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08. March 2011
Montevideo – the city of Serbian dreams
It’s a long time since such enthusiasm was seen in cinemas and football stadiums. The film Montevideo, God bless you is currently the talk of the sporting and cultural scene and, since its premiere on 20 December 2010, has been seen by more than 350,000 people.
In remembrance of heroic deedsThe subject of the directorial debut by the popular Serbian actor Dragan Bjelogrlić is the greatest success ever known in Yugoslavian or Serbian football, namely, finishing third in the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930. The film is based on the book of the same name by the well-known Serbian sports journalist Vladimir Stanković. The plot is set in Belgrade and divided into several parallel strands. The audience becomes familiar with the footballers and their lives, love stories and friendships, as well as the numerous challenges they face. You learn a lot about life in Belgrade in the 1930s, all told in a very simple and humorous way.
The screenplay is the work of the cult Serbian director Srđan Dragojević, with budding young Serbian actors like Miloš Biković, Petar Strugar, Nina Janković and Viktor Savić appearing in the main roles.
Are record viewer numbers possible?In the last few years, Belgrade has gained around 15 new cinema screens in two large shopping malls, but in the rest of Serbia, there are far too few cinemas. “These days, it is very difficult to get more than a million cinema-goers for a film, compared to about 10 years ago,” Montevideo project director Zvonimir Šimunec tells wieninternational.at. “There are only 70 cinemas currently operating in Serbia. Cinemas have been converted into more profitable businesses. When distributing our film, we were able to renovate about 10 cinemas through the ‘Intermedia Network’ company in order to be able to show people in several cities the film. In other cities, it was shown in sports halls. The feedback there was also very positive.”
True valuesUnlike many films that have left a bitter aftertaste and have turned out to be huge disappointments, Montevideo is a cinematic masterpiece that sends its viewers into raptures. What is the attraction of this film that tells of long-ago times and is about a subject that is now an everyday thing? “After a long time, a film has come out bringing positive energy and showing Serbia in a different light to that which cinema-goers are accustomed to,” believes Šimunec. “Finally, a story has been told in which Serbs are not presented as criminals, drunks or destroyers of civilised ideals. Lots of the films made here and financed by the European support fund tell ‘sad stories’ and there has been the impression that in this part of Europe, ‘normal’ people simply don’t make it. We have uncovered a bit of history and have tried to give today’s generation a reason to be proud of their forefathers. And it seems as though we have succeeded.”
Success throughout former YugoslaviaThe makers of this hit Serbian film wanted to tell a universal story about people with a vision who, united in a team, come to realise their dreams, this theme being relevant for all people, regardless of their geographical location. However, the film does have special resonance for the new generations in the Balkans. “We are convinced that the film will be a huge success in all of the countries of former Yugoslavia,” says Šimunec confidently.
Although the film describes the great success enjoyed by the kingdom of Yugoslavia’s football team, it is of particular relevance for Serbia. At the first World Cup in Montevideo, only players from the Belgrade teams ‘BSK’ and ‘Jugoslavija’ (two archrivals from the capital city) and from abroad appeared for the Yugoslavian national team. The footballers from Croatia refused to play for the kingdom as a protest against the relocation of the Yugoslavian football association headquarters from Zagreb to Belgrade.
In the meantime, numerous invitations to take part in international festivals have been received. The film was shown at this year’s Berlinale, and at the beginning of February, it received five awards from the Serbian section of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI), including the prize for best film.
TV series and sequelIn spring, a TV series based on the film is due to be broadcast by the Serbian state TV channel RTS. A second film will also soon be released. The actors are busy these days practising their football skills, in order to be able to play stars like Marjanović, Tirnanić et al (who even beat Brazil 2-1 in faraway Uruguay) as convincingly as possible. The entire film crew will travel to Montevideo in March. There, in the authentic surroundings of the city and the ‘Centenario’ stadium, where the Yugoslavian team played their semi-final in front of 100,000 spectators, scenes for the second film and the new episodes of the TV series will be shot.