Archive of films The Optimists / Optimisti
2006, 95 min
Together with his son Vladimir as co-screenwriter, Goran Paskaljević filmed a quintet of stories set in contemporary Serbia. He portrayed his heroes – human figures on a chessboard of bizarre events – with a good dose of hyperbole and black humour. The Optimists make the audience laugh and also move them to tears, winning prizes at various festivals along the way.
These five stories set in contemporary Serbia reflect the atmosphere much more than the reality of the post-Milošević era – a mix of hope and lost illusions, truth and lies, fiction and real events. Thus it isn’t easy to tell just who is offering selfless assistance, as in the first story, and who, on the other hand, is fishing around in the murky waters of their family’s and friends’ misery, as in the case of the last tale. Each one is a fragment of a mosaic, pieced together by the character of the actor Lazar Ristovski, playing five different roles, and reliably secured with an unswerving angle of vision. The director was inspired by a definition of optimism that Voltaire expressed through his Candide, namely “the mania for insisting that all is well when all is by no means well”. In the spirit of this premise, the filmmakers – Goran and Vladimir Paskaljević (father and son) – moulded their human figures with comic hyperbole and a good dose of black humour. The Optimists will make the audience laugh as well as cry, because that’s the way life is.
About the director
Goran Paskaljević (b. 1947, Belgrade), a graduate of Prague’s FAMU, is the creator of 30 documentary films and 14 feature-film productions that have met with success at prestigious international festivals. He had to leave his country in 1992 after war broke out in Yugoslavia. In 1998 he returned to make his film The Powder Keg (presented at the KVIFF in 1999), for which he received the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice IFF and at the European Film Awards. In 2001 the Variety International Film Guide named him one of the five best directors of the year. Paskaljević’s next to last movie, A Midwinter Night’s Dream, a probe into post-war Serbia, won him the Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastian IFF. His filmography also includes Beach Guard in Winter (1976), The Elusive Summer of ’68 (1976), How Harry Became a Tree (2001), and A Midwinter Night’s Dream (2004). At the end of this year the New York Museum of Modern Art will be presenting a complete retrospective of the director’s work.
About the film
Color, 35 mm
|Screenplay:||Vladimir Paskaljević, Goran Paskaljević|
|Dir. of Photography:||Milan Spasić|
|Production:||Zepter International, Nova Film|
|Cast:||Lazar Ristovski, Petar Bozović, Bojana Novaković, Tihomir Arsić, Danica Ristovski, Viktor Savić, Mira Banjac, Vladimir Jeftović|