Balkan movies are a real treasure! These films might seem slightly unusual for people who aren’t native to some of the glorious countries of the Balkan peninsula. However, they’re super fun to watch and rewatch! But, why exactly is that, and how can you know if you’re watching a spectacular movie?
While nothing is better proof of cinematographical greatness than your feelings for a movie, finding a good Balkan film can be challenging for non-Balkan folks. Those who aren’t familiar with the culture and history of this region might miss important telltale signs of quality! That said, we made a list of eight fantastic movies from the Balkans that are definitely worth your time!
Set in a Serbian mining town, Petria’s Wreath gives us a heartbreaking insight into the hard life of the main protagonist, Petria. Based on a real-life woman, Petria represents the vast majority of women in post-war Serbia: women who’ve helped their children and husbands succeed in life. Illiterate and faced with hardships that seem unbearable at times, Petria is a silent tribute to real-life heroes like her.
Controversial to the bone, Vegetarian Cannibal follows the story of a corrupt Croatian gynecologist who will do anything to succeed. This 2012 drama shocks the viewer with its intriguing plot and graphic scenes. The story is centered around the topics of immorality, ambition, and organized crime, with doctor Danko Babić being willing to perform abortions on high-end prostitutes. It’s definitely not a movie for the faint-hearted.
Dramatizing the Srebrenica massacre, Quo Vadis, Aida? will leave you speechless. Aida, a mother and a schoolteacher, works as a translator for the United Nations. Being in these three roles, she has a profoundly empathetic outlook on the actions of Serbian soldiers responsible for the death of Bosniak men and boys. When watching the movie, you see the tragedy unfold through Aida’s eyes and feel it with her heart.
Based on a real-life event, God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunia tells the story of 32-year-old Petrunia Eftimovska, an unemployed historian. Petrunia’s inner courage comes to light during the celebration of Epiphany when she jumps into a river to catch the priest’s cross (an Orthodox tradition). Suddenly she finds herself under the pressure of patriarchy, with men attacking her for doing the unforgivable as a woman – catching the cross.
The Beauty of Vice is a story about the clash between the worlds of tradition and sexual freedom. It’s a tale of a married couple that accepts living a life shaped by customs so strict that husbands can execute unfaithful wives with sledgehammers. The life of these young people drastically turns around once they leave their village to pursue better opportunities in the urban regions by the seaside.
Tomka and His Friends is a movie that will take you back to 1943 Albania through children’s play and soccer games. When the Nazis capture the town of Berat, they decide to set a camp in the middle of the town stadium. Tomka, a boy who loves playing soccer, and his buddies begin to think of ways to attack the Nazis, and their parents help them out.
Houston, We Have a Problem is one of the greatest Balkan mockumentaries. Its intriguing plot revolves around Tito selling the Yugoslavian space program to the Kennedy administration. The deal brings Josip Broz Tito $2.5 billion in return, an enormous amount of money that ends up boosting the economy of Yugoslavia. However, things start going downhill once the USA expresses dissatisfaction with the freshly-bought technology.
If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle is a movie about the deep psychological traumas caused by poor parenting. Silviu, a young boy, is in juvenile detention and is about to be released. However, when he learns that his estranged mother is planning to move abroad with his younger brother, his impulsivity gets the better of him. On top of that, this problematic young man falls in love.
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