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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Croatia / Serbia

Miki Manojlović and Goran Bogdan finish filming The Uncle

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- The Croatian-Serbian co-production is an unconventional hybrid of thriller and drama with elements of absurd humour, co-directed by first-timers Andrija Mardešić and David Kapac

Miki Manojlović and Goran Bogdan finish filming The Uncle
Ivana Roščić and Miki Manojlović in The Uncle (© Sara B Moritz)

The filming of The Uncle, the first feature film by directorial duo Andrija Mardešić and David Kapac, finished last week in Croatia after 24 days of shooting in Zagreb and Zlatar. Billed as an unconventional hybrid of thriller and drama with elements of absurd humour, the film features Serbian star Miki Manojlović and Croatian 2020 EFA Best Actor nominee Goran Bogdan, as well as Ivana Roščić and Roko Sikavica.

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The film appears to be set in Yugoslavia in the late 1980s, as a family welcomes their beloved uncle, who has returned home from Germany for the holidays. The reunited family enjoys the traditional Christmas lunch until a smartphone starts ringing. It’s a sign that it is not the 1980s after all, and it soon becomes clear that it’s not quite Christmas time either, and that it is not just the served turkey that can be cut with a knife – the tension can, too.

Set almost entirely in one location, The Uncle manoeuvres between the grotesque, terror and black humour, telling a story similar to “a Christmas film in which something has gone terribly wrong”.

“The idea for The Uncle came when we realised we shared one very specific 'envy',” say Mardešić and Kapac. “As children, we never had a rich uncle from Germany who shows up once a year like Santa Claus and brings happiness and gifts, something most of our peers in the 1990s across the former Yugoslavia had had. We idealised the role of the uncle and created a perfect image of him in our heads. That picture later faded with the realisation that all of these gifts were worth only a few Deutsche Marks and that all of those wonderful clothes were actually well-worn goods from the uncle's children. This film is a kind of jealous authors’ “revenge” on all of the neighbours and their uncles who gave them a wonderful childhood. While their uncles were, hopefully, wonderful people, the Uncle portrayed in this film is not.”

The film was lensed by Serbian DoP Miloš Jaćimović, whose credits include the Venice prizewinner Oasis [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ivan Ikic
film profile
]
, which was produced by Milan Stojanović, of Belgrade-based Sense Production, who is on board The Uncle along with Ivan Kelava and Tomislav Vujić, of Zagreb-based Eclectica.

“We hit the jackpot with our DoP, whom we came to by Googling our favourite films from the region (Tilva Roš [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Barbarians [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ivan Ikic
film profile
]
), and we realised they were shot by the same person! We are especially flattered that both Manojlović and Jaćimović placed their trust in us only on the basis of the script they’ve read,” say the co-directors.

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