Produced out of the Fine Arts department at Columbia University, where Croatian-born writer-director Tomislav Novakovic has been studying for a Masters degree, “Are They Still Shooting?” is a small but impassioned film that brings the conflict in Yugoslavia to the streets of New York. Though passion and some talent are evident here, pic is too small-scale to provoke much interest outside the Croatian community.
Boja (Anthony Alessandro) has escaped the bloodshed back home and lives in the Big Apple, while his brother, Mile, is in the thick of the fighting. Boja writes lengthy letters to his brother, who doesn’t reply. Mile’s girlfriend, Moshinka (Isabelle Townsend), has also made it to America, and she’s drawn to Boja, even though she’s a confirmed pacifist and he longs to get involved in the fighting by smuggling arms back to Croatia.
Plot is minimal, and is intercut with what appears to be home-movie footage shot one summer day in Croatia when the family was together and happy before the war began. There’s also a soundtrack of rousing Croatian music and songs.
It’s a pity that Novakovic, who evidently has commitment, wasn’t able to fashion his anti-war film into a more polished package, but there should still be a limited big-city audience for this modest item. It’s technically on the crude side, and performances are also rough. Pic is dedicated “to all victims of war.”