Dusan Zoric: Love

This review is written by Mina Stanikic, young Serbian film critic, who took part at 23rd SFF as part of Talent Press.

After having his debut PARALYSES screened at the majority of regional festivals, up-and-coming Serbian director Dušan Zorić hits the international scene with his second short LOVE. This new production moves Zorić to the next level, as the film premiered at Visions du Réel in Nyon early on this year. At just finished 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival, LOVE was competing for the Heart of Sarajevo in the official student selection. Unfortunately, LOVE did not grab the Heart of Sarajevo, but it surely grabbed and gripped hearts of many in the audience.

Zorić used the trick we have already seen in Gaspar Noe’s latest film: naming it LOVE, but dealing with what, at first, rather seems to be sex.

Zorić, however, does not show endless soft porn scenes, but moves straight to the point, which turns out to be porn itself. LOVE is a documentary on porn industry in the Serbian capital, for whose questionable existence Zorić had interest, saying “I wanted to see if porn is still being made in Belgrade”. As it comes to light, porn is indeed still shot in Belgrade, which gave Zorić the chance to meet young porn actor Stefan, the protagonist of the film, whose example he uses to depict Serbian porn industry.

I will be free to divide the film’s narrative into three chapters. In the first one the director focuses on Stefan’s character and personality in a very subtle, yet efficient way, by asking questions such as “Who is your favourite Harry Potter character?”. This simple question frames Stefan in the “Harry Potter generation”, immediately making him a part of a community seen as harmless and even desirable, making a juxtaposition to his porn actor label. There are numerous similar examples, making film’s content relatable for the audience, who, as assumed, has little knowledge on personal lives of porn actors.

As the narrative unfolds, the film moves on to the porn film set, where Stefan is accompanied by a porn director and two actresses. The aesthetics of this, second, part of the film is striking – porn is being shot in a ruined house exterior on an improvised bed. Even though Zorić’s focus is still on Stefan and his relations to the rest of the porn film crew, the DOP Milan Petković manages to capture this unique surrounding that even feels somewhat indie, and attributes to the overwhelming impression of this almost absurd scene. Speaking of camerawork, it is hard not to notice the appearance of the fingers and microphone in the mise-en-scéne, but it fits in the friendly atmosphere and character’s casual behaviour in front of the camera, adding to the afterimage of the LOVE crew being fully accepted by the porn actors and vice versa. 

LOVE presents a story that develops in a logical continuum: in the last chapter Zorić moves his characters out of the natural habitat of a porn industry professional, into the crowded public spaces. Nevertheless, this does not happen without a tiny sparkle in the second part hinting where the film is heading – towards love. However, it never becomes clear what drives Stefan or his co-workers, what their motives for getting involved in the porn industry are. Further on, it seems that LOVE could easily be transformed into a feature-length film, as the viewer is left with a significant number of unanswered questions that tickle curiosity, causing the “I want more” effect. The film’s end opened to the viewer’s imagination only adds up to this effect, but also creates the possibility for the sequel, that I would be hoping for.

With this being Zorić’s first documentary, brave and interest-catching as it is, I suggest we should keep a close eye on his future projects.

Serbia, 2017, 16 mins.


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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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