The appointment, a speed dating between victim and perpetrator

The first part of THE APPOINTMENT is pure fun, dadaism, pochade, but it’s only the beginning, a few narrative curves and we’re already in the drama. The film, just released in theaters with Teodora and already at the last Venice Film Festival, sees the return of Macedonian director Teona Strugar Mitevska (God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya), who this time stages a true story that happened to Elma Tataragic, co-writer of L’APPOINTMENT with her. This is the story. Asja (Jelena Kordić) is a single woman in her early forties who finds herself grappling with the most surreal speed dating. A table to share with a stranger, among many other identical tables and as many couples, and then many questions to answer such as: which color do you prefer? What season do you identify with or how important is sex to you? Questions repeated endlessly in search of an understanding with the occasional table mate. Soon after comes the game of ‘prisoner ball’, a formal lunch and, finally, free couple dances. And all this according to an order established by two efficient masters of ceremonies dressed in a showy leopard-print dress.
But there is something wrong with this time-tested ritual. Asja finds herself a certain Zoran (Adnan Omerović), a very thin and good-looking man with whom something could even happen as a companion assigned to her by her destiny. But the initial harmony between the two is broken by an incredible coincidence that has linked the lives of Asja and Zoran. Zoran, it turns out, is in fact a Serb who shot the woman during the Serbo-Croatian war and that perhaps he is there, not surprisingly, to make it up to you. Asja, in her turn, still lives in the shadow of that never really forgotten drama and now she is facing that enemy that she had imagined a thousand times. From here on THE APPOINTMENT declines into a real drama in which they must find a right place: sin, guilt, redemption and forgiveness.
What defines us: our ethnicity, our religion, our gender? What divides or unites us? This is a story about the precariousness of life, about chance encounters that unite the abuser and the victim, bringing the painful past back to life; it’s a story of impossible connections, love and absurdity says Teona Strugar Mitevska. And the director again: For me THE APPOINTMENT is a sort of poem and a way to celebrate the best of what was Yugoslavia and Sarajevo, the most beautiful city in the world with the most beautiful people. The screenwriter Elma Tataragić is my soulmate, she has an unparalleled collaborative strength. GOD IS A WOMAN AND HER NAME IS PETRUNYA was a personal journey for me, while this film is Elma’s personal story: the screenplay is in fact inspired by her life. The film, finally explains the director, takes place in a single space and I found myself facing a great challenge: how to film this cast of forty actors, of which only seventeen are professionals, without boring the audience? I knew it was an ensemble film and I had to treat it like a jigsaw puzzle or a cathedral where every piece is of paramount importance: one character couldn’t function without the others and vice versa. So I did six weeks of rehearsals, because rehearsals – he concludes – make it possible to organize chaos and create space for improvisation, to bring out truths from the actors that cannot be found otherwise.

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