Teenager Luka lives in the small Serbian town of Mladenovac with a mother who can’t handle him anymore, and his life is one scrape after another. He and his best mate Flash lead the local football fans and spend most of their spare time rooting for their team and drinking beer. Debuting director Ivan Ikić set his realistic tale of coming of age and the quest for identity against a backdrop of the unrest sparked by Kosovo’s declaration of independence. [Synopsis courtesy of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival]

The Whirlpool

The second half of the 1990s in Belgrade. Three childhood friends are becoming adults, trying to find themselves in the chaotic whirlpool of events. Within a period of 48 hours their lives change completely. The film tells three separate stories, but all intertwined. Bogdan is the aggressive leader of a Belgrade skinhead group. His anger is largely caused by an abusive father (played by Emir Kusturica). Kale is the last living member of a famous gangster clan, their motto being “Better to live one day as a king than a thousand years as a slave”. Count is a graffiti artist who is battling his ghosts from the war by drawing a whirlpool which he believes will suck out all the dark shadows from his past. Director’s statement: “If, while swimming in a river, a whirlpool catches you and starts pulling you down – don’t fight it. Dive in deep and let it pull you to the bottom. It’s the weakest there and maybe you’ll make it. All those who lived in the Balkans during the 1990s felt the strength of being in a whirlpool-like state. We were sucked into it against our will, and even today we can’t seem to get out”. [Synopsis courtesy of Warsaw Film Festival]