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Croatian film once again at Cannes: Ognjen Glavonić’s The Load at “Director’s Fortnight”

The Load, Ognjen Glavonić’s debut feature film, a minority Croatian co-production, has been selected into the parallel section “Director’s Fortnight” (“Quinzaine des réalisateurs”) of the 50th edition of the Cannes Film Festival taking place from May 9th to 19th. The Croatian co-producer is Zagreb’s Kinorama.  

The Load is the story of a truck driver during the NATO bombings of Serbia in 1999. The driver, Vlada, has been assigned the duty of transporting a secret load from Kosovo to Belgrade, having to cross unknown territory deserted as a result of war. When he completes the task, Vlada returns home where he is forced to face the consequences of his actions. The film is based on the award-winning documentary Depth Two (2016). Both films not only deal with hidden crimes but are also, in a way, contemplations on personal responsibility following tragic events.

‘Even though it was shot before The Load, Depth Two came from researching and preparing for the feature film. So, after the screenplay for The Load was already completed, a lot of the material, testimonies, and evidence that I did not want to force into the script started to, in time, gain a voice within me, a different form than that of a feature film. The Load is a film where we follow only one character, through the course of one day, which he spends at a new job of which he is not certain what exactly it is. The script is based on real events, though much of it is also based on my own recollections, experiences, and childhood fears, even stories, things and ideas which still interest me and haunt me today,’ the director stated.

Ognjen Glavonić wrote and directed the film, the cinematographer is Tatjana Krstevski, and the editor is Jelena Maksimović. The producers, along with Ognjen Glavonić, are Dragana Jovović and Stefan Ivančić, production is by Non-Aligned Films, and co-producers are Sophie Erbs (Cinéma Defacto, France), Ankica Jurić Tilić (Kinorama, Croatia) and Pouria Heidary Oureh (Three Gardens Film, Iran). The sound designer is Jakov Munižaba, the costume designer is Maja Mirković, and art direction is by Zorana Petrov, while the film stars Leon Lučev, Pavle Čemerikić, Tamara Krcunović and Ivan Lučev.

 ‘I chose Leon by chance after watching a few good films where he excellently portrayed very different characters, and after I heard that he, at the time, was exclusively dedicated to film roles. We started working on the film three years before we started shooting. The experience, both in life and professionally, that he brought not only to his own character and the film itself, but to the actual shoot which was extremely exhausting, gave me, a distracted young director, a sense of security and intuitive knowledge that perhaps everything will be fine. On set, Pavle was quiet, pensive, dedicated, quick, sharp, intuitive, both present and absent at the same time, and I hope that some of that remains captured in the film,’ Ognjen Glavonić added.

The Load is a Serbian-French-Croatian-Iranian-Qatari co-production and is co-financed by the National Centre for Cinematography and Moving Pictures (Le Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC), France), The Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC), Eurimages and the Visions Sud Est Fund (Switzerland), and Hubert Bals (Holland), as well as the Serbian Film Centre (Serbia), AP Vojvodina (Serbia) and Doha Film Institute (Qatar). Croatian films, for years now, have continuously screened at Cannes. Last year, Dubravka Turić’s Cherries screened in the same category as Miroslav Sikavica’s The Beast the year before. Furthermore, another great success for Ankica Jurić Tilić and Kinorama was when, in 2015, along with the rest of the team from The High Sun by Dalibor Matanić, won the Jury Grand Prix in the competition “Un Certain Regard”.

The “Director’s Fortnight” runs in parallel with the Cannes Film Festival. Since 1969, the programme presents new voices in global cinematography, screening short, feature and documentary films from around the world. Throughout the history of this programme the attention of wider audiences and critiques has been captured by some of today’s most successful directors. This year’s programme will include films from Gaspar Noé, Ming Zhang and many others. 

All the details on the “Director’s Fortnight” are available here, and for more information on The Load please visit the film’s official website or Facebook page.

Cover photo: scene from The Load
(*Photo credit: Stefan Đorđević)

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