Watersports, young love and the natural beauty of Montenegro share the screen in the frothy rom-com Biser Bojane, which opens across the Balkans on 16 February.
The latest film from director Milan Karadžić features internationally acclamed Serbian actor Slaven Došlo in a light-hearted story of summer love and family drama set in some of Montenegro’s most stunning landscapes.
Biser Bojana is Slaven’s first film of 2017, a year in which the popular Serbian actor hopes to take on his first English-language role.
In Biser Bojane, the award-winning actor from Sombor plays Đorđa Popović, a sporty young Belgrade doctor, Slaven explained.
“Djordje was raised by his grandmother in the urban surroundings of Belgrade. But he is not entirely a town person. He loves bird watching and being alone in his thoughts.
“He loves his grandmother, although she is putting a lot of pressure on him to change and be more open to other people, especially girls. He is coping with it all quite well, but everything changes when he realises that his grandmother is not the only family he has.
Đorđa’s father (Milutin ‘Mima’ Karadžić) is a middle-aged jewel thief. On release from prison in Trieste he returns to his family in Ada Bojana, Montenegro. There he meets Đorđa – the son he gave up when sent to jail – and clumsily attempts to make up for lost time.
“We follow Djordje on his journey to meet the father he thought was dead,’ said Slaven. “During that journey he meets his first love, deals with fitting into his strange new Montenegrin family, and reconnecting with his father despite all the differences between them.”
While in Montenegro, Đorđa meets and falls in love with Lola (Vanja Nenadić), a local student, while his jailbird dad tries to rebuild a relationship with him. For Slaven, this part was easy.
“Vanja is a wonderful young actress,’ said Slaven. “We share our home city of Sombor so we know each other very well. For a long time we were in the same group at our drama studio in Sombor so it isn’t our first time to act together. That made it easy and a lot of fun to shoot with her.”
As well as the farcical comedy and soap-style family drama familiar to fans of the director’s successful TV series Budva na pjenu od mora, is the love story between Đorđa and Lola gives opportunity for lingering scenic shots of sunsets and swimming in the idyllic surroundings of Montenegrin beaches and lakes.
“We were shooting this movie for about two months, mostly in the amazing setting of Ada Bojana,’ said Slaven. “Vast sandy beaches and the most beautiful sunset in this region, combined with the great energy of the crew and good leadership of our director Milan Karadžić made this shoot look like a long holiday. It isn’t always like that on set, believe me.”
Filming involved Slaven learning to kite surf, which wasn’t always as easy as it looks.
“I was trying to learn as much as I could but, because of the wind and a lack of time, even now I can barely say that I’m on beginners level,’ said Slaven.
“In spite of that I became really interested in kite surfing. I would like to fully experience that freedom of riding the sea.
“I hope we will shoot more footage for a TV series based on the movie so I will have more time to try to learn what I now know to be a difficult and tricky sport. Falling on your face in the sea is always fun!”
Tender young love, soft-toned camerawork and glossy kite surfing scenes should satisfy the popcorn appetite of the film’s target audience as much as it will please Montenegro’s residents and tourist chiefs.
“Montenegrin people are famous for their hospitality and we were well accepted and welcomed everywhere we were shooting,’ said Slaven. “I was amazed how beautiful everything is because I haven’t been to Skadar Lake or Ada Bojana before.
“Also, it is quite a nice thing to be able to jump in the sea after a hard day of shooting.”
Birds flock to Slaven Doslo
To capture the natural beauty of locations such as the Danube, Budva, Ada Bojana, Ulcinj and the stunning Skadar Lake, filmmakers used helicopters and drones.
The filmmakers and Montenegro’s Ministry of Culture hope that such cinematography will allow the movie to be a significant tourist draw to the country. Their message is clear: Montenegro is an area of unspoiled natural beauty with a lot to offer fun-seeking young travellers.
“Skadar Lake is one of the most ecologically valuable areas in our region,’ said Slaven. “While the needs of the local economy demand that the region should be sensitively promoted for appropriate tourism, it must be diligently protected, so that the landscape and its wildlife can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
It isn’t just film fans who seem to follow the young star wherever he goes. Birds flock to him in this film: eagles in Belgrade, herons along the Danube, pelicans on Skadar Lake and flamingos on the salt pans of Ulcinj all seem to follow his character.
TV series to extend life of feature film
As is common in the Balkans, the intention is for the film to be followed with a 12-episode TV series using more of the footage shot last summer, plus new material to be shot on location.
At its heart, Biser Bojane is an entertaining feelgood film with an attractive young cast to mirror the breathtaking locations. It’s audience should get plenty of what they want from his film.
Biser Bojane was written by Bojan Babic, Vladimir Djurdjevic and Stevo Koprivica, and is delivered by MM Production Montenegro and Belgrade’s VisionTeam.
“The director and I shared a vision of the movie,’ said Slaven. “We had a mutual understanding for the parts that we play inside the large film crew. We talked a lot about it and that really helped to ensure that we all enjoyed doing our jobs.”
Further cast members include Mladen Nelević, Dubravka Drakić, Hristina Popovic, Branko Djuric Djura, Emir Catovic and Nevena Ristic.
Biser Bojane opens in selected cinemas across the Balkans on 16 February.