First Films First


EMBRYO / Serbia


Maša Šarović was born in Subotica in 1993. She graduated at the Faculty of Drama Arts in Belgrade, the Department of Film Directing. Her short film The City (2016) had premiered at the Film Festival in San Sebastian, after which it was presented and awarded at many film festivals. Another short film The Hottest Summer Days (2018) had premiered at Sarajevo Film Festival and was presented at other festivals such as FID Marseille, Ljubljana FEKK (where she got Gran Prix for the best film) Winterthur International Short Film Festival, TAU Student Film Festival Tel Aviv, Early Bird Film Festival…In 2019 she took part in the Factory project of Cannes Film Festival where she directed a segment of the omnibus called- “In Your Hands’’. At the moment she is finishing her master studies at the Faculty of Drama Arts and developing her first feature film.


Ksenija (25) is pregnant. She is expecting a baby with her husband Ljubo (30). They live in Podgorica, Montenegro with his two aunts, Lidija and Seka. Lidija and Seka strictly control Ksenija\’s pregnancy. They treat her as an instrument for a “birth of an heir”. When Ksenija gives birth, Ljubo is disappointed that the child is not a son and one of the aunts becomes possessive towards the child. Ksenija can’t produce milk, which leads to a conspiracy to get it from her anyway, using force. Ksenija rejects Ljubo, which makes him aggressive and violent. She starts to experience motherhood as a punishment. Ksenija tries to leave the apartment with the baby. The apartment is locked. In order to save herself, Ksenija jumps with the baby from the third floor. Ksenija survives, the child doesn’t. Badly injured, Ksenija gets the full attention of the medical staff, but the police are against her. Ksenija’s family tries to help her. Unfortunately, it is not enough. Everybody gives up so Ljubo accepts Ksenija back. Ksenija struggles to feel anything.


It is my opinion to start right here. In the third year of directing studies, I made a film entitled City. The setting is simple, a girl and a boy coming to a big city where they meet a striking boy in the tram. She is afraid of him, while the boy does not notice anything unusual. The Boy then leaves her alone in the park, after which the striking boy from the tram rapes her. In this film, I try to problematize the fear I feel when I am uncertain and unprotected near the nearest ones. The belief that our nearest is always support is to my opinion fictive ideal that often fails bearing consequences that follow us. The next short film The Hottest Days of summer refers to the similar topic in details I have directed it in a completely different style, but the obsession with the topic was almost the same. The script for “Embryo” attached to me by it\’s a sincere and direct explication and cruel display of six months of life of a woman. It was surprising to me that my two films by the topics can be a sort of preparation for dealing with a one really \”difficult\” story about a mother who killed her baby. Further on I will explain why.

“Embryo” deals with the phenomena of “bad mother” in the milieu of our still patriarchal society the main character, Ksenija, is perceived as such by people nearest to her, her family, by the circumstances she can not influence on. She constantly suffers due to her nearest being not capable to tear off. The situation culminates in gradation and she passes the limits of endurance and trying to find a way out she does the worst kill her baby. The society, we live in, full of myths, does not offer forgiveness for bad mothers, let alone for a mother who kills her baby. Ksenija’s masochism is the side-effect of patriarchal society Patriarchy enthrones in the characters of Lidija and Seka, who deal in shadows thinking that they do a good thing. Lidija and Seka are in addictive symbiosis, symbiosis which makes Ljubo, their nephew, and Ksenija\’s husband and aggressor. It is a general opinion that aggression occurs when someone\’s interests are in jeopardy As for Ljubo being raised that he is special being a man, the life surrounded by dominant women means that all his interests are in jeopardy A conflict smoldering between two families, Ljubo\’s and Ksenija\’s is a conflict of two types of families. Ljubo\’s primitive and Ksenija\’s petty-bourgeois Ljubo\’s family is unhappy from his birth due to the death of his parents, the death that condemns them to a loving relationship towards suffering. Ksenija\’s family tries to maintain the semblance of happiness that does not exist, at any cost. Both families, just like Montenegro where the story takes place, are protected by hypocrisies. Ksenija\’s problems rise due to the complete misunderstanding of people she lives with. Their relationship with Ksenija has changed with her pregnancy, which she feels like a punishment due to that. It starts from the subconscious and it endangers her physical due to which instead of empathy and understanding she gets more punishments. She can not breast-feed her newborn baby, and due to this, she gets more condemnation so Ksenija starts to believe that she does not deserve to be a mother. For Ksenija the idea being mother raises to a nightmare in which she will completely lose herself. I have to pint out that Ksenija is not a profile of helpless woman sufferers. She is intelligent, hyper sensible ambitioned very well aware of the ambiance she lives in.That is why this story about her is more complex and specific – it is a psychological drama about inner processes that can change one completely. As the juxtaposition of Ksenija\’s new family, we have her relationship with her parent\’s family. Ksenija’s mother condemns her from a completely different angle because she got married very young and got a baby. The father is absent in presence and in the past, he used to be the main source of information and love towards Ksenija what is disclosed by flashbacks. She does not have support to which she is used to. In the end, her return to the parent family breaks her adding, as her brother ejects her. .,, Embryo’’ is the film about family\’s pathology. Does the question arise about the facts that should make one happy: family, job, society, love, and child? Ksenija\’s story functions in a way as a negation of all accepted elements. The symbol of motherhood, mother’s instincts, pregnancy – to which this milieu is based. A strong accent is out on the atmosphere so that the film world would be like suffocating and poison glass bell.

ATMOSPHERE, VISUAL IDENTITY AND ACTORS PROCEDURE IN THE FILM Visual identity of the film should show and transfer alienation that exists among characters, alienation of Ksenija from others and at the end Ksenija from herself. The atmosphere of the heat of summer and interiors in shade show the naturalistic conditions of stagnation and every day wasting of time. The contrast of summer interiors is kept but we confront it with lowered gamma of interiors. Flashback is used to make an impression from Ksenija\’s reality they exist as a sort of mental pause being visually different from the total style of the film. There is a difference as they are not narrative type, but flashes of situations from the past (for example a scene with father who immerses her in water) As everyone look at her as a patient in order to treat Ksenija character there will be certain, separation towards other characters, which does not mean she should be distanced from her. On the contrary, her character will be treated with empathy. The spaces in which film takes place are of key importance and they will provide a spectator to find out a lot about characters, avoiding resolving their backgrounds verbally. The scenography, choice of locations, and costumes will be made with a great exploration spirit. We want exact locations, real locations, and costumes. As it is clear the acting performance is of crucial importance, I consider it not even to talk to it. I consider it the most important to make casting in which the most important would be professional actors. It is important to point out that actors in the film can attract attention to themselves and to disturb the classical narrative leadership of the spectator through the story. That is why the body of the main character will be treated separately, from the pint of view of visual and in certain segments of the acting approach. Ksenia passes through various physical and psychological changes that influence her and she evokes views and reactions of supporting characters. This approach has aims to throw out a spectator from the comfort zone of the classic consumer. The scenes that can be characterized as morbid or explicit should not hesitate from this content or directing procedure. It is our aim to transfer Ksenija’s experience and state of mind as the spectator should feel everything she feels and lives through. The narration of the film is based on two points of observation. From one side we follow the hero. The camera discloses his emotions he is trying to hide. These emotions are very intensive. On the other hand, we concentrate on the relationship of the hero with his ambiance, as well as details of this ambiance. The first point of observation I would call direct, and the second transcendent. „Embryo“with its sour and hopeless end sets the question: Is the life under the glass bell of the patriarchal community really easier from the life made of individual choices?

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