlezi Rising, directed by Lazar Bodroža and produced by Mir Media Group and BALKANIC, Inc, had a sizable success during its home entertainment (BR and DVD) and VOD distribution in the USA.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
The most sucessful domestic films in Serbian cinemas in 2019 were: Taksi Blues / Taksi bluz directed by Miroslav Stamatov (272,747 admissions), Military Academy 5 / Vojna akademija 5 directed by Dejan Zečević (92,978 admissions), The Team / Ekipa directed by Marko Sopić 73,370 admissions), Real Story / Realna priča directed by Gordan Kičić (54,509 admissions), 4 Roses / 4 Ruže directed by Vasilije Nikitović (39,718 admissions), Ajvar directed by Ana Maria Rossi (32,791 admissions).
Domestic feature films had 904,909 admissions in Serbian cinemas in 2019 .
The most sucessful international feature films in Serbian cinemas in 2019 were: Joker, The Balkan Line, The Lion King, Avengers: Endgame, Frozen 2 and Maleficient: Mistress of Evil.
In 2018 the most successful domestic films in Serbian cinemas were: South Wind / Južni vetar directed by Miloš Avramović, produced by Režim, Art Vista and Archangel Studios and distributed by Art Vista, with 605,010 admissions, and King Petar / Kralj Petar Prvi directed by Petar Ristovski, produced by Zillion Film in coproduction with Greece’s Steficon and distributed by Megacom Film MCF, with 168,447 admissions. Both films were still in distribution in January 2019.
No new cinemas were opened in 2019 but Serbia maintains several dozen of national and international film festivals in almost all towns of the country, as well as numerous film weeks and themed film events.
GRANTS AND LEGISLATION
Film Center Serbia (FCS) supported numerous film projects or film-related projects (such as pre-digitalisation) with 7,122,949 EUR / 837,307,600 RSD. In 2019 there were 26 Film Center Serbia’s contests for co-financing of feature and short fiction films, long and short documentaries, student films, experimental and video art films, genre-profiled and potentially commercial films.
In 2019 FCS introduced three new categories for co-financing feature film projects: films for children, debut features and feature animation films. In 2019 Film Center Serbia supported feature film projects to be directed by: Ivan Jović, Marko Backović, Petar Ristovski, Pavle Vučković, Miloš Avramović, Balša Đogo, Milutin Petrović, Nikola Spasić, Danilo Bećković, Marko Sopić, Petar Pašić, Milica Filipovski, Goran Stanković, Dean Radovanović, Ognjen Janković, Darko Bajić, Bojan Vuletić, Milan Todorović and Vojin Vasović.
In July 2019, Gordan Matić was appointed new director of Film Center Serbia.
Film Center Serbia joined the regional RE:ACT film coproduction initiative and will be a full member of RE-ACT in 2020.
Serbia continued its successful cooperation with MEDIA Desk, launched in Serbia back in 2016, and resulting in fresh MEDIA support for seven Serbian single film projects in 2019: The Trials of Chule / Čulova iskušenja directed by Danilo Bećković and produced by Gargantua Film, Trail of the Beast / Trag divljači directed by Nenad Pavlović and produced by Režim , d.o.o., Black Wedding / Crna svadba directed by Dragan Nikolić and produced by Prababa produkcija, And Now What, And Then What? / A šta sad, a šta tad? directed by Luka Papić and produced by Non-Aligned Film, Without / Bez directed by Boris Mitić and produced by Dribbling Pictures.
In 2019 Serbia had two successfull applications for the MEDIA Programme in the Group Project Development category. The winners are Belgrade based production companies – SENSE Production and This and That Productions, granted with 301,822 EUR altogether.
In 2018 MEDIA had also supported three prominent film festivals in Serbia: Belgrade’s Beldocs Documentary FF, the European Film Festival Palić and the Free Zone / Slobodna zona Film Festival, as well as 12 cinemas for screening European films, providing a total of 88,582 EUR.
