Writer/Dir. Ognjen Glavonić | Drama | 98’
Ognjen Glavonić won various awards for Depth Two, a documentary about the grim discovery of war graves in his native Serbia. THE LOAD is his debut drama that fought its way out of the country inspired by the region’s 1999 NATO onslaught to tell another story from this harrowing period of Balkan history, a quietly devastating one that haunts with its slow burning revelation looming tragically out of the dreary landscape of longterm war.
This is a place full of dour-faced officials going through the motions in a country were hope has been washed away with the winter rain and bombs still cascade in the distance like incendiary stars. A few roadside blossoms tell us spring has arrived and tired-looking truck driver Vlada (Leon Lucev) is making his daily grind towards Belgrade from Kosovo with a load locked in his beaten-up lorry, the contents unknown. His instructions are clear : no stopping or diversions, he must keep a low profile until he reaches his destination.
On his way the journey starts uneventfully but at a crossing a smouldering car crash has blocked the the route to the capital. And a rather blasé teenager hitchhiker Pava (Pavle Čemerikić) offers to show him the way to his destination, tempting Vlada to bend the rules. As it happens Pava is clueless about map-reading, but doesn’t really mind that he has let Vlada down. Clearly, he represents the younger generation, shielded from the coldface of war from protective parents like Vlada, who, inured to disappointment and setbacks, motors on resigned, his face etched with the gruelling inevitability of his lot and eventually the pair start to bond.
The tone is brooding, morose and vaguely doom-laden as the men push on framed in close-up and on the widescreen by Tatjana Krstevski whose superb washed out visual also featured in Depth Two). The two men drive on until Paja blithely announces his departure to hitchike to German and look for better things. But nature of his Vlada’s business requires him to be responsible and slowly the gruesome truth dawns making the inevitable realisation all the more haunting. MT
WINNER BEST DIRECTOR | MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL 2018