GIFFONI50PLUS - 21.31 JULY 2021



Category: Edition 2021

In a rundown Sarajevo suburb, Faruk is an orphan who lives with his ill grandmother and spends his days foraging for scrap metal and dabbling in petty crime. One day he meets Mona, a timid teen from a politically powerful and affluent family. As Mona dreams of escaping the overbearing toxicity of her home life, she seeks refuge and opens herself up to Faruk, a boy from a world entirely different than her own. 

Original Title Tabija
Category Official Competition
Section Generator +16
Tipology Feature Film
Duration 88'
Production Year 2021
Nationality Bosnia, Canada
Directed by Igor Drljača
Screenplay Igor Drljača
Director of photography Erol Zubčević
Editor Ajla Odobašić
Production Design Sanda Popovac
Costume Design Ina Arnautalić
Sound Aaron Mirkin
Music Casey Mq
Main cast Pavle Čemerkić
Sumeja Dardagan
Jasmin Geljo
Kerim Čutuna
Alban Ukaj
Irena Mulamuhić
Produced by Albert Shin, Igor Drljača, Borga Dorter, Jordan Barker, Adis Đapo, Amra Bakšić Čamo
Production Timelapse Pictures (Canada)

Igor DrljacaIgor Drljaca

He runs the production company Timelapse Pictures with filmmaker Albert Shin, and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia. His award-winning short films include WOMAN IN PURPLE (2010) and THE FUSE: OR HOW I BURNED SIMON BOLIVAR (2011), and THE ARCHIVIST (2020). His critically-acclaimed debut feature KRIVINA (2012) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and had its international premiere at Rotterdam. He co-produced Albert Shinʼs IN HER PLACE (2014). His sophomore feature THE WAITING ROOM (2015) premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival, and had its North American premiere at TIFF. His first feature documentary THE STONE SPEAKERS (2018) had its world premiere at TIFF, and international premiere at Berlinale. THE WHITE FORTRESS (Tabija, 2021), his third narrative feature, is a co-production between Canada and Bosnia-Herzegovina and his world premiere was at the 71st Berlinale as part of the Generation 14Plus competition.

Director’s statement
“In THE WHITE FORTRESS (Tabija), I wanted to make a coming-of-age romance that adopts the trappings of a fairy tale while functioning as a mystery thriller. While the film focuses on its young protagonist Faruk, and the girl he falls in love with Mona, the film is also about todayʼs post-war Sarajevo. I have a deep love for Sarajevo, where I was born and where I spent half of my childhood before immigrating to Canada during the civil war in the 1990s. I often struggle to make sense of what the city is becoming. Remnants of Communist-era cronyism have combined with an unregulated capitalism to uplift a new political class that holds all social and economic levers of power. The oppressiveness of this system coupled with lack of opportunity benefits the few and robs young people of the ability to create meaning and plan for their futures. It is a city I simultaneously recognize and in which I feel like a stranger. There was a time when almost anything felt possible in this city: it was a place of opportunity, of dreams, naïve romance, and a proud sense of multiculturalism. But those days are gone. Massive youth unemployment has contributed to an exodus of people from the city and the country. In this environment, to fall in love freely is a liability. Certain classes and groups simply do not mix. Faruk and Mona are never meant to meet. Faruk was orphaned when his mother, a talented pianist, passed away. He was raised by his grandmother, and living on her meager pension, he was not afforded many opportunities, apart from helping his uncleʼs iron picking business. Mona, conversely, is a child of Bosniaʼs new affluent political class. But while the reality of their class difference is stark, it is not an obstacle to either, until others become aware of their relationship. Both feel equally lost in a city where both the rich and the poor lack opportunities and the protection of a functional state. Some of those who cannot leave turn to a life of crime, nihilism, and violence. Both Faruk and Mona are captives of this new Sarajevo dynamic, and both lack agency to change their situation. Sometimes all one can do to move forward is to say goodbye, and this film is their farewell letter to Sarajevo.”

Timelapse Pictures (Canada) 

International distribution
festival contact
TVCO (Italy)