OUR FATHER / Serbia
Goran grew up in Serbia where he received his BA in film directing. In 2014, he graduated with a Master’s Degree from the Directing Program at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and his thesis film WAY IN RYE was nominated for the Student Academy Award for Best Narrative Short. His two undergraduate films, WHO GUARDS THE GUARDIANS and OLD MOUNTAIN, were selected for over 50 international festivals and won 17 awards. During his studies at the American Film Institute, Goran was awarded The Hollywood Foreign Press and The Richard Frank scholarships. He also won the Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award in recognition of talent and outstanding direction in his thesis film Way in Rye. His first feature documentary, IN THE DARK, a story about Serbian miners had its world premiere at the prestigious IDFA 2014 festival in Amsterdam and has gone to win awards across US and Europe. The broadcasting rights were bought by Al Jazeera and the Discovery Channel. In 2018, Goran co-created a 40-episode dramedy series MORNING CHANGES EVERYTHING for the Serbian National Broadcaster RTS for which he directed 18 episodes. Most recently he directed 5 episodes of the Serbian period drama BAD BLOOD and is currently preparing his first feature film OUR FATHER.
DEJAN (32) is taken by his mother VIOLETA (60) to a monastery commune, to be treated for his drug addiction. The place is led by a charismatic priest BRANKO (54) who has absolute authority over the small community counting around thirty addicts. Branko appoints MIONICA (33) as Dejan\’s guardian, a sensitive soul, earnest and trustworthy. With his support Dejan needs to move towards healing. He is assigned to carry wood, wash feces and clean waste while fighting a strong post-abstinence crisis. He has no time to think, just to fight. The commune functions as a wholesome unit, but when rules are broken, the punishment is cruel. Branko, the priest, sees potential in Dejan giving him more responsibilities and investing more time and trust in him. Dejan begins to find meaning in this new position of power and begins to preach to others, making it seem like he is completely healed. When a disturbing clip made by a former addict showing the priest beating his patients with a shovel, goes viral, the existence of the center is called into question. One evening Mionica, Dejan’s former guardian, returns to the center under the influence of drugs, breaking the commune’s biggest rule. Dejan, now Branko’s right hand, must decide whether to protect his friend or remain loyal to the priest and punish him.
This story is inspired by a true incident from 10 years ago when a cellphone video showing the brutal punishment of one of the rehab patients in the Crna Reka monastery went viral. The public immediately polarized into those who support the priests\’ methods and those who strongly condemn it. Three years later, the same priest was charged of beating to death one of his rehab patients.
For a long period of time, I looked at this event only as a form of media hysteria. It was not until a couple of years later when I got to meet one of the former rehab patients that I was able to look at this phenomenon from a different perspective. I realized that this place was full of people who lost the meaning of their existence.
They lost the strength and the will to fight to change something in their lives. I also realized that one man took advantage of the way these people felt. A place that provided a sanctuary for many was created but their despair opened a space for manipulation. I am interested in exploring the creation of a Cult, the need of a lost person to find his own place and the violent methods that this system was founded on.
“Our Father,” focuses on a group of rejected people on the margins of society, abandoned even by their closest family. For those who lost all hope and meaning in life, this remote monastery starts to appear as a sustainable system that gives a new perspective on life through a sense of belonging, religion, discipline and hard work. I want to try to show the complexity of such a mechanism, a mix of repression and true belief in changes.
This mechanism heals and helps, but when it takes on its worst form, it leads to destruction. From today\’s perspective, this is a story about an isolated system that for a moment, resembles a utopia but becomes unsustainable and ultimately, like any form of autocracy conducted by violence, inevitably leads to disaster. Sometimes it takes an extreme eye-opener like this to start radical changes in people as well as in society. However, at the very end of this story, all these abandoned people are again forgotten and return to their invisible lives on the margins of society. This film is dedicated to that little man.
Producer: Snezana van Houwelingen (This and That Productions, Serbia)
Co-producer: Ivana Mikovic (Firefly Production, Serbia), Ines Vasiljevic (Nightswim, Italy)
Funding: Production Fund from Film Center Serbia, Italian Ministry of Culture Cinema Division Co-Production Support, REACT Award at Trieste WEMW, Croatian Audiovisual Center Co-Production Support
Training and markets: Selected for Russian Roskino Film Market Pitching, Brussels Co-Production Forum, Cinelink Sarajevo Co-Production Forum, MFI Script Workshop