Rajko Grlic’s The Constitution has won the top awards at this year’s Raindance Film Festival, winning best film, best screenplay (Rajko Grlic & Ante Tomic) and best performance (Nebojša Glogovac).
Rajko Grlic’s The Constitution has won the top awards at the 25th edition of the Raindance Film Festival, taking home best film, best screenplay (Rajko Grlic & Ante Tomic) and best performance (Nebojša Glogovac). A film about loss of community, The Constitution, which also stars Ksenija Marinković, Dejan Aćimović and Božidar Smiljanić, follows four people who live in the same building, but avoid each other because of the differences in their assets, sexual habits, nationality and religion.
The Constitution’s inclusion at Raindance (and UK premiere) was always going to put it in contention for the festival’s top awards given its acclaim since its world premiere at the 2016 Montreal World Film Festival (where it also won best film). Since then it has won over 20 major awards including the Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film at Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Bridging the Borders Award at South East European Film Festival, and Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress awards at Milan International Film Festival. It has enjoyed successful theatrical distribution in Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.
The film, which has been lauded by critics with one calling it “a film of delicate beauty”, hasn’t avoided controversy with right-wing conservatives particularly perturbed by its themes of hate and prejudice across various subjects including gender, nationality, religion and sexual orientation. In its notes, the European Film Festival in Lecce, Italy said it is “a wonderful example of a complex story that plays with various kinds of prejudices. A heavy topic that becomes accessible through irony and light tones.”
For Raindance, Adam Samuel Court said the film “deals with a very serious matter with witty humour, underlining the sorrowfulness of the protagonists’ lives, using them to present much more complex and universal issues. An intimate atmosphere is achieved through contrasting two closed worlds which have more in common than meets the eye.”
In The Constituion we meet Vjekoslav, an aging Croatian professor and son of a prominent fascist officer whom he takes care of. At night he becomes Katarina, an elegant, beautiful woman who is tragically severely beaten by a gang of local neo-Nazi hoodlums. His neighbour, Ante, as a Serb in the police ranks, has to learn the Croatian constitution by heart to pass a mandatory exam. Their views and ways collide when they’re forced to help each other.
It’s a very topical film, says Court, adding that it is a “meticulously crafted story of misconceptions that go deep into the roots of xenophobia. The acting by Nebojsa Glogovac in his “double” role is outstanding and truly compelling, making the audiences question their own preconceptions and redefine what they considered civil liberties. Is the old constitution suitable for modern times?”
Best Director at Raindance 2017 went to Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak for Maya Dardel, a film about a famous writer who claims on NPR that she intends to end her life and offers the opportunity for male writers to compete to become executor of her estate. Hector Valdez’s Peaches was named Film of the Festival and Jason Wingard’s In Another Life, which follows Syrian refugee Adnan as he battles to be reunited with his wife in the UK, set against the backdrop of the Calais jungle camp, was named the best UK Feature.