Though it’s not easy to watch, “Diary of Insults 1993” is a riveting eye-opener on the dire consequences of the war in the former Yugoslavia and the embargo against Serbia. This small chamber drama about Belgrade’s impoverished pensioners, originally made for TV, has picked up numerous awards at local film festivals and started making the international rounds at Montreal last fall.
Though the situation it depicts had marginally improved by the end of 1994, “Diary” remains a poignant outcry in support of the war’s most vulnerable victims.
Gentle Ana (Vera Cukic) and her grumpy husband (Marko Nikolic) are dignified middle-class seniors whose standard of living fell through the floor when the war commenced. Ana is forced to deal with the long lines at food stores and the dwindling buying power of their pensions. While her husband shuts his eyes to their plight, Ana mobilizes her energy to knit caps and toy dinosaurs to sell on the icy streets.
Every time the butcher or, more commonly, her husband curses her unjustly, Ana writes down the phrase in her “diary of insults.” Little by little, the humiliation of poverty erodes the couple’s last scraps of dignity.
Pic’s TV origins come out in director Zdravko Sotra’s rather pedestrian treatment of the drama, which predictably ends in tragedy. Scripter Gordan Mihic (“Time of the Gypsies”) has a heavy hand in conveying the loss of moral values in a dog-eat-dog world. Nevertheless, the story remains engrossing to the end, thanks to impassioned perfs by Cukic and other veteran actors.