69th edition. October 18-26, 2024

Paskaljević: “Populists take advantage of xenophobia to stay in power”

Despite the Fog, an “intimate” story that was born the last time he attended the festival, was premiered at Seminci

Goran Paskaljevic

23/10/2019.- On Wednesday, Serbian filmmaker Goran Paskaljević presented his latest film, Despite the Fog, in the Official Section of the 64th Seminci. The film is an “intimate” story that addresses the tragedy of refugees and the growing incidence of xenophobia in Europe through Mohammed, an unaccompanied minor, and the Italian family that takes him in.

Paskaljević’s love for Seminci is what made him choose this festival for the world premiere of his latest film. In addition to having won three Golden Spikes, he has “very close friends” in Valladolid. Paskaljević’s new feature film is inspired by the refugee crisis, “the number-one issue in Europe and the world,” but aims to tackle rising xenophobia.

“Populists take advantage of this issue to stay in power,” warned the filmmaker. He recalled that it was during the film’s shooting that Matteo Salvini took office only to end up falling “because of his fascist ideas.” Paskaljević explained he decided to set the story in Italy because it is the country that “endures the most” the arrival of immigrants, owing to the existing inability to share and coordinate this tragedy with other countries.

“As a European, I always wonder if I have a right to make a film critical of Europe, but I think I am pro-European and that I do have a right,” said Paskaljević. He also mentioned the younger generations, some of whom, in addition to being strongly attached to their mobile phones and new technologies, live in nationalist atmospheres and copycat their parents’ attitudes. Paskaljević also talked about religion, which sometimes offers “double” messages of solidarity and warning about the presence of refugees.

“A metaphor for the xenophobic fog’

The filmmaker, who has just come back from China, also explained at the press conference that the title of the film is a “metaphor for the xenophobic fog,” as well as another example of his rejection of the atmospheres created in these environments when dealing with realities like the ones portrayed in his work. That is why he changed the original title, My name is Mohammed, to the current one, knowing that Despite the Fog is a better description of the message he wanted to convey.

As a matter of fact, this film was born at Seminci three years ago, when the director was taking part in the festival as a member of the jury. It was in Valladolid that he became familiar with the story of what Italy is going through regarding this issue. Although he did not know for sure if he would be able to find the funding he needed, he managed to get the project off the ground.

The plot of the film unravels as Valeria, the protagonist, who decides to adopt Mohammed years after losing her own son, evolves. Her desires, together with her memories, give a certain “intimacy” to the story, in turn portraying another reality — how many families are in disagreement when it comes to these issues.

Besides, when he was asked about what motivates him to persevere in the film industry, despite how difficult finding funding is, Paskaljević spoke clearly: “What would I do if I didn’t make films? Shooting films is my life. I get bored otherwise.”

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