Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Country


Sretna zemlja; Documentary, Croatia, 2008; D: Goran Dević

The film follows two poles of extreme opposites - right and left - on two bus excursions. In one, it follows a group of nationalistic neo-ustashas and their heirs who take a bus from Zadar to Bleiburg, to commemorate the Bleiburg massacre. On the other, it follows a group of old partisans and their heirs who take a bus trip to Kumrovec, to celebrate Tito's birthday and lament how life in pseudo-Communist Yugoslavia was much better. Despite the fact that these trips were filmed on different location and time, they both overlap on some issues, mostly with how the bus drivers treat them like little children because they are afraid they will be late or how they both rigorously defend their political beliefs.

In "Happy Country", director Goran Devic achieved another absurdly funny documentary that works as a satire on human stupidity. Supposedly, when it was shown on some Dutch film festival, the viewers asked: "Wait, there are two buses?", displaying how it was hard to distinguish those two groups. The film is abundant with surreal-humorous moments: two sexy ustasha girls pose dressed all in black (one even wearing a black short skirt); a fly is walking on the photo of dictator Ante Pavelic whereas the film even accomplished a parallel montage of two similar rants - in one, a 90-year old ustasha is talking this to his supporters gathered around him: "Only 2-3.000 people died at Jasenovac. But they were all terrorists!" The film then jumps to Kumrovec, where an old partisan says this into the camera: "Only 17 people died in Bleiburg! And of those 17, it is unknown how many were killed by the British, how many killed themselves and how many died from a heart attack!" You listen to those monologues and can't believe what these people are taking about, but Devic followed the documentary rule and delivered a neutral film, leaving everything for the viewers to figure out. Though, one common theme is clear: these people are stuck in the past and cannot live in the present, which tells something about the lack of society to move on.

Grade:++

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