Stefan Pavlović: Looking for Horses

The film received the Special Jury Award at the Sarajevo FF’s documentary competition. And before that also an award at Visions du Réel in Nyon. The first feature documentary of the director, a gem, a very original work by a young director, who surprised me through the whole film, putting texts on the screen, having a sequence that takes the viewer from the lake that is the main location of the film, to Canada, where the director lived with his family after they moved from Bosnia. The texts on the screen are informative or they express that Stefan does not understand all Zdravko says. As communication is a theme of the film – Zdravko lost one eye and most of his hearing during the war in the beginning of the 90’es, Stefan fights to express himself in Bosnian but fails most of the time suffering from being a stutter due to the many languages he knows – if I get it right.

But it does not matter, they build a beautiful friendship with the camera as the tool and they have wonderful conversations, where Stefan often asks Zdravko „what does … mean“. What do you think about this film, Stefan asks Zdravko, it will be good, is the answer. Zdravko has been living at and on the lake for 18 years in different places like at the church on the island. He is quite a character knowing how to come up with sounds that make fish come closer, he is followed by a dog, and he knows where the wild horses are. As the director puts it on his website: „Where for the fisherman the lake stands for a withdrawal from a fractured country, a land of war; for the filmmaker it precisely means the return to that broken place, the land of his parents“.

Stefan Pavlović did it all on his own. In one scene he helps Zdravko get his hearing aid correctly set in another with the camera on a tripod he films himself and Zdravko at the table, close together; Stefan puts his head on the shoulder of Zdravko in a scene of joy and sadness, a beautiful and warm moment among many in a film full of poetry, a chamber play set on a lake, a film that caress its viewer – like the horses are caressed. Documentary at its best!

The Netherlands, Bosnia & Herzegovina, France, 88 mins., 2021

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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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