The last feature film made in a Yugoslavia on the brink of civil war and dissolution, TITO AND ME is an ironic, child's-eye view of that country in 1954, when the cult of personality surrounding Marshal Tito was at its height. The child is Zoran (Dimitrie Vojnov), the chubby son of a ballerina (Anica Dobra) and a musician (Predrag Manojlovic) who share...read more
The last feature film made in a Yugoslavia on the brink of civil war and dissolution, TITO AND ME is an ironic, child's-eye view of that country in 1954, when the cult of personality surrounding Marshal Tito was at its height.
The child is Zoran (Dimitrie Vojnov), the chubby son of a ballerina (Anica Dobra) and a musician (Predrag Manojlovic) who share a four-room apartment with the ballerina's mother, sister, and her family. The two sisters constantly bicker and Zoran has already developed an odd pattern of behavior
which runs to things like gouging out plaster from the walls and eating it. He has also developed a crush on the tall, leggy Jasna, an orphan who literally looks down on him. Jasna boasts of being chosen to go on a two-week, State-sponsored "Children's Walk Through Tito's Native Country." So, when
a composition contest is announced in Zorna's class with a place on that hike as the prize, Zoran is touched by the Marxist muse. He writes a dreadful paean that has the earth and sun revolving around the beloved Marshal and wins the prize. Zoran's family is suitably glum about the whole business,
his mother having performed before the dictator and experienced the reality behind the State-constructed image. Nevertheless, Zoran is sent off in style, dressed in Tyrolean gear complete with lederhosen, backpack, and a cap adorned with boar's whiskers.
The group leader, Comrade Raja (Lazar Ristovski), turns out to be a fanatic without charm, humor, or common sense. He insists on taking the most difficult trails, imposes bans on talking, and then attempts to rouse the children into enthusiastic song. Naturally, Raja takes a dim view of Zoran,
with his suspect artistic parentage and constant noshing. By the time the group reaches Tito's shrine, however, Raja has been taken away by a couple of secret policemen tailing the tour, and Tito has lost much of his luster in Zoran's eyes. In an epilogue, Zoran is selected to meet the Marshal,
but slips away from the official proceedings to gorge himself on the cakes set aside for the post-ceremony reception.
TITO AND ME brings to mind certain Polish films of the early 80s, when it first became possible to depict the recent political past with honesty. Screenwriter-director Gora Markovic has described his film as "practically autobiographical," in that he too once wrote silly things in order to get
good grades. He has also generously larded TITO AND ME with stock footage of Tito greeting this or that delegation, waving at adoring crowds, or playing the role of manorial lord at the hunt. The result is an engaging and humorous study, helped by a nicely understated performance from Dimitrie
Vojnov as young Zoran. (Adult situations.)