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The Face of Revolution (2012)
The Face of Revolution (original title)
Lice Revolucjie (title with latin characters)
Documentary, 53 min
Production country   Serbia
Language   Serbian
Director   Vladimir Milovanovic
Scriptwriter   Vladimir Milovanovic
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Branko Ilic was one of the leaders of the rebellion against the Milosevic regime in Serbia in the 1998-2000 period and the leader of the students’ movement Resistance. He was arrested and beaten dozens of times, and in 2000 he received MTV “Free your mind” award for his struggle on behalf of the Resistance. Exactly ten years after the October 5th revolution, Branko returns to Belgrade from voluntary exile in his native Arilje. He starts working as a bartender and temporarily moves in with Svaba, an old friend from the time of the protest. During this time, the famous advertising agency Svaba works for is hastily preparing a major campaign to promote consumer loans. Svaba and Branko decide to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of Milosevic in front of the Serbian Parliament on October 5th. Following the event and the interweaving of real and fictional characters and events, the mask of the traumatized Serbian society caught between socialism and capitalism falls down, leaving the viewers with the opportunity to draw the line between documentary and fiction themselves.
Interview With The Filmmaker
“Revolutionary Offer “ is an auteur film, your debut as screenwriter, director and producer. What idea did you have in mind when you started thinking about this project?

This film originated from the workshops that were organized by Zoran Eric and Stevan Vukovic in the Museum of Contemporary Art. They had the idea to bring together “video artists” under the age of 30 who would work for a while with Zelimir Zilnik. The topic of this workshop was “From Dionysian Socialism to Predatory Capitalism” where, for a few months, we discussed various “parallel histories” that were left unrecorded. The most interesting part of that process were hours and hours of Zilnik’s incredible stories about anything and everything. That was the moment when I got interested in some of the Yugoslav film authors from the late 1960s and when started reading and researching them frantically. And when the time came to propose a scenario for a short film, I tried to dig out the topics that were treated by these authors in their first films. The motif of disillusionment with revolution was copied to my own life, and the story of the Resistance and post October 5th Serbia somehow came to the fore. Then I got carried away. We spent two years shooting and editing the film which lasts around 54 minutes, and the whole process ultimately involved around 70 people.

For the first time in many years, people will see one of the youngest and most important members of the Resistance - Branko Ilic. What was the fate of the late 1990s revolutionaries from your perspective?

There’s a variety of revolutionaries and fates, but Branko’s story is interesting because he actually represented the personification of student protests and struggle against Milosevic in the late nineties. When Branko received the MTV award on behalf of the Resistance in 2000, he became an overnight pop-political icon. We were close to him and at one point there was a period when he could not walk down the street because of the people who stopped him at every turn. In the meantime, all sorts of things happened, but Branko remained the embodiment of pure heart and sincerity. In that sense, his life is paradigmatic in relation to all the people who are not driven by greed and selfishness.

How did you reach Branko and was it difficult to persuade him to step out in public again?

It all went smoothly. We’ve been through a lot together in the Resistance and after the Resistance, and regardless to the fact that we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years, when we met again, everything simply began to unroll. Comrades from the Resistance are some kind of lifelong (anti)war friends. Whatever they do or make in their lives later, you know they were close when there was trouble. And ridiculous as it may seem now, back then there was trouble.

In what way did the work on the film affect Branko in real life?

When it all ended and when we saw the rough version of the edited feature and documentary material, Branko made a remark that most accurately described my own feeling: “We’ve put the genie back in the bottle.” And that’s the story.

Why are there no other members of the Resistnace in the film?

An interesting thing about this film is that all the people who participated in its creation resist the system. They personify resistance itself. And if you are asking me about the members of the Resistance (and you are), there was an idea that Branko should visit old friends who are active officials in various parties. A lot of people agreed, but some wouldn’t dare. Then, out of respect for those who agreed, I decided to tell that part of the story through fiction.

What set of circumstances turned you, a lawyer, into a filmmaker?

