Humour is a funny thing. What can have one person in fits of laughter can leave another entirely dumbfounded. Add cultural and social differences and the recipe often falls flat, as evidenced by the number of hit UK TV comedies that have failed to survive a trip across the pond.
As a case in point, take the misjudged US version of the phenomenally successful UK sitcom Gavin and Stacey, which was reportedly put on the back burner after the social comedy nosedived stateside.
Whereas the written word can be translated well on the page, if the translator is worth their salt, films can often find it more difficult to find an audience abroad.
Comedies have any even harder job to be accepted across borders. It is not surprising that one of the most successful comedy crossovers, Mr Bean, is devoid of dialogue that can be lost in translation.
That is my considered opinion after many months of working as Associate Producer on TESLA (@TeslaTheMovie), the Balkans’ most talked-about film, which will shoot in Serbia and the United States, in coming months.
The phenomenal reaction to our planned film points to TESLA being an international milestone in the legacy of the Serb scientist. It will detail the life and works of Nikola Tesla, showing a man who was one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century.
As well presenting Tesla as a great scientist, the film will highlight Tesla as a revolutionary thinker and humanitarian. It will also show Tesla as a man who has been wronged by history, sidelined by the manipulations of men in power.
A band of perky Americans with a love for everything Balkan took on the might of brass giants when they made a pilgrimage to the tiny south Serbian town of Guča to compete in the annual music festival. Thankfully, they took a US film crew along to record this meeting of minds over a shared love of trumpets and drums. The resulting documentary, Brasslands, follows Zlatne Uste, America’s foremost Balkan brass band, as they prepare to compete in the 50th anniversary of the world’s largest trumpet competition.
Brasslands follows this 12-piece band of enthusiastic American-born musicians from New York, as they travel to Serbia to be the first Americans to compete at the renowned Guča festival. For one week of every year, this otherwise insignificant Serbian town explodes with the riotous sounds of half a million brass music fans as bands compete in the world’s biggest trumpet contest.
The Serbian Orthodox Church and right wing extremists have had their way: Belgrade Pride Parade has been banned by the Serbian Government for the second year running. Belgrade Pride has attracted a great deal of attention again this year, and not for good reason. Even before the Serbian Minister of the Interior knelt down to the church and extremists and banned the Parade, fear was mounting that alleged security issues would be used as justification for the government’s submission.
As well as the Church and some family groups who are vehemently opposed to a gay lifestyle, right wing extremists had been making their jaundiced opinions and intentions entirely clear. But threats of demonstrations should not be justification for a government ban on people exercising their legal rights to gather peacefully in a parade – a rights that has been recognised by the Serbian Constitutional Court.