5 most notable works of Dragan Bjelogrlić

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5 most notable works of Dragan Bjelogrlić

To celebrate the airing of Black Sun, a Serbian hit series directed by Dragan Bjelogrlić, we have gathered some of his most memorable series and movies in which he took part as an actor, director, or both. Since his very first screen appearance on Dark Echoes, a 1977 American-Yugoslavian zombie horror movie, he has excelled at everything, partaking in the most important works of Yugoslavian, and later Serbian, cinema.

A Better Life (Bolji život) – 1987 - 1991

This was a legendary Yugoslavian sitcom drama and Bjelogrlić’s breakthrough as an actor. His role of Slobodan Boba Popadić, a problematic and lost high-school student seemed to be the most appealing to the audience across the region. Here we follow all the funny and tragic mishaps of Popadić’s family during the 1980s in a post-Tito Yugoslavia. Dragiša aka Giga Moravac, played by Marko Nikolić, is an archetypal family father who works as an administrator in a state-run company and is often ill-tempered, impulsive and seems to be very disappointed with his life.

The series followed all the socio-economical changes in real-time and reflected them through its major characters. None of the following series and sitcoms did surpass its popularity in the region.

The Black Bomber (Crni Bombarder) – 1992

The story takes place in a hypothetical Serbia run by a dictator, but it resembles the somber spirit of urban Belgrade during the 1990s. Bjelogrlić is in the lead and title role of Crni (translated as Black), a radio station show host that spits in the eye of that oppressive government. He is rebellious, fears nothing, and speaks his mind out loud over the microphone, which causes him problems with the authorities. Crni is in love with a rock singer, Luna, who has similar views on life, and together they try to look for happiness in this dark, hopeless and violent world.

Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (Lepa sela lepo gore) – 1996

A classic of Serbian cinema and an Oscar candidate. Based on a true story, this half-drama-half comedy takes place during the Yugoslav wars 1991-1995, and follows a squad of Serbian soldiers trapped in a tunnel. The characters of Bjelogrlić and Nikola Pejaković were best childhood friends, but the tides of war put them in opposite sides. This movie holds a strong anti-war message, describing vividly all the gruesomeness and tragedy, propaganda and brainwashing, but at the same time, does not lack comedic element.

Pretty Village, Pretty Flame was directed by Srdjan Dragojević and partly filmed in war-torn regions during the conflict itself. The cast includes some of the best actors of that period like Velimir “Bata” Živojinović, Nikola Kojo, Dragan Bjelogrlić, Nikola Pejaković and Milorad Mandić - Manda.

The Storks Will Return (Vratiće se rode) – 2007-2008

The stork is a symbol of good luck, but in this small village they haven’t been spotted for years. With a distinct signature, this popular Serbian series was Bjelogrlić’s first success as series director, producer and creator. The series follows Švaba (played by Nikola Đuričko) and Ekser (played by Dragan Bjelogrlić), two Belgrade petty criminals trying to make a living reselling stolen goods and cheap perfumes. When Švaba unexpectedly inherits a house in a village, they arrive there and start to wreak havoc.

The series was filmed and the takes place in Bjelogrlić’s hometown (Baranda) and is an audiovisual monument to a generation of young adults lost in the transitional period of post-2000s Serbia and the rest of the Balkans. It consisted of 25 episodes, including a two-part movie special.

Montevideo, Taste of a Dream (Montevideo, Bog te video!) – 2010

This is a historical drama of the events leading to Yugoslavian participation to the FIFA World Cup in 1930, in Montevideo, Uruguay. Montevideo, Taste of a Dream was a major box-office success and Bjelogrlić’s first attempt in directing a full-length feature film as an adaptation of a historical event which further on encouraged him to direct Black Sun.

It’s cheerful and optimistic tone, as well as its A-list cast consisting of almost all of the famous Serbian actors, as well as its romanticized depiction of an era makes it a must-watch, especially if you are a soccer fan also. This movie launched Miloš Biković’s career, one of the most popular young rising stars of today’s Serbian cinema.

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