"The Red Colored Grey Truck" Love Across Barricades By Dubravka Lakic

in 55th Berlinale

by Dubravka Lakic

At this year’s 55th Berlin Film Festival was Aleksandra Balmazovic, a recipient of the Golden Bear as one of the Shooting Stars in 2004. The actress from Slovenia plays the leading role in The Red Colored Grey Truck (Sivi kamion crvene boje) directed by a Sarajevo-born Belgrader — Srdjan Koljevic, a film which recently won the Hessen Film Award for the best German film in 2004 in Frankfurt. Europe has truly become a global village, and the Berlin Festival is an ideal place to see this small film for those who have missed it.

The ones who have already seen it in Serbia and Montenegro could say the following: It is easy for foreigners to have a good laugh while watching The Red Colored Grey Truck, the work of a debutant director, but quite an experienced screenwriter, Srdjan Koljevic (as a writer he had two films at the Berlin Film Festival). Because, foreigners never manage to understand who was who in the civil wars in ex-Yugoslavia, which is partly what this film is also about. ‘Partly’ because the start of inter-ethnic conflicts, which spread throughout Yugoslavia in the 1990s, is a wisely chosen mosaic-type framework for an unexpected, but humorous romance between a Bosnian Serb, color-blind and a passionate stealer of Mercedes-Benz trucks, and a young Belgrade girl rocker, circumstances of which happened to bring them together on the highway leading to the Italian border.

Thus, we have quite a firmly established 95-minute road-film, whose story is set mostly in the driver’s cab, but with the whole thing never for a moment being either cramped, or boring or non-dynamic. He has succeeded in a film sub-genre, which many more experienced and better known directors than Koljevic have tripped on.

The role of the Belgrade rocker, the ‘perky’ Suzana, with an affinity for ‘grass’, was given to Slovenian actress Aleksandra Balmazovic. She played it bravely, with absolutely no accent to the very end. The fact that, at the beginning and in the first part of the film, her Suzana does not behave like a typical Belgrade girl, is not Balmazovic’s fault. This is a problem of Koljevic’s, the screenwriter, born in Sarajevo and a newcomer to Belgrade, problem detected not only in this latest film story. Fortunately, as the film develops and as the full seriousness of the situation starts falling into place like pieces of a mosaic and the drama grows outside the truck, and as the rocker’s relationship with color-blind Ratko becomes deeper, Aleksandra Balmazovic is increasingly relaxed and more convincing in her acting.

She, undoubtedly, found strong support in her partner, Belgrade actor Srdjan Zika Todorovic, who is so brilliant that he could have easily carried the whole film by himself. The role of Ratko, a simple, kind-hearted Bosnian, a non-malevolent thief who does not see colors, so the world around him seems better and nicer, was, we are convinced, written for him. It is unforgettable.

In The Red Colored Grey Truck, where only the landscapes of the former country are appealing, its inhabitants verge on physical deformity, but, fortunately, even the most negative among them is very likeable. Koljevic, the screenwriter, also offers a series of well-motivated miniature characters, while Koljevic, the director, has chosen the actors impeccably. For instance, Bogdan Diklic in the role of a monk with a Kalashnikov, Dragan Bjelogrlic in the role of a war profiteer.

This film, imbued with the emotional sounds of the accordion, also boasts the contribution of cinematographer Goran Volarevic, costume designer Nebojsa Lipanovic, and editor Marko Glusac who maintains the dynamics. The author has dedicated The Red Colored Grey Truck to all those who see things differently. And such are, fortunately, numerous. Perhaps at some new festival as well.