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Burlesque Tragedy

Burlesque Tragedy

A Feature film by Goran Marcovic

Produced by Compagnie des Films, Trois Lumières Productions

Release in France : 26/04/2000


    Belgrade, capital of former Yugoslavia. Although there is war nearby, a few hundred miles from the city, it's not often talked about, or at least not directly. It's seen in the media, particularly the misery and hunger that it brings, causing an increasing number of victims. On the face of it, everything seems normal, if somewhat strange… Nevertheless, war is there, in people's souls… A doctor, director of a Belgrade psychiatric hospital, decides to close the institution in protest against its inhumane conditions. Due to the rise of nationalism, civil war, Yugoslavia's general disintegration and United Nations sanctions, there is no longer any medication or food for the patients. All supplies go to the frontline… Vasilije, one of the patients, has an obsession: to marry Rajna. The doctor immediately announces to his patients that they're going to the ceremony. He closes the hospital and accompanies them through Belgrade's neighborhoods and streets. The doctor intends to take them back to their respective homes, or at worst, "put" them wherever someone will take them in. Everywhere they go, the patients will be cause for discoveries … for, at "normal" peoples' homes, life isn't exactly a bed of roses… Vasilije's family lives in a permanently stressful situation. Conflicts and fights are the daily grid for Milan and Ruza, Kosta and Julka, Vasilije's sons and daughters-in-law. 12-year-old Neven, Milan and Ruza's son, has been deeply affected by the home situation. When Vasilije finds his grandson, he has a hard time believing that the teenager was once the sweet boy who he'd last seen when Neven was three…Vasilije tries to tell him that he's an adopted child. At first, the child resists, then lets himself be caught in the trap and enters into the fascinating logic of madness. He begins to believe in his grandfather's crazy story. Just when the doctor renounces his libertarian utopia, deciding to bring the patients back to the hospital, a group of policeman overrun the institute, placing him under arrest. He's suspected of killing his assistant, Vera, whose body has been discovered in the river. The patients tell the story of what really happened: Tasa, the Bird, had wanted to steal Vera. In other words, they "helped" the nurse to climb onto the parapet, where she "flew away" forever… But the police demonstrate their cruel power. They teach the doctor what he should already know: mental patients are not responsible for their actions… and they bring everybody back to the hospital. During this time, police lights flashing and sirens screaming, Neven leaves the house. He's going to find a little girl, Irene, in the nearby orphanage. They take off together in a tram, heading towards an impossible future.

    Actors (11)

    Production and distribution (4)

    Executive Producers :

    Compagnie des Films, Trois Lumières Productions

    Foreign production companies :

    Multimex Films, Nova Televizia

    Co-production :

    Arte France Cinéma

    French distribution :

    LB Distribution


    Above all else, I wanted to try and explain to the world, and to myself, this thing called “Serbian madness.” What are these people like? How do their minds work? What goes on in their souls? Are the Serbs a normal people like any other, or are they possessed by some unique, apparently negative force that is more and more talked about these days? I also wanted to show all the tragic effects on people’s psyches of this ghastly war that has been tearing my country apart for so long.

    Goran Markovic, Director

    Full credits (7)

    Author of original work :

    Zoran Simjanovic

    Co-producers :

    Didier Couëdic, Jacky Ouaknine

    Press Attaché (film) :

    Thierry Lenouvel

    Production Designer :

    Veljko Despotovic

    Screenwriter :

    Dusan Kovacevic

    Director of Photography :

    Racoslav Vladic

    Editor :

    Snezana Ivanovic

    Technical details

    Feature film

    Genres :


    Sub-genre :

    Psychological drama

    Production language :


    Coproducer countries :

    Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, France

    Original French-language productions :


    Nationality :

    Majority French (Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, France)

    Production year :


    French release :


    Runtime :

    1 h 35 min

    Current status :


    Visa number :


    Visa issue date :


    Approval :


    Production formats :


    Color type :


    Posters (1)




    Montreal World Film Festival - 1995

    Montreal World Film Festival (Canada, 1995)


    Compétition internationale


    Montreal World Film Festival - 1995

    Montreal World Film Festival (Canada, 1995)


    Award for Best Direction