Sjaj u očima

Serbia, Montenegro


A beautiful and bittersweet romantic comedy set in mid 90s Belgrade.

The film tells the story of Labud, a young student set adrift on the tide of refugees created by the ethnic strife in the region, and Romana a beautiful girl from the wrong side of the ethnic divide who meet and fall in love as displaced people in Belgrade of the mid nineties.

As they fall in love so the "ghosts" of their past visit them and try to keep them apart.

After a series of hilarious events in which the incorporeal attempt to interfere with the lives of the corporeal - love conquers all.

Pure poetic surrealism with a Balkan flavour.

Director's Statement

In the early 90s I was offered a lectureship in the US. I accepted it and went on to complete it with success. However, I felt like a fugitive, like some sort of "voluntary refugee". I left behind my mother, my home, a country that was falling apart, wars, friends, my flat and my career as a film director. Although I formed a number of new friendships and had a decent life — I was lonely. During my walks across New York I noticed that I had begun having fictional conversations with all the people I had left behind in Belgrade and Yugoslavia, including my late father who died years ago. I looked at the world around me through new eyes and saw new people, films, shop windows, landscapes that I thought they would like. Sometimes I even found myself acting on the advice that they may have given me had they been real.

Meanwhile, I followed the increasing lines of refugees from all over Yugoslavia on TV. These survivors of ethnic cleansing were wandering from one part of the country to another, carrying with them memories of their past lives. I felt very close to them, although I was an entirely different kind of refugee, one surrounded by comparative luxury.
My thoughts on refugees went even further. The modern world was actually full of them. I realised that nearly every big city in the world was full of people who spend their lives far away from their homelands in new surroundings. In that sense, my hometown of Belgrade had become, like London, New York, Paris, Prague and many others — a place full of people unused to it. Even though people born and bred in big cities, including Belgrade, often look down on refugees, they are the necessary strength that protects these places from degeneration and decadence. Perhaps refugees and migrants, despite the sorrow and the surface primitivism that they carry with them, bring the city health and new hope. That is how it all started.

Director's Biography

Srdjan Karanović graduated with an MA from the Faculty of Film and Television Arts (FAMU) in Prague in 1970. His works include eight feature films, over 70 documentaries, as well as a number of television dramas and series, including THE RECKLESS YEARS in 1975, officially declared as the best TV series ever made in former Yugoslavia, and LOOK AT ME UNFAITHFUL WOMAN in1974, critic's choice as one of the ten best TV films ever made in former Yugoslavia. Srdjan's films have been shown at all the major international film festivals around the world. He wrote and co-wrote screenplays for all of his TV and theatrical films.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Srdjan Karanovic

Written by: Srdjan Karanovic

Produced by: Zoran Cvijanovic, Mike Downey, Milko Josifov, Sam Taylor

Cinematography: Radan Popovic

Editing: Branka Ceperac

Production Design: Goran Joksimović

Costume Design: Saša Kuljaca

Original Score: Zoran Simjanovic

Sound Design: Vladan Koki Korac

Cast: Boris Komnenic (Professor Jablan), Senad Alihodzic (Labud), Ivana Bolanca (Romana), Jelena Djokic (Vida), Milena Dravic (Happy Millenium proprietor), Gorica Popovic (mother)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2003