Bendita Films Achieves Sales Of Croatian Thriller The Uncle

Bendita Films of Spain (“The Clash”) has secured international sales rights for the twisted and exciting production “The Uncle” (“Stric”) ahead of its release at the Toronto Festival.

“We are thrilled to present David Kapac and Andrija Mardešić’s brilliant debut film, a gripping, depressing thriller with touches of humor that is sure to surprise international audiences with its disturbing atmosphere and inventive narrative structure,” said Luis Renart, CEO Sales & Acquisitions at Bendita Films.

Co-written and directed by Kapac and Mardešić, the project received a special mention from the jury in July’s Proxima strand, which has replaced East of the West at the Karlovy Vary Festival. It is the first feature film by the Croatian duo, who previously teamed up to produce several short films screened at festivals, including the post-war noir comedy Iris.

“The Uncle” is an almost claustrophobic depiction of a late ’80s Yugoslav family hastily preparing for Christmas dinner. Everything in its place and waiting for her beloved uncle from Germany, who will arrive any moment in his Mercedes. A fairly mundane task on the surface, but are things really what they seem?

The film “is a deconstruction of a typical family situation during the holidays. We have been taught since childhood that the holidays are a time when family needs to be happy and together. Perhaps for this very reason, most of our celebratory gatherings look like superficially staged, well-rehearsed plays,” the directors said in a statement.

Feigned happiness takes center stage as the mother works tirelessly on a turkey that will be eaten in minutes and the son reluctantly fidgets with the house’s festive decorations while the father is in charge. The hum of an engine in the distance and everyone stands in line, turning frowns into smiles for that familiar greeting.

As the narrative progresses, home feels smaller, the plot darkens with every breath. An uncle, adoring a captivated audience, anchors the family as the camera moves closer to the action, then pulls back to reveal the nostalgic and dated furniture of the quaint abode, hiding secrets in the fabric and likely tearing at the seams.

The uncle

Courtesy of Bendita Films

“People perceive negative events more intensely in their adaptation when they happen during the holidays, when everything has to be warm and carefree,” say the directors.

The Uncle is being produced by Zagreb-based Eclectica (1001 Nights), co-produced by Belgrade-based Sense Production, which produced Ivan Ikic’s award-winning films Oasis and Barbarians. Further support comes from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, the Serbian Film Center and the Croatian National Television.

An intimate ensemble cast is joined by popular Serbian actor Predrag “Miki” Manojlović, best known for his role in Emir Kusturica’s Palme d’Or in Cannes, “Underground”. The scenes are rounded off by film and theater talent Ivana Roščić (“Tereza 37”), Roko Sikavica (“Stop Staring at My Plate”) and Goran Bogdan (“Fargo”).

“When the producers asked us who we would imagine as an uncle in an ideal world, we told them without hesitation, Miki Manojlović,” the directors said.

They continued, “At that moment, it seemed like an impossible fantasy. However, the producers had his email address, so against all odds, they sent him the script. Miki soon responded, saying he was completely impressed by the screenplay, which was written by two young, inexperienced writers whose other work he had never seen before. The rest is history.”

Divinely twisted, turning tradition on its head, The Uncle gracefully depicts a family strained in the most personal of their daily routines. A winding and cyclical journey unfolds as each character seeks to achieve the feat of their lifetime lest they be destined to repeat it ad nauseam.

“It wasn’t a huge leap from reality to take something universally recognizable, like a family celebrating the holidays, and then tell a very dark (and sometimes funny) story within those confines,” the directors said .

“We focused on all the absurd, grotesque and bizarre elements of our own family gatherings, and it wasn’t hard to imagine how things could go very bad and very fast.”


The uncle

Courtesy of Bendita Films Bendita Films Achieves Sales Of Croatian Thriller The Uncle

Charles Jones

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