Ana Lečić, Serbia's young acting hopeful and daughter of actor and former minister of culture, Branislav Lečić, was brilliant in her role of Božica, one of the three overseers at the Stara Gradiška concentration camp.
Ana revealed for Kurir how she had prepared for the shoot and how she felt as she watched the harrowing scenes on the television screen.
How did you end up collaborating with Predrag Antonijević and being hired for the film Dara of Jasenovac?
"Sara Marinković was in charge of casting, so she got to me through a colleague of mine, Pavle Popović, and invited me to the casting."
Actors don't often get a chance to play the role of a villain. You are playing Božica and your scene closes the film. What did you feel as you put yourself in her shoes? How did you relate to and defend her actions?
"I find it very inspiring to play characters that are radically different from myself. Božica was a great acting challenge – above all emotionally and psychologically. In order to prepare, I watched documentaries dealing with Jasenovac and listened to a number of victim testimonials. Afterwards, you go to bed with those things on your mind because you cannot process them easily. I also had sleepless nights and a sort of a horrific fear that creeps into your heart. In my memory, the shoot was anything but easy, but at the same time it was a cathartic experience in which all personal discomfort was put aside for a higher purpose."
What is your most vivid memory from the shoot?
"Without a doubt, all the children in the film. The naturalness of their play and a full understanding of their task still fascinates me. We should learn from them. Also, Tanja Kecman and Jelena Mur, my colleagues that I made great friends with, and stayed in touch with after the shoot ended."
What was it like watching the film on the big screen?
"It was a harrowing experience. I saw it on television too, but the experience of watching it at the film theatre was much more intense."
The film has recently sparked a lot of interest across the world. It has been the butt of criticism and failed to be nominated at the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Did that come as a surprise? What is your take on all the circumstances surrounding the film?
"I'm not surprised. The attacks were only to be expected, unfortunately. I think the most important thing is that the film has been brought to the international scene and received attention there. The stories told about Serbs aren't the nicest around, but now the world has this one film that lets them see what our nation has gone through before they point a finger. The film doesn't aim to create new conflicts, but rather to reveal how far people are ready to go, how careful we need to be as we choose who to listen to and what to believe in, and whether any of that is common sense or not. The film shows this one nation, alike to many others in history, who came to believe they were superior to another. I think a person who fosters racial and national divisions must be cut off from nature because, if they weren't, they would understand that we all one. We are all flesh and blood, and all of us are mortal. The coronavirus has brought that fact to the fore as well. At any rate, hatred is exhausting, and I would really like to see people become aware of that, and finally start caring for one another and helping each other grow in the days that we have under the sun."
Kurir/ Ljubomir Radanov