“Bad Blood,” an ambitious new Serbian feature film and TV series, has become the first project from the Sarajevo Film Festival’s CineLink Drama co-financing forum to go into production since the event’s establishment in 2016.
Set in the Ottoman Empire of the 19th century, “Bad Blood” is based on the works of renowned Serbian writer Borisav Stankovic and a script written by Yugoslav filmmaker Voja Nanovic in the early 1970s while he was living in New York City and working for ABC Studios as an editor. Belgrade-based This and That Productions is producing.
Spanning four decades in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, the series chronicles an era beset by major political change and turmoil, when peasants began rising up in strength to the detriment of wealthy merchant families. It follows Trifun, the wealthy leader of the Christian minority, who, while trying to preserve his wealth and power, sets off a chain of events that causes terrible consequences for his family.
The 10-part series began shooting in August near Belgrade, where set builders erected the small town in which most of the story take place across two hectares (4.9 acres) of open land, including houses, the town square, mosques, an open market, shops and a watch tower, according to This and That producer producer Snežana van Houwelingen.
“Bad Blood” will also shoot at historical locations, including Ottoman villages and monasteries, in southeastern Serbia. The production is scheduled to shoot for a total of 84 days entirely in Serbia.
Milutin Petrovic and Goran Stankovic are directing the series, with Petrovic currently shooting the first five episodes and film, which will be based on the first three installments. Stankovic, director of the hit Serbian series “Morning Changes Everything,” will take over in October to direct the last five episodes.
The series’ international cast includes Serbian actor Dragan Bjelogrlic (“Tycoon”), Croatia’s Leon Lucev (“Men Don’t Cry”), Czech actress Sára Sandeva, Serbian actor Dejan Bucin (“Carnival Row”), Bosnia’s Fedja Stukan, Turkish thesp Tim Seyfi (“Spy”) and Kosovo’s Alban Ukaj.
The production is strictly following COVID-19 safety measures adopted by the Serbian government, van Houwelingen says. “The biggest challenge has been arranging for foreign actors to film in Serbia during the pandemic since the situation in many European countries is still not stable and travel requirements keep changing every two weeks,” she adds.
This and That is producing “Bad Blood” for Serbian National Television (RTS). The production is also supported by Film Center Serbia and MEDIA Creative Europe. The company initially presented the project at the CineLink Drama co-production workshop in April 2018 and later that year at the Sarajevo fest’s CineLink Drama TV forum, where it was pitched to leading European broadcasters and commissioning editors.
“We are in negotiation with other broadcasters from Turkey, Albania and the region,” van Houwelingen says. “We hope that the diversity of the Ottoman Empire, which covered many countries, ethnicities, languages and religions, will attract distributors from around the world.”
The “Bad Blood” feature film is set to premiere next spring, with the series scheduled to air on RTS in fall of 2021.