Father / Otac directed by Srdan Golubović was selected for the Panorama section of the 2020 Berlin IFF.
Ivan Ivkić’s sophomore feature Oasis / Oaza was selected for the Giornate degli Autori section of the Venice Film Festival 2020.
Dara of Jasenovac / Dara iz Jasenovca by Predrag Antonijević was chosen as Serbia’s candidate for the 93rd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award in the Best International Feature Film category.
In 2020, the 25% cash rebate for film production remained at the level established in 2019.
Nine new Serbian feature films started and/or completed production since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, namely: Radivoje Andrić’s How I Learned to Fly / Leto kad sam naučila da letim, produced by SENSE production and coproduced by Croatia’s Kinorama and Bulgaria’s Art Fest; Miloš Avramović’s South Wind 2: The Quickening / Južni vetar 2. Ubrzanje, produced by Režim and Archangel Studios, and coproduced by Croatia’s Telefilm d.o.o.; Milutin Petrović’s Bad Blood / Hadžijino zvono, produced by This And That Production and coproduced by RTS – Radio Television of Serbia; Dragan Bjelogrlić and Zoran Lisinac’s Toma, produced by Cobra Film and Minacord Production; Ognjen Janković’s Golden Boy / Zlatni dečko, produced by Fantastika Film Studio; Nemanja Ćeranić’s Penance / Lihvar, produced by Tracktor Film; Slobodan Šijan’s The Great Tram Robbery / Budi Bog s nama, produced by Gargantua Films in coproduction with Croatia’s Maxima film and Jaako dobra produkcija, Slovenia’s Studio Virc, Montenegro’s Artikulacija Film, Czech Sirena Film, Bulgaria’s Chouchkov Brothers and Romania’s Micro FILM; Petar Ristovski’s Once Upon a Time in Serbia / Bilo jednom u Srbiji, produced by LE Film and coproduced by Media House, DME Production and Soul Food Films; and Balša Đogo’s Košare, produced by Omega Production. For comparison, 14 Serbian films were shot in 2019.
Numerous feature films are in different stages of prostproduction: 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 and Greece’s Graal; 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 Celts / Kelti directed by Milica Tomović and produced by EED Production; 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 and Lithuania’s Artbox; 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.
As a result, 2021 should bring another slight increase in the number of Serbian films and Serbian majority productions to be completed and released.
In 2020, the cash rebate for film production (25%) remained at the level established in 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.
Even during the pandemic year, Serbia managed to keep attracting international productions willing to shoot there, including a sequel to the American box-office hit Don’t Breathe directed by Rodo Sayagues, produced by Ghost House Pictures and serviced by Work in Progress; the UK/German/Serbian horror Vampir directed by Branko Tomović, produced by UK’s Red Marked films, coproduced by Germany’s Vickermann Films and serviced by Dinaric Alps Productions; Howard J. Ford’s climbing thriller The Ledge, produced by Evolution Pictures and serviced by Red Production Serbia; the Australian feature film You Won’t Be Alone directed by Goran Stolevski, produced by Causeway Films in association with Head Gear Films and Metrol Technology, and starring Noomi Rapace, Anamaria Marinca and Felix Maritaud (serviced by Balkanic Media). The CW channel’s fantasy TV show The Outpost continued production in Belgrade, serviced by Balkanic Media.
At the end of April 2020 London-based Head Gear Films announced its plans to make a large investment in productions shot in Serbia. The investment facility has been set up to be operated in partnership with the Belgrade-based production outfit Balkanic Media, founded by filmmaker Jonathan English together with Los Angeles-based producer James Gibb.
COVID GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
Film Center Serbia was the first state culture insitution to voice out a formal plee for the state to support film workers and exibitors. Consequently, even during the pandemic Serbia managed to maintain its standard pattern of financial support contests in full capacity for the fifth year in a row.
In November 2020 eighteen cinemas and/or screening venues were granted approximately 43,000 EUR / 5 m RSD for stimulating Serbian/domestic film distribution.
