Slovenian film “Piran – Pirano,” an official selection of the 34th Cairo International Film Festival, received well-deserved approval from audiences. The film screening on Dec. 8 was followed by a press conference with respected screenwriter and director Goran Vojnovic?.
Vojnovic?, born in 1980 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has only been writing and directing for a short time, yet is undoubtedly making a name for himself after winning multiple awards at international festivals for his previous works. “Piran – Pirano” exemplifies sophisticated creativity and technical mastery well beyond his years, and is Vojnovic?’s first full-length feature. The title “Piran – Pirano” is the name of a southwestern Slovenian town, spelled first in Slovenian and then again in Italian.
The film begins in present day Piran, a charming picturesque town situated on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Grizzled and antiquated Bosnian World War II veteran and widower Veljko (long time Bosnian actor, Mustafa Nadarevi?) receives an unexpected visit from an aging yet distinguished Antonio (well-established Italian actor, Boris Cavazza).
Each man is unable to speak the other’s language. Antonio has come to see his childhood home one last time, while Veljko, who’s lived in the apartment for more than 50 years, is confused by the stranger. Veljko eventually recognizes Antonio and the plot travels back in time, where we observe the peculiar circumstances in which their lives became intertwined during World War II.
Young Antonio (Italian actor Francesco Borchi) is struggling to hide from the soldiers who’ve invaded his town, while Veljko (Yugoslavian-born Moamer Kasumovic?) is a young Bosnian soldier who soon arrives to Piran. Both men are interested in Anica (Slovenian actress Nina Ivanis?in) who’s in shock and grieving over the loss of her family, yet firmly fixated on revenge. While their countries are at war, the characters are bound by of the combat’s effects, and their desire to prevail.
During the press conference immediately following the screening, Vojnovic? divulged that his inspiration for the film first came to him five years ago, when a friend told him how “an old German woman had come, wanting to see her childhood home before she died.” Intrigued by the tale, Vojnovic? began researching and found many other similar stories of people displaced during the war returning home.
Vojnovic? also commented that his “own family has a similar story.” Vojnovic?’s grandmother was born in Bosnia, but later relocated to Pula, a coastal town in Croatia. While on her deathbed, after spending more than 50 years in Croatia, Vojnovic? recounted his grandmother requesting over and over again “take me home, take me home, take me home.” He explained that even after building an entire life somewhere else, many people are still so strongly connected to the hometowns and cities in which they lived prior to their displacement that they have an intense desire to return.
Although this film is set during World War II, “Piran – Pirano” is defiantly different than others set in the same era. Vojnovic?’s film isn’t directly about war; it’s about people and how they’re joined rather than divided.
“I made a film about people. They were all victims, it doesn’t matter which side they were on,” said Vojnovic?.
“Piran – Pirano” is an absolute winner. It’s genuine and real, which are two qualities rarely found in today’s films.