Producer: Natasa Damjanovic & Vladimir Vidic / DART FILM (Serbia)
Training and co-production markets: Torino FilmLab script development
Funding: Hubert Bals Fund of the International Rotterdam Film Festival
Katarina Koljević was born on 6.8.1993. in Belgrade, Serbia, where she graduated from Faculty of Dramatic Arts, department of Film and TV directing in 2017. Her short student films where screened at number of film festivals during her studies, including Sarajevo Film Festival in 2017., where her diploma film was a part of the student selection. This film was supported by Serbian Film Center and in the following year she won an audience award and a special mention for directing at the Bašta Film Festival. In 2020. she participated again with her M.A. short film at Sarajevo Film Festival and she was also a part of Talent Campus, Directors Summit. In 2017. she worked as a director and content creator for a web series “Slaven”, produced by Remarker media. She has directed and wrote several radio plays for Radio Belgrade during 2018. and 2019. In 2019. she participated at the Saari Artistic Residence of Konne Fondation in Finland where she was developing her first feature film. In 2020. her project “Long Weekend” was selected for script development at Torino Film Lab. As a casting director and an assistant director she has worked on projects such as “Humidity” (dir. Nikola Ljuca), “Requiem for Mrs. J.” (dir. Bojan Vuletić), “Quo Vadis Aida” (dir. Jasmila Žbanić) etc. She also works as a film critic and essayist for a web based publication Filmoskopija which is a part of Serbian Film Center. She also publishes film and tv based essays, critiques and interviews in other both web based and printed publications (https://ukontaktu.org/ ; Elle, Wanted).
There is a greater death than the one we call death, it is loneliness.
The collective main character in this film are the tenants of the “hotel for singles”. Much like the hotel itself, they are ground down by the wild and deviant version of liberal capitalism that has consumed Serbian society. The thing that connects them is that neither the hotel nor its’ tenants wanted to end up where they are. When a stranger comes to the hotel with the intent to commit suicide, it changes the lives of all its inhabitants.
Once we enter the hotel with that woman in the beginning of the film, we never leave that space. We are completely immersed in the microcosm of the hotel, feeling the growing tension between the tenants. The suicide upsets each of them and, suddenly, they find themselves increasingly colliding with one another, forming this weird collective bound by everyone’s misfortune. Partially, we get to know them as we follow one of the tenants investigation.
MARKO (35) is the general manager of the hotel. He bought it for a small amount of money in the privatization process of what was once socialist public property. NIKOLA (34), a young undertaker, appears at the hotel in search of customers. Even though it turns out that there’s no one who can pay for the woman’s funeral, Nikola keeps coming back. JASNA (63) is a caregiver for elderly people and KRISTINA (28) and ANDREJ (26) work the front desk. Kristina is an unemployed psychologist and Andrej is an eternal college student and bartender whose father kicked him out for being gay. DRAGAN (56) is a former legal officer who now works at a gas station and BORIS (34) is a delivery truck driver whose stutter and twitching subdue only when he is behind a steering wheel. Jasna feels the urge to find meaning and sense in the tragic death of the strange woman and gets drawn into her own investigation that ends up leading to each tenant of the hotel. Through the “investigation” they get connected.
As they are generationally close, Andrej, Boris and Kristina share a dark sense of humor, although Andrej is the frontrunner in this wisecracking. Dragan and Jasna are reclusive people from another time and another country who remember better days and feel debased by the reality of the current moment. They can endure only by anesthetizing themselves out of their own lives.
The suicide also draws out anger in the tenants because it brings into question the meaning of all their lives. This sudden presence of death begs the question if they are living at all. A stranger’s suicide will push one of the tenants “over the edge” and all of them make excellent candidates. As it turns out, the most sensitive ones are never those who seemed so at first glance.
In a borderline situation, it appears the only thing that stands between life and death and prevents us from being overwhelmed like those surreal sound of waves occasionally heard by all the tenants, are the people around us, however distant they may seem.
This is a story about life of a place where one woman choses to die.
The hidden ideology of today is to hide any weaknesses. Underneath the invitation to bravely show your imperfections, flaws and wounds, there is a hidden intolerance for any of it. Showing your weakness is still a sign to your environment that you are vulnerable or ill, no matter how many motivational messages that say otherwise we print on t-shirts. This still means you are either a bleeding prey or a source of a contagion. The worst kind of contagion, the contagion of failure.
This self-centered philosophy causes another more serious “virus” – the feeling of loneliness. This emotion has become an everyday phenomenon and a planetary illness. We have calmly accepted self-sufficiency because it suits our global economy and, in the process, we accepted loneliness as it side effect. This is why the situation that the characters in this film find themselves in is a paradox: when faced with a borderline situation, the only thing that keeps them from breaking down are others that share their reality.
I am interested in dealing with characters that are surviving rather than living and what happens when they face physical death. The tenants are deeply connected to the place they live in. Through their stories, we find out something about the society that stranded them at the hotel. The suicide of the woman questions their reasons to live. Physical death is confronted with the spiritual one and all of the tenants are drawn into this.
The sound of this film is extremely important because it is meant to expand the borders of the narrative beyond realism. In the visual approach the film remains in realism but the sound will have a surreal accent, most notably through the recurring with waves that all the characters hear. This sound has a meaning similar to the one the broken piano string has in the Chekov’s “Cherry orchard”. It warns us that lives are “out of tune” when confronted with death, because it leads them beyond: to a confrontation with themselves.
This film will explore the hidden cracks in the society, between the people who are invisible to others, where empathy unexpectedly still survives.