May 4, 2018 Faces

How ‘Advertising Slaves’ Made Serbia’s First Sci-Fi Hit

Director Lazar Bodroza recalls the leap of faith he took to make ‘Ederlezi Rising’, Serbia’s first-ever sci-fi film – and an unexpected hit with fans of the genre.
Lazar Bodroza and Stoya on the set of Ederlezi Rising. Photo: Courtesy of Lazar Bodroza

Srdjan Garcevic

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Lazar Bodroza shot to the top of the Serbian film scene earlier this year after directing “Ederlezi Rising”, the first Serbian sci-fi film and an unlikely success, given that it is in English and the film’s synopsis reads like a pulpy exploitation movie.

Adapted by Dimitrije Vojnov, an established Serbian screen-writer, from a 1980s short-story by Zoran Nesković, the film focuses on the relationship between a lonesome Yugoslav astronaut, Milutin, and Nimani an android forced on him by the Soviet-style Ederlezi Corporation, to keep him on track (and entertain him) on his mission to “install” a new ideology on a remote capitalist planet.

Set in the 22nd century, the main roles of Milutin and Nimani are played by Sebastian Cavazza, an acclaimed Slovenian actor, and Stoya, an American porn actress and columnist of Serbian origin.

Despite the risqué topic and modest budget of around 350,000 euros, Bodroza’s deft handling of the topic of love and toxic masculinity, as well as its atmospheric visuals, have made the film an artistic and popular success.

Rather than unsuccessfully aping blockbusters like “Star Wars” or “Blade Runner”, Bodroza took his cue from indie sci-fi films like “Another Earth” and “Beyond the Black Rainbow” on how to make an eerie universe on a tight budget and tell a powerful story.

“Ederlezi” won the best film, best director, as well as best actor-actress awards at the Belgrade Film Festival, FEST, in early March.  Although its global theatrical run is set to begin in early 2019, it is already showing on the international festival circuit and making waves, especially among sci-fi enthusiasts.

The film won the Cineplexx Distribution Award at Vienna’s “Let’s CEE” festival of Central and Eastern European film, was well received at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival and is to be shown at Brazil’s Fantaspoa film festival.

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