Jugofilm [Yugo Film] (1996)

Jugofilm is a movie by Goran Rebic, starring Merab Ninidze, Ljubisa Samardzic, Tamara Simunovic, Michael Jovanovic and Wolf Bachofner.

A Serb emigrant family in Vienna: one of the two sons, Sascha (Merab Ninidze) goes back to Yugoslavia to pick up the grandmother since tensions are rising. But before they can get back, war breaks out and Sascha gets conscripted. About a year later, he manages to return to Austria, with a Bosnian wife, Suza (Tamara Simunovic) and a whole lot of war baggage. He thinks that he will be safe in Vienna, but he finds that the Yugoslavian conflict is also happpening in Austria – and in his family.

Jugofilm is a strong movie. It tells a good story and it tells it mostly well. But I really didn’t like the ending.

The film is narrated by Sascha’s little brother Milan (Michael Jovanovic). That way, their relationship takes center stage without you even noticing. And it’s wonderfully done. Milan’s adoration and glorification of Sascha, the love they show each other… it works perfectly.

I also think that Rebic captures the immigrant culture very well. At least, what I as an outsider perceive and picture it to be. Like the way the Yugoslavian conflict and nationalism seem to grow even more important when you’re not there anymore.

Rebic uses one big metaphor he establishes in the beginning (when Milan tells of a dream he had where he’s falling and then Sascha swoops him up and they fly away) and he returns continuously, but unobtrusively to it [resulting in some fantastic shots from the top of on of the Flak towers in Vienna]. I think that all of that was meant to foreshadow the ending but that doesn’t really work out – instead that ending sticks out like a sore thumb.

But that doesn’t take away from the poignancy of the rest of the film, the wonderful performance by Merab Ninidze or the slow uncovery of what really happened to Sascha in the war. [SPOILER] I quite liked that Rebic didn’t resort to huge violence here, that Sascha did not turn out to be a murderer or an innocent bystander, instead showing that even “small acts of war” are acts of war and end up being incredibly hurtful. [/SPOILER]

Summarising: One of the better films Austria has to offer.

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