FOCUS ON: THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING
Documentaries of love are the best kind. They foster critical thought without tearing down their subjects. They are capable of inducing good-humored nose-twitching even as the bickering between family members resumes. They take behemoth abstractions like national identity and show you their blood pulse.
THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING emerges in slow-motion from a fog. It is gorgeous. It spends considerable time watching the buffing of heirloom silver. It hardly leaves the apartment while setting its sights on a critical moment of globalization and state formation for the people of Serbia, once part of Yugoslavia.
Much like its fog-laden and polished-silver beginning, TOSE’s information amasses slowly over time. Director Mila Turajlic’s storytelling is like a cloud growing in density; watching it is like watching the door handle’s tarnish slowly recede to expose the fresh luster of newly collected details. We hear, through the wall, voices and dish sounds from the neighboring apartment, and thus we infer its layout. Similarly, the viewer is stealing glimpses of a most intimate setting and its people; becoming familiar, but always at a remove.
TOSE is a biopic of Srbijanka Turajlic, the director’s mother, a distinguished professor and central figure of the civic protest group Otpor! that deposed Slobodan Milošević from office in 2000. TOSE shows us that Srbijanka remains active as a public figure, but her catalyzing days, she professes, are mostly behind her. We learn that she believes this task now falls to the present generation of young people, just as it did during the uprising of the 90s.
It takes so much skill, discretion, and awareness to strike the right balance between stylistic allure and storytelling–something the much-lauded TOSE does right from the outset. Director Mila Turajlic beautifully weaves extensive archival footage from the time of the anti-NATO and anti-Milošević protests within and alongside present and past recordings of her mother’s speeches, both public and private. Because of its personal subject matter, the internal-made-external dynamic imbues this patchwork media project with a care particular to intimacy.
Among the most poignant moments is the scene in which Professor Turajlic peers directly into the camera and insists that it is the next generation’s turn to find its voice. This is the axis on which the documentary turns–the exploration of the possibility of a voice, the internal made external. We learn that the partition between the two has always been porous, and that it takes self-discipline of a kind not indexable by a census survey to accept and pursue–with an open mind–the unknowns abiding in front of, let alone behind, the wall.
THE OTHER SIDE OF EVERYTHING screens at CinemaSalem on Tuesday, March 27 at 5:45pm and tickets can be purchased at The Salem Film Fest Box Office or via the SFF website here: http://salemfilmfest.com/2018/films/other-side-of-everything