The Other Side of Everything

 

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The personal and the political come together in this fine report from Serbia.

 
The Other Side of Everything 

Srbijanka Turajlic

 

The opening shots of this new film from Mila Turajlić show us a foggy day in Belgrade and autumn leaves are falling. It is at once strongly atmospheric and an indication that The Other Side of Everything will be a far more accomplished work than 2010's Cinema Kommunisto in which Turajlić studied President Tito's keen interest in the medium of films. This too is a work concerned with the history of her country, once Yugoslavia and now the Republic of Serbia, but it is also an intensely personal film that gains considerably from being built around the life of Mila Turajlić's mother, Srbijanka born in 1946.

 

Much of the present-day footage in this documentary was shot in the family house occupied originally by Mila's great grandfather. The whole family were staunchly democratic in outlook and true patriots dismayed by the Communist takeover in 1945 that led to the division of the house. The regime allowed them to retain occupation of the rest but only after two rooms had been taken over and allocated as housing. The beneficiary was Nada Lazarević who would remain there until her death in 2013. However, the door to that part of the house was kept locked. In a sense that division reflected the state of the country itself not least during the period from 1988 to 2000 when the ruthless Slobodan Milošović was in power during which time Sribijanka Turajlic, a teacher and a strong presence then as now, was a leading light in the fight for democracy. A total realist, she was alert even in 2000 to the fact that the country's fresh start was no guarantee that the freedoms fought for would triumph just because Milošović had been defeated. Fifteen years on, it is apparent that her fears were well justified and she finds herself branded a traitor whose liberal stance and past support for students hostile to the old regime enable the present authorities to view her as a figure hostile to Serbia's interests.

 

The Other Side of Everything is at times demanding viewing, especially so for those not already familiar with the complex history of this part of the world over the past century. But Mila Turajlić's film captures admirably the atmosphere in the house through carefully considered images and her mother, who describes her efforts as a failed fight for freedom for which she was honoured nevertheless, is a fine commanding central figure so rooted in her country that she wants to remain in Belgrade even as others choose to leave. At the close of this film, she indicates that what happens next is down to the younger generation now, and this mother, noted for her rallying speeches, clearly hopes that Mila will speak out too. One feels certain that Srbijanka Turajlić is proud of The Other Side of Everything because it sees Mila carrying out her mother's wish, albeit in her own chosen medium and therefore not through the spoken word but by means of a film so constructed that it honours the family tradition.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring  Sbrijanka Turajlić, Mila Turajlić, Nina Turajlić, Nada Lazarević.

 

Dir Mila Turajlić, Pro Mila Turajlić and Carine Chichkowsky, Ph Mila Turajlić, Ed Sylvie Gadmer and Aleksandra Milovanović, Music Jonathan Morali.

 

Dribbling Pictures/HBO Europe/Survivance-DocHouse.
100 mins. Serbia/France/Qatar. 2017. Rel: 9 November 2018. No Cert.