A Stranger belongs to that rare group of screenplays that meet all the criteria for art. It has a very specific style, which appears to be talking about nothing, but in reality talks about everything. A Stranger is a film about a little guy, an extremely nice and extremely positive person. He actually initiates the plot – the paradigm, the shape of our small lives that are full of irrational fears and balancing acts. These lives are, unfortunately, in our region, very politicized. Slavko is a fundamentally decent man, and the director was unfailingly precise in ensuring that the events in the script flowed from his character, and choices.
We used a very specific method when we worked on the film A Stranger, one which was similar to the way we work in the theatre. The screenplay for the film is fantastic, and the director Bobo Jelčić doesn’t allow anything to happen by chance. We worked very intensively and there were a lot of rehearsals before shooting. Bobo had spent a long time thinking things through; he selected the entire cast with great care, he did the same thing when he selected the other members of the team, and I think he was successful. We all communicated with each other very well. And I’m very glad that I was able to work and play with the great Bogdan Diklić after 35 years. Very often, eye contact was enough to convey meaning, sometimes we really didn’t have to use words.
DUBRAVKO PETROVIĆ BAJA – Executive producer
The most important thing for me is taking care of all the background work, dealing with problems that could derail the creative work. On this film, that meant ensuring that our film shoot – on foreign soil – was a success, and that we had enough funds to safeguard its artistic integrity. The film shoot was trouble-free – there were no problems. I can take some of the credit for this – and so can the associates who worked with us to make this film possible. Well, that’s my little reminiscence of our time in Mostar.
EROL ZUBČEVIĆ – DOP
What most attracted me to this project was the figure of the director, Bobo Jelčić. His creativity, relaxed approach and artistic courage brought to life, without compromise, this very complex and important story. He inspired me and pushed me to test the limits of my work – and the limits of film in general.
IVANA FUMIĆ – film editor
My collaboration with the director Bobo Jelčić was truly amazing. It’s easy to work with a man who has a clear idea and knows how to carry it out. I enjoyed the whole process of editing this film.
RANKO PAUKOVIĆ – sound designer
’Who is the composer?’ – That is one of the first questions I asked when I was first approached about working on this film.
‘There is no composer, Bobo does not want music in the film,’ – Zdenka, producer of the film, responded.
‘Ouch!’ – that was my first reaction. All too often, directors, especially inexperienced directors, decide they do not need music in their film, only to realize during sound editing that they have a problem. They quickly search for a songwriter who quickly composes and quickly records the score, and then of course it is not what it could have been if only they had approached the film seriously. I decided to gather my arguments and try to convince the director of A Stranger that he should seriously reconsider his decision. The first time we met was during film editing, at the screening of a rough cut. After I saw the movie I did not use any of my carefully prepared arguments. The film worked perfectly without music – and this is the first time I’ve seen this happen, in over 30 years of working in film.
MARIO IVEZIĆ – production designer
When I first read Bobo’s screenplay I realized I wanted to be a part of this story, because it is set in surroundings I know very well, surroundings that evoke strong memories and emotions. That is why it appealed to me: visualizing a story about people and places that I recognized, and a place I had belonged to, at one time in my life.
The most difficult task in preparing for the film was finding the right apartment for the main characters; we searched for a month without success, and we eventually shot the film in the first flat we had seen. This difficult and challenging designer’s task was made much easier because of my wonderful colleagues, who were a joy to work with: the producer, director, assistant director, director of photography and all other dear members of the team.
ANA BULAJIĆ ČRČEK – make-up designer
A Stranger is primarily a movie that pooled a wide range of knowledge and experience from various different creative disciplines, and the end result is a smart, intelligent film. Zdenka is a producer with whom I’d be happy to work till the end of my life, Diklić can drink more sparkling water than anyone else I’ve met, Nada is the funniest and most mysterious lady ever, and Bobo is a man of few words, but if he speaks, he is perfectly accurate.
SANJA DŽEBA – costume designer
Before this film, the last time I worked in Mostar was in 1990 on a stage play called NO (Ne), with an international team that had originally gathered in Paris in 1986. We talked about this complicated time, for many of us, in our then-united country. Years passed and the devastating war came and went. Then in 2012, to my great joy, I found myself in Mostar again, with another fascinating project: A Stranger, working with colleagues from different parts of the former Yugoslavia in a new, ‘international’ team. I enjoyed working on this film: thanks to an interesting creative process that speaks of today’s problems in the city, a wonderful collaboration with Bogdan Diklić, and an inspiring and humorous relationship with the director Bobo Jelčić. All these elements combined to connect my experiences in pre- and post- war in Mostar, which for me will always transcend the issues of different nationalities.
RADIVOJE ANDRIĆ – first assistant director
Although I have directed three feature films of my own, I also like to work as an assistant director. In recent years, however, I have done this less and less – because I’m getting older, and the job is quite physically strenuous. So these days, I work as an assistant only when I’m asked by a friend, or when the job offers a challenge, like large crowd scenes, a cavalry charge or demanding stunts and pyrotechnics. This film does not have any of that. But the screenplay was so good that I had no dilemma – I knew I wanted to do it. Of all the films I’ve worked on, this is the one where I cooperated most closely with the director and the DOP. I think we all enjoyed it.
ORIANA KUNČIĆ – casting director
There are those rare moments in a professional filmmaker’s life, where you have all the essential ingredients in one project: creative, artistic, professional, human and emotional satisfaction… I thank Bobo and Zdenka, because that’s exactly what working with them was like.