Five new Serbian feature films were released in 2020, compared to 15 the year before: Srdan Golubović’s Father / Otac produced by Serbia’s Baš Čelik in coproduction with France’s ASAP Films, Germany’s Neue Mediopolis, Croatia’s Propeler Film, Slovenia’s Vertigo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s scca/Pro.Ba, in coproduction with ZDF Arte and Arte France; Mladen Đorđević’s docufiction Vienna Hallways / Sumrak u bečkom haustoru produced by Corona Film and Cinnamon Films; A.S. (25) by Milena Grujić, produced by the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade / Fakultet dramskih umetnosti; Darko Bajić’s Fathers of Liberty / Ime naroda produced by Zillion Film with executive producer Košutnjak Film; and Miroslav Momčilović’s Weekend with Pop / Vikend sa ćaletom produced by Brigada and coproduced by United Media.
Weekend with Pop was by far the most popular one, scoring nearly 60,000 admissions in Serbian cinemas during the autumn of 2020.
In February 2020 Father / Otac by Srdan Golubović was selected for the Panorama section of the 2020 Berlin IFF, where it won the Ecumenical Jury Award and the Audience Award.
Ivan Ivkić’s sophomore feature Oasis / Oaza aka The Users / Korisnici, produced by SENSE Production in coproduction with the Netherlands’ Kepler Film, Slovenia’s Tramal Films, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s SCCA / Pro.ba and France’s Les Films d’Antoine, received the Europa Cinemas Venice Label Award in the Giornate degli Autori section of the Venice Film Festival 2020.
The Serbian minority coproduction Malmkrog directed by the Romanian Cristi Puiu and produced by Romania’s Mandragora in coproduction with iadasarecasa, SENSE Production, Cinnamon Films, Film i Väst, Doppelganger, Bord Cadre Films, Produkcija 2006 Sarajevo and Sisters and Brothers Mitevski, was awarded for Best Director in Berlinale’s 2020 new section, Encounters.
In the Dusk by Lithuanian director Sharunas Bartas, a coproduction between Studio Kinema (Lithuania), France‘s Kino Elektron, Serbia’s Biberche Productions, Latvia‘s Mistrus Media, Sirena Film from the Czech Republic and Portugal’s Terratreme Filmes, was selected for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival and was later screened at the San Sebastian Film Festival.
The Serbian/German/Bulgarian coproduction Living Man / Živi čovek directed by Oleg Novković and produced by Produkcija SALT in coproduction with Ostlicht filmproduktion GmbH and The Chouchkov Brothers, premiered at 2020’s Cottbus Film Festival.
Marko Đorđević’s debut feature My Morning Laughter / Moj jutarnji smeh, produced by Altertise in coproduction with Cinnerent, was screened at the Rotterdam Film Festival at the beginning of 2020.
Starting from March 2020 the vast majority of film festivals were postponed and took place online.
Also in 2020, the Yugoslav Cinematheque / Jugoslovenska kinoteka went on with 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. The premieres were mostly organised online.
The historical WW2 drama Dara of Jasenovac / Dara iz Jasenovca directed by Predrag Antonijević was chosen as Serbia’s candidate for the 93rd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award in the Best International Feature Film category. The film is a Serbian coproduction, produced by Dandelion Production Inc and coproduced by Film Danas and Komuna.
VOD PLATFORMS AND ONLINE DISTRIBUTION
The leading Serbian film distributor, MCF Megacom Film started its PVOD platform in April 2020, followed by the launching of the streaming platform Cinesseum, focusing solely on Serbian and regional films and content.
Furthermore, Film Center Serbia launched its YouTube channel, thus providing authors and producers with an additional opportunity to reach a much broader audience with their films.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
Total admissions in Serbia plummeted from 4,784,598 in 2019 to 1,562,590 in 2020, while total gross fell from 16.6 m EUR in 2019 down to 5.2 m EUR in 2020. Cinemas in Serbia were closed from March up to the early days of September, and later on they operated under official restrictions regarding working hours and the number of cinemagoers allowed.
The most watched new Serbian film in regular distribution during 2020 was the dramedy Weekend With Pop / Vikend sa ćaletom, with 53,718 admissions and 183,000 EUR / 21,619,847 RSD gross. The film, scripted and directed by Miroslav Momčilović, was produced by Brigada and coproduced by United Media. It was distributed by MCF Megacom Film.
The second most watched new Serbian film in 2020 was Father / Otac by Srdan Golubović (distributed by MCF Megacom Film), with 15,010 admissions and 47,000 EUR / 5,534,001 RSD gross.