As a very young man, I was lucky, or maybe not so lucky, to work in my line of work. For a while, I worked in a law firm dealing with corporate law and privatizations. I’ve witnessed terrible things. Afterwards, I dealt with international criminal law and the so-called transitional justice. War crimes, victims’ testemonies and so on. I spent some time in the Hague, following the trials. I saw Milosevic. It was both strange and sad. Seeing the man who caused so much damage in such a context. Behind the glass, in prison, defeated. Geoffrey Nice sitting across him with the shoes off so you could see his red socks. My college professor was working in Milosevic’s legal team and he asked if we’d like to meet Sloba?” Nebojsa Bogdanovic (who plays Svaba in the film) and I were there together. We looked at each other, speechless, and declined the offer, probably out of fear. Despite all the things I mentioned, probably the most important reason why I completely neglected the law studies is that in the moment when I had four exams to go, I received a scholarship for a ship with thousands of Japanese sailing around the world. Then I thought about whether to stay and study for exams or get to the ship. And of course, I got on the ship. And of course, after that journey, everything changed. I started shooting and editing. And step by step...

How did you choose other characters in the film? In reality, in what way are they connected with each other, with you, with Branko, with the revolution the film is about?

It should be emphasized that this film is an incident. It was made contrary to every rule of filmmaking. The funniest thing is that we’ve nevertheless managed to finish it. When we started making it, there were five of us in the team and almost none of us knew anything about the process of filmmaking. A friend of mine spontaneously became camera operator and then the director of photography. I’m talking about Vladimir Miladinovic Piki, one of the best photographers in Belgrade, who had just begun to play with the camera. In that first crew, Nemanja Babic, a professional film editor, provided most of the structure. He managed to give seriousness to this film and to myself also, as opposed to pamphletism I flirted with at the time. Then Vuk Maksimovic appeared, who has been some kind of friendly ghost of the film throughout the shooting, and he made some very good scenes. The rest of the team consisted of the members of my family and other close people. Branimir Milovanovic, my brother, is a professional cinematographer. Isidora Veselinovic, who took part in the filmmaking from the first day, has in the meantime enrolled at the Academy of Drama, the film direction department. So, we started like a family and the thing developed gradually. It was similar with the so-called plot. When we talked about the initial scenario, Zilnik remarked it would be nice if Branko had a friend to talk to. It was convenient that Svaba had also been in the Resistance, so he could relate to the whole story. And since Branko lived with me while we were shooting, the things we talked about at my place were projected the next day while shooting at Svaba’s place. Afterwards, we decided to add a full feature film segment with fictional characters and situations to this documentary featured part, and this stirred up the situation further. Because, for several years, I have been hanging out and working with Radovan Hirsl, who is a very authentic figure of the Belgrade underground of the 1960s. He gave the whole story a broader context and enriched it with his shamanic energy. The enormous contribution to the film was given by a professional actor Djordje Brankovic, who played the major role in the film. I must also mention Nikola Vujovic and Jelena Ilic, who played great episodes and were an important part of the whole team. And so on, there’s no person who had not devoted enormous amount of enthusiasm to the whole process. As we approached the end, the team grew larger and the whole process started getting the contours of a real film.

In your mind, dow do the peers of the former Resistance members perceive the revolution today?

Resistance had two generations. Those who were 19/20 years old and the team that made the whole movement. They were ten years older. We are now of their age and the people born in the 1990s are of our age. This goes round and round. This age favours rebellion and inarticulate opposition to authorities. This is the right age for doing such things. Except, the place where the Resistance once stood now belongs to hooligan groups that have as good and developed logistics as we had. The views of these young people are best depicted in Klip, a movie by Maja Milos. They are mostly children of pure heart, but their generation is very ideologically, aesthetically and politically confused. 

Could the film serve as a sort of reading material for this generation?

Isidora Veselinović who acts in the film is 21 years old. This film is primarily devoted to her and her generation. It should be seen in this age. And one should learn from the mistakes. Young people here are stubbornly learning from their own mistakes and this slows down the whole process of progress, which certainly goes beyond the average life of a generation. However, I tried to make a film that is positioned as far as possible from daily politics and specific events. Revolutionary Offer is a film about youthful rebellion and its consequences.

What would you like to happen to this film?

I’d like it to live and let me live. I have carried the emotion from this movie in myself for such a long time. And then I somehow decided to set them on the scene, but also to give the personal maximum in the process. So, we have mutually matured, the film and me. Mici, who plays the bank manager in the film, formulated the essential message of the film as: “You won, but let us continue competing.” Something similar was also mentioned by Boris Mladenovic who composed the music for the film. And that’s it. I admit the defeat, but I would like to look back at some things before I go on.
Technical Specifications Image / Sound
Color / Black & White   Color
Distribution format   DVD
Production country
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