It’s been a dozen years since Srdan Golubovic’s debut feature, “Absolute Hundred” opened at Toronto. Over time, the focus of the born-and-raised Belgrade native has shifted from downtrodden Olympians to parents faced with impossible decisions, the main subject of his Oscar-shortlisted “The Trap” back in 2007. Now teaching at the Serbian school where he learned the craft, Golubovic has turned his cinematic attention to a story with roots deep in the region.
What It’s About: “The story is about consequences of a heroic act. Is a heroic act meaningless, or does it provoke certain moral acts in the future?”
Now What It’s REALLY About: “Bosnia – 1993. In the midst of the Bosnian war, Marko, a Serbian soldier, witnesses the brutal aggression against Haris, a Muslim civilian, by three fellow soldiers. Marko interferes and saves Haris, but is beaten to death by the infuriated soldiers.
“2008. The war is over but the wounds of the conflict are still open. Marko’s father is rebuilding a church – he is offered help by one of Marko’s killers’ son and hesitates about accepting it. Marko’s friend, a renowned surgeon in Belgrade, faces terrible choices when told to operate on one of the three soldiers on the verge of death. As for Haris, he now lives in Germany and is faced with a unique opportunity to repay his debt to his savior.
“‘Circles’ is a film about people whose lives are changed by a single event. About shadows of the past and the need to step out of these shadows.”
Biggest Challenge?: “This film is inspired by true events. When I heard a story about a Serbian soldier who saved the life of his Muslim neighbor, and because of that was beaten to death by his fellow Serbian soldiers, I realized that I must present this story, as a unique one amongst rare positive stories of war in former Yugoslavia.
“I asked myself, ‘Does one human life, sacrificed in this way, trigger positive effects on other people? Can this transform us to become better?’
“During the Ex-Yugoslav wars, I lived in Belgrade and studied at Film school. The battlefield was 100 km from me and I was appalled with the horrors that happened on an everyday basis, but I didn’t have the courage or I couldn’t rebel against it.
“Making this film is my personal reconciliation with those times.”
What I Shot On: “ArriCam Light 35mm.”
What I Want Audiences To Remember: “I think that the story of ‘Circles’ is universal and that the audience will connect with the characters and their destinies.
“If the catharsis of the main characters in the film becomes a little private catharsis of every individual that watches ‘Circles,’ it would be my greatest success.”
Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on January 17 for the latest profiles.