The Load (2018)

Far away, behind the darkened Kosovan hills, bombs fall […]. The rumble and crackle sounds out a moment later, and it’s indicative of Serbian director Ognjen Glavonić’s ruthlessly rigorous approach to his austere debut fiction feature: The fireworks are never in the foreground. Instead, we follow a small truck wending its way down the hillside. […] This is Kosovo in 1999, when the NATO bombing campaign has been going on so long that it’s become part of everyday life […].

This thriller-ish setup, in which Vlada [powerful Croatian actor Leon Lučev […]) must journey through treacherous territory to deliver a sensitive load, makes obvious reference to Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic The Wages of Fear (or William Friedkin’s remake, Sorcerer, if you prefer). But after the initial drama […], it unfolds very differently, as a willful anti-thriller. […] The story unfolds not through ratcheting tension or life-and-death stakes but through an accretion of tiny, humdrum moments – the rolling of a marble […], the odd detail of a lollipop stuck in a stray dog’s fur.

It is in the very banality of this day in the life of a Serbian trucker that this impressive new filmmaker illuminates a painful truth that inculpates more of us than we’d like to believe: Ignorance of atrocity, whether it’s an effort of will like Vlada’s, or inadvertent like the younger generation’s, does not make you innocent of it.

Jessica Kiang, Variety

  • Orig. title: Teret
  • Language: Serbian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Distribution: New Europe Film Sales
  • Cinematography: Tatjana Krstevski
  • Editing: Jelena Maksimović