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The last twelve months in the life of Dejan Stanić, a former general in the Balkan war. For ten years, he was forced to hide from justice, especially the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, on various undisclosed military bases. He finally found refuge with Slavko, an old man living in a small village in the mountains. Suffering from extreme isolation, Dejan will not only have to face a new environment and a new reality but won’t be able to escape his past.
Of course, I knew from the beginning there are going to be questions about the political side of the film. But while making it I tried to avoid any political position. War is a horrible thing. Whose fault was that the war began? Nobody knows. We still can’t find a consensus on the causes of the Second World War. What’s left to discuss are the circumstances that had been formed at that moment. There’s going to be the toughest discussion with the best experts in the field, and still we never know why Hitler had declared war on us. Was he a fool? Or not? Was he a good or a bad person? A mad man? A beast? We might be able to understand at least that. Though it can’t give us a clear picture on the actual causes of the war.
The main character of the film is the general Dejan Stanić, it is a generalized character inspired in part by the story of Ratko Mladić. Some consider him a war criminal, others – a national hero. Not only at Balkans, but worldwide. When I started working on the film, I’ve done a thorough reseach of many possible sources about the war and general Mladić in particular. They were very controversial. I can’t say that I know who he really is. That’s why in the scene of a man’s execution in the film I made it unclear who’s side is that man on. The Croats, the Serbians, the Bosnians all speak one language, they are all brothers. Religion is the only thing that separates them. Mladić is a controversial figure. He survived the war. If he had won, nobody would ever call him a war criminal. But that wasn’t important for me. I was interested if such man could have a chance for a salvation within himself. He had put his name, his reputation and the whole country on the line and he lost everything. Can he make peace with himself? If I decided to make a film about Napoleon, who spent his last six years on St. Helena Island, I wouldn’t care if he were right.
Politics is not my subject. Many people are trying to “tie” my film to the Ukrainian war. But it has no relation to my intention. The war started some six months ago, while I came up with the idea of the film in 2011, when Mladić has been arrested. I saw his picture on the Internet, and it struck me. I got interested in his 2 years on the run; nothing else has ever concerned me. Only this period can show how he deals with himself. It would be interesting to look into the last years of Osama bin Laden. How was he killed? Pinochet, when he was arrested, pretended to be ill – he got scared. What if Mladić got cold feet as well, though there is no evidence on that. In the film, I’m not portraying Mladić, but a fictional cinematic character, which I give a chance. He has little resemblance with his prototype. I’ve no intention to follow Mladić story after his arrest; he is still in Hague, a very sick man in a bad psychological condition. I wrote a letter to the Hague Tribunal asking to meet Mladić. Frankly speaking, I’m glad the meeting haven’t happened. I have nothing to tell him, and he doesn’t need this meeting as well. I’m going to try to show him the film though. I wouldn’t want to show him himself, but I’d like to show him the image I’ve got thanks to him and his story. He might recognize himself in it.
To stress out that it’s a fiction, I’ve added an extra character, whom I play myself. The film begins with a heart attack of my character. That’s only a rehearsal that stays in the film. Because a film is a fiction, and the only way we can speak about such matters is within a fiction, an interpretation. That’s why there are two characters: the director, who makes the film, and a character of this film. Don’t expect any political manifesto from me, I can only interpret a life of a man like Dejan. And the only thing I can do is to give him hope, a hope for a contact. For a meeting…