Taskovski Films has acquired world sales rights to Nataša Urban’s “The Eclipse,” which has its world premiere in the main DOX:AWARD competition at the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival (CPH:DOX).
Focusing on the events of Aug. 11, 1999, when most of Serbia’s population barricaded themselves in their homes and nuclear bunkers in fear of a total solar eclipse, the film uses the rare natural phenomenon as a metaphor for a nation’s unclean conscience about the consequences of its political choices. In the process, Urban’s documentary essay confronts her country’s wartime and criminal past, and the evil that is still on the loose today.
“It took me 25 years to start opening up about my experiences of war,” said the director in a statement. “It is the safety net of my family and life in Norway that allowed me to finally start facing the ghosts from my past.”
“The Eclipse” presents a deeply personal story for Urban, whose previous films include the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) selection “Journey of a Red Fridge” and the award-winning “Big Sister Punam.”
“I became a documentary filmmaker in 2005, when I was desperately looking for ways to disassociate myself from my home country Serbia,” she said. “I found my new identity in being a filmmaker. But eventually, even that wasn’t enough to make my life in Serbia bearable. My homeland had put me through hell, and much worse, had done unconceivable atrocities, genocide even, in neighboring countries. At one point, I had enough of it.”
Urban joined tens of thousands of Serbians who fled into exile. “We left not only to change our existence, but to become some other people,” she said. “This tells a lot about the country we left, and the state of identity we tried to relinquish.”
In “The Eclipse,” Urban reflects on her upbringing during the war in the former Yugoslavia, traveling back to collect stories and anecdotes from the family and friends she describes as the “driving force” of her film.
“We dig into our memories, confronting the demons of our wartime past, exposing the evil that our country perpetrated on our behalf,” she said. “Together we provide a picture of our wartime reality in the ‘90s. How did a modern society slip into a society governed by nationalism? How can you fight for truth and what is right when the whole society is turned upside down? What can you do, and did we do enough? Are we doing enough right now?”
“The Eclipse” is produced by Ingvil Giske for Medieoperatørene and features music by Bill Gould, a musician and producer best known as the bassist of the rock band Faith No More, and Jared Blum, a conceptual musician who specializes in experimental forms of both abstract and pop soundtrack music.
It is a film that has become increasingly urgent one month into Russia’s disastrous war in Ukraine, according to Taskovski Films CEO and founder Irena Taskovski.
“In the times of warfare and the global turmoil we live in, Nataša Urban’s ‘The Eclipse’ stands as a powerful reminder of individual and collective trauma caused by a mirror-like war machinery from the recent past,” said Taskovski. “The cyclic event of the solar eclipse she uses as a metaphor to picture a permanent destruction that refuses to end. The creative team behind the film has built a strong cinematic experience, which we are proud to represent worldwide.”
That cinematic experience presents a poignant message that is more necessary than ever in a world again riven by violence. “To me, ‘The Eclipse’ is an anti-war film,” said Urban. “The reoccurring solar eclipse, and the breakup of Yugoslavia, warn us that the postwar European peace is an illusion, that our violent history can be used to sow the seeds for new carnage and war. But how do we stop this vicious cycle? One of the ways is to look to compassion, shame, guilt, and responsibility. Hope lives in an open and honest communication. I hope this film will contribute towards that.”