Directed by Igor Drljaca
Canada / Bosnia / Herzegovina, 2012
Krivina is a film about the past that, refreshingly, does not take you there. I mean that phrase in the literal sense; the Bosnian War touches everything in this film, but the film never takes us back there. It offers no extended flashbacks to the war, no big reveals, and no straightforward explanations. Miro (Goran Slavkovic, Zone of Separation), an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia who lives in Toronto, can only attempt to make sense of the war with the tools of the present. The present seems inadequate to explain, and overwhelmed by, the past, but such is history in Krivina. It can be a bit like staring into a dark pool. An uncomfortably placid surface belies startling and terrifying depth.
Reporter Robert D. Kaplan titled his travelogue Balkan Ghosts, and whilst the book itself is not terribly insightful, the title certainly is. In the Balkans, history casts long shadows. They create the contours of the place Miro returns to as he searches for his old friend Dado, a war profiteer ostensibly missing for two decades but still—reportedly—sighted regularly. The sense of place in Krivina is oddly contradictory. Cinematographer Roland Echavarria creates a series of striking, if not beautiful, panoramas of places that many of us only know, unfairly, as war zones. His other shots are similarly bold, though usually with a dark palette, and the film’s picture is complimented by its enormous and immersive auditory presence.
However, Miro’s rootlessness permeates the film. As we follow Miro from Toronto and back through Europe, we’re sometimes told where we are (or were), but often not. Borders exist, but we’re unsure of their location, or ours. Even driving down a colourless highway in Toronto can look like elsewhere. Miro’s friend opines, “Americans. Canadians. Same Shit. Capitalists.” Our uncertainty increases when the characters of Krivina are unsure of each other, which is often. They only rarely look each other in the eye, more frequently looking at the same point on the horizon, or only appear as voices set over the landscape.
Though director Igor Drljaca has been present at TIFF in the past (in the short films category), Krivina is his debut feature, and an intriguing one at that. Krivina is contemplative and unafraid of ambiguity. It demands a similar audience.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6th to the 16th. Visit the festival’s official website here.
Krivina plays on the 9th and the 11th. Visit the film’s TIFF page here.