When Film Centre Serbia chief Boban Jevtic took over in 2015, documentary production funding was in the doldrums, with a mere six feature docs going into production that year. Two years later, the figure has quadrupled to 20 per year, both for 2016 and 2017, with an increase in operational budget from €300,000 to €700,000.
“I’m especially interested in documentaries, because in my opinion, in our part of the world we have a lot of stories to tell and to share,” he comments. “At the same time, the documentary genre is, from the point of view of a state fund, an excellent investment because it gives results faster than fiction films.”
The upshot of Jevtic’s higher investment in the doc form is the selection of three films in official selection at IDFA 2017, with The Other Side of Everything (Mila Turajlic) in the Feature-length Competition, Boris Mitic’s In Praise of Nothing in Masters and The Same by Dejan Petrovic in the IDFA Competition for Short Documentary. “I am very satisfied with that,” Jevtic underlines. (Turajlic’s competition pic originally world-premiered at TIFF, while In Praise of Nothing bowed at Locarno.)
In addition, Turajlic will present his upcoming project The Labudovic Reels at the Forum, while Biljana Tutorov’s When Pigs Come is selected for Docs for Sale, together with the other Serbian titles selected for the fest.
“I am in close contact with documentary filmmakers who founded the documentary association Doc Serbia, and this helped me a lot to articulate what we need, and what is the best way to provide it, especially regarding production support,” Jevtic says of his initial funding strategy. “I was able to articulate very clearly to my board and the Ministry of Culture how we could get good results, fast. I started with the education programme and workshops, and we started to send people abroad to workshops and festivals, with good results.”
“I want to put the documentary on the map of Serbian cinematography. One of the crucial steps in that was to agree contracts with the national broadcasters and slots on national TV for Serbian documentaries, which had never been done before. I hope we will be able to offer innovative documentaries in the future and that they will be successful at both local and European levels,” he continues.
“Serbia is often connected with the war, but for us the war was 20 years ago. We have a new generation who is interested in that period, of course, but also they are interested in new kinds of problems, such as transition, emigration, youth who don't want to stay in the country, LGBT issues, minority problems and social issues. I think it is the time to show to the world these films about contemporary subjects from Serbia.”