The rest of the domestic chart is as follows: Fathers of Liberty / Ime naroda by Darko Bajić (distributed by MCF Megacom Film) with 2,636 admissions and 7,800 EUR / 925,450 RSD gross, A.S. (25) by Milena Grujić (distributed by FAME Solutions) with 1,531 admissions and 4,500 EUR / 530,206 RSD gross, and the docufiction Vienna Hallway / Sumrak u bečkom haustoru by Mladen Đorđević (distributed by MCF Megacom Film) with 866 admissions and 2,800 EUR / 325,800 RSD gross.
Additionnally, Ajvar directed by Ana Marija Rossi, produced by Serbia’s Biberche, coproduced by Montenegro’s Artikulacija and distributed by Taramount Film, and 4 Roses / 4 Ruže directed by Vasilije Nikitović, produced by Kinooko Film and distributed by Cinefest, entered distribution in 2019 and scored 51,953 admissions and 166,000 EUR / 19,601,361 RSD gross and 52,706 admissions and 178,000 EUR / 21,055,899 RSD resepectively in 2019 and 2020 combined.
The most popular new foreign films in Serbian cinemas in 2020 were: The Gentlemen, Tenet, After We Collided, Mulan and The Trolls: World Tour, the first three being distributed by Blitz Film & Video and the fourth and the fifth ones by MCF Megacom Film and Taramount Film, respectively. The most watched, however, was the Russian blockbuster The Servant, starring the Serbian actor Miloš Biković and distributed by At Vista, which began its distribution in Serbia at the end of 2019 and went on being screened during the winter of 2020, as well.
The Cineplexx opened two more multiplexes in Belgrade, whereas the Cinestar opened its first multiplex in Belgrade and its fourth multiplex in Serbia.
Moreover, Film Center Serbia and Belgrade’s Kombank Hall / Kombank dvorana established a partnership, and every week Kombank Hall will screen a Serbian feature film, a Serbian minority coproduction and a long Serbian documentary film.
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 2020 there were 26 Film Center Serbia’s contests for co-financing of feature films and short fiction films, long and short documentaries, student films, experimental and video art films, genre-profiled and potentially commercial films.
For 2021 FCS has already planned two new grant categories: grants for feature films by renowned veteran directors and grants for film adaptions of Serbian literary works. During the course of 2020, Film Center Serbia carried out 29 grant contests, resulting in the support of 166 projects, which were granted with 6,167,743 EUR / 724.5 m RSD. The grant list includes 18 feature films and 13 long documentaries, which is the highest number of supported projects in the history of FCS.
Serbia continued its successful cooperation with MEDIA Desk. MEDIA supported four prominent film festivals in Serbia in 2020: Belgrade’s Beldocs Documentary FF, the European Film Festival Palić, the Free Zone / Slobodna zona Film Festival and the Auteur Film Festival / Festival autorskog filma, providing a total of 154,000 EUR. Serbian production houses, companies and projects were sucessful in 10 categories, winning 817,132 EUR in total at the MEDIA Creative Europe contests in 2020.
Radivoje Andrić’s How I Learned to Fly / Leto kad sam naučila da letim and Vuk Ršumović’s Story About Fateme / Priča o Fateme, produced by Baboon Production and Art & Popcorn, were supported by Eurimages in 2020.
The Serbian National Broadcasting Company RTS maintained its dominance in 2020, being the most popular channel for the seventh year in a row (and nine out of 10 years), according to the TV station’s reports. A survey commissioned by the RTS itself showed that RTS’s programmes were watched by approximately 3 m spectators on a daily basis, and great reasults in 2020 were achieved by sports, entertaintainment, film, educational and music programmes on this channel. The list of the 10 most watched domestic TV series includes nine series which were aired on RTS.
The most popular new TV series at the end of the year was Truckers 3 / Kamiondžije, d.o.o directed by Filip Čolović and produced by RTS itself, while TV Prva can surely boast the domination in the respective slot on working days with the soap opera Game of Destiny / Igra sudbine directed by various directors.
The Belgrade-based Firefly production house in coproduction with Telekom Srbija made three drama series which were aired in prime-time at the Radio Television of Serbia – RTS, namely: Tycoon / Tajkun directed by Miroslav Terzić, The Swamp / Močvara directed by Oleg Novković and Clan / Klan directed by Boban Skerlić, the last one being the most watched among all the TV series at the turn of the year.
Film Center Serbia has reignited the cooperation with the RTS – Radio Television of Serbia regarding the acqusition and screenings of Serbian documentary films and Serbian minority coproductions.
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 (2021)
Sources: Film Center Serbia, Serbia Film Commission