Srbijanka Turajlić, the academic-activist-politician as well as the filmmaker’s mother, stands in the middle of her heavily decorated living room, thoroughly polishing the silver keyhole of a door she has never opened. This door, which looks just like any ordinary door, represents a truly extraordinary situation: it separates the two halves of the apartment. The house, built by Turajlić’s grandfather, had been divided since the communist revolution. The Yugoslavian authorities, thinking the apartment was too luxurious, split it in half, and moved in a stranger in the late 1940s. In other words, from the get-go, it is clear this apartment represents more than a living space – it holds within its walls the tumultuous history of the city of Belgrade.
The theme of division is carried throughout the film, which takes the viewer on a journey through Belgrade’s history, past and present, mostly told through the lens of the filmmaker’s mother, a woman who spent most of her life fighting for freedom.
OVID.tv’s THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING Gives an Intimate Insight into History
The Other Side of Everything, besides being heavily historical, is also an honest and intimate insight into the filmmaker’s family life. The film is as much about her mother as it is about Belgrade’s socio-political history. In some ways, the two seem to go hand in hand, as her mother spent much of her career fighting against Milošević’s regime, which culminated in her role as Assistant Minister of Higher Education for the post-revolution government.
Srbijanka exudes charm, and, in this writer’s opinion, is a fascinating person to watch and learn from. Old footage from her past shows her standing on stage in front of thousands of people, speaking inspiring words opposing Slobodan Milošević’s regime. The crowd cheers and claps, hanging on each word she says, and the viewer almost feels as if they are among them. Usually captured with a cigarette in hand, white smoke framing her short white bob, she provides the viewer with political commentary regarding Belgrade past and present. Some of the film’s most captivating moments are precisely when we are given a seat at the table in dinners amongst friends and family, or in the living room next to the intelligent Srbijanka. One of these moments is spent in the family’s living room, in front of the television, as the latest election results are announced. The results seem to justify Srbijanka’s pessimism regarding Serbia’s future, uttered in the midst of several unsatisfied grunts. Throughout the film, she repeats that her fight for freedom has been a failure. It is in these moments that the documentary makes obvious the cyclicity of history.
It is near the end that this documentary’s central question is articulated by Mila, the filmmaker, as she asks her mother whether or not she expects her to fight for change, showing the filmmaker’s own quest is to not only honor her mother’s legacy but to understand how she wants to build her own.
For those interested in political and historical documentaries, this is a great pick.
However, if you have little to no previous knowledge about the history of the region, the film may be difficult to follow.
Director: Mila Turajlić
Writer: Mila Turajlić
Producer: Mila Turajlić and Carine Chichkowsky
To watch the film, visit the OVID.tv page for THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING.
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author: Madalena Martins
Madalena is a young writer and actress based in Chicago. She was born and raised in Lisbon (Portugal- the home of soccer and custard tarts) then moved to Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and finally made it to the United States! Her international background resulted in a deep love for languages, cultures, travelling, and food. She is also a lover of theatre, cinema, music, and literature. In her free time, she enjoys writing, going to the beach, doing improv comedy and sketches with friends, talking to strangers, and suffocating her dog with love.
Besides this, she is interested in climate activism, feminism, and queer studies, and is interested in the intersections between these fields.