At the beginning of 2019 it was officially announced that the Serbian Ministry of Economy had decided to increase the total budget available for incentives from 6,752,421 EUR / 800 m RSD in 2018 to 7.5 m EUR / 900 m RSD in 2019, while the Ministry of Culture and Information and Film Center Serbia would increase the national funding for domestic films and coproductions to 9 m EUR, as compared to 7,879,811 EUR in 2018.
Dušan Milić’s Darkling / Mrak, Ivan Ikić’s The Users / Korisnici and Labour Day / Prvi maj directed by Mladen Đorđević and produced by Korona Film in coproduction with SENSE Production and Homemade Films, were supported by Eurimages in 2019.
According to the TV station’s reports, the Serbian National Broadcasting Company RTS maintained its dominance in 2019 both in production and popularity for the sixth year in a row. According to a research commissioned by RTS itself, RTS’s programmes were watched by 3 m spectators every day, and great reasults in 2019 were achieved by sports, entertaintainment, film, educational and music programmes on this channel. The list of the 10 most watched domestic TV series includes solely series aired on RTS.
The most popular TV series in 2019 were coproduced and broadcast by RTS: Heroes of Our Time / Junaci našeg doba directed by Mihailo Vukobratović and coproduced by Telekom Srbija and Košutnjak Film, Five / Pet directed by Balša Đogo, Goran produced by RTS and serviced by Vision Team, The Group / Grupa directed by Uroš Tomić, Ivan Stefanović, Jelena Gavrilović, Nemanja Ćeranić, Slobodanka Radun, Miloš Radunović and Gvozden Đurić and produced by RTS.
Other popular TV shows in 2019 were: Top kanal’s two hit TV shows Hoop Dozen / žigosani u reketu, produced by Top Kanal and United Media, and coproduced by Cobra Film, The Black Sun / Senke nad Balkanom, the third season of My Father’s Killers / Ubice mog oca directed by Ivan Živković and Miroslav Lekić, and also the series Besa directed by Dušan Lazarević, produced by Adrenalin, which aired on TV Prva in 2019.
The second season of The Black Sun / Senke nad Balkanom was the first TV series content to be offered via pay-per-view streaming service, attracting 150,000 subscribers.
Apart from Besa and Hoop Dozen, TV Prva continued to air new series based on foreign content in 2019 – Truth and Lies / Istine i laži directed by numerous directors, together with older TV shows like ER / Urgentni centar directed by numerous directors and The Sinđelić Family / Sinđelićevi directed by numerous directors (the Serbian versions of ER and Los Serrano, both produced by Emotion).
After several years of inactivity, in 2019 TV Pink made a significant return to TV series with the TV comedy Codename: Despot / Šifra: Despot (50 episodes in its first season coproduced by Contrast Studio), launched in 2018, and then with two more fresh series – Civil Servant / Državni službenik directed by Miroslav Lekić and Ivan Živković, and produced by Telekom, as well as Surviving Belgrade / Preživeti Beograd directed by Đorđe Stojiljković and produced by Pink and Contrast Studio. However, the most watched programme was a new Serbian historical soap opera Red Moon / Crveni mesec produced by TV Pink itself.
The newly founded Belgrade-based Firefly production house is already in production with three major high-quality TV drama series, with several upcoming projects of the kind in development.
FILM CENTER SERBIA
Koče Popovića 9/III
11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: +3811162 251 31
FILM IN SERBIA
11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: +381 11 3230 581
MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND INFORMATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA
11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: +381 11 33 45 650 (Secretary of the Ministry)
FACULTY OF DRAMATIC ARTS
Bulevar Umetosti 20,
11070 Novi Beograd, Serbia
Phone: +381 11 213 56 84
Uzun Mirkova 1,
11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: +381 11 262 25 55
NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVE
Kneza Višeslava 8811000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: +381 11 354 97 94
Report by Zoran Janković (2020)
Sources: Film Center Serbia, the Serbia Film Commission