Belgrade International Film Festival
"Queen of the Night” [Croatian film]
(Branko Schmidt, director)
Review by Radmila Djurica
SPOILER ALERT: Important plot details revealed

Branko Schmidt is part of a new generation of Croatian film directors, a generation that started their careers just as former Yugoslavia fell apart. No matter the politics, his films are known to a Serbian festival public just as they are to a new Croatian audience. He is the brand new name in politically independent Croatia, a young, recently formed country. His latest film, Queen of the Night, won Best Producer Award at Pula's Film Festival 2001.

Queen of the Night is a gentle and smooth film about nostalgia, with a strong political connotation, reviewing the past communist regime in Yugoslavia, in 1968.

The main character is a young, attractive river rower, Tomo. As the best rower in town, Tomo has the honor to race in front of former Yugoslav President Tito. But after his hard work and training, he finds out he can not row because of medical problems. After one serious pain attack, young Tomo ends up in the hospital. Although the doctors forbid him to participate in the rowing competition, local politicians do not allow Tomo to give up because of Tito’s visit.

In the meantime, after his personal failure with his girlfriend, Tomo visits a local “queen of the night,” a prostitute who heals his physical problem with patience and with a one-night stand. At the same time, Tomo’s friend gets the "Tito Welcome" banner dirty; but for that, instead of Tomo’s friend, Tomo’s father ends up in prison. After a night in prison as a political suspect, Tomo’s father dies from a police beating. The morning young Tomo finds out his father died, he wins the big Welcome Tito Rowing Competition, although Tito fails to show for the local competition.

Schmidt successfully portrays 1960’s nostalgia for former Yugoslavia. He portrays the time perfectly, through costumes and the portrayal of people’s ideology and way of living at the time, showing no mercy for the political reality of the ‘60s. The reality that only survivors know -- his own reality. This is very aesthetically clean movie. Well done, Branko Schmidt.
















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