We are writing to inform you about a significant Serbian national project – FATHER the Movie – making of the first historical feature film about the lives of Saint Sava and Stefan Nemanja, and the very beginnings of Serbian statehood!
This undertaking has received the support of several Serbian institutions and personages, and most importantly the support of the brotherhood of The Holy Monastery Hilandar.
The film is a part of a larger project - a crucial battle for the preservation of Serbian national identity, restoration of our value system and survival of the most positive part of our national being, the part that makes us special in the global family of nations.
The Founder's Mosaic - online mosaic of the Serbian spiritual restoration can be found on the following page.
You can join others on The Founder’s Mosaic with the donation at the very beginning, when mutual recognition and the power that comes of it is most needed.
Take part in laying the foundation of Serbian spiritual restoration!
Our first promotional music video recorded in support of the project by various Serbian musicians can be viewed by clicking on the following link.
Serbia is on its knees. Defeated in almost all areas of life. Now we need faith that it is still not too late to come together to save Her. However, even if we find a semblance of that faith – we find it hard to decide where to start. There is so much to be done immediately.
What is certain is that we need to preserve the cultural and spiritual identity and in it find the strength for the struggle that is ahead. To seek out the true repentance that will restore us and to cease to annihilate ourselves in false repentance that is imposed on us by force. If we who have not surrendered want to recognize how and where to go to get out of the backwater in which we have strayed – we need to take notice with love and attention the signs from the beginnings of our historic journey.
We need to turn to the holy founders of our nation – St. Sava and St. Simeon Nemanja and seek help from them. We believe that of great assistance in this task will be the historical feature film about the feats of the great fathers and the inception of a vision that has led the Serbian people through history, which today we either do not recognize or do not understand – The Father. Past work on the realization of The Father film project has shown that the interest and support that a film about St. Sava and St. Nemanja enjoys are great in Serbia and in the Diaspora alike, in government and ecclesiastical circles, with prominent individuals from the fields of business, sports, culture. The cultural and social potential of The Father greatly surpasses the boundaries of the cinematic art. To exercise this potential, it is essential that the film results from a common will. A will of each of us. A will for the survival of the community.
In addition, before us is an attempt to take a big step, both symbolically and concretely, in ending the protracted common wandering that has tired all of us, jeopardized the future of our children, brought into question the achievements of our ancestors, and the very survival of the Serbian people.
This is the first call to join forces and make a dignified, congregational consecration to the fathers of Serbia, to hear from them again and to approach them – and with their support seek the hope of a new beginning.
ABOUT THE MOVIE
However often referred to, and however, within the specific Serbian religiousness, sometimes even inappropriately placed in front of other Christian saints, even in front of the Church, as much as every year historical and literary texts about his life are read at school events – St. Sava is actually a little known fact in our midst. Serbs respect and like St. Sava but they do not actually find him close to their hearts. They praise him, but they do not take him as a role model. They ask him for help, but do not reach for it. The image of him has ultimately become sentimental and unnaturally stiff. More like a tapestry than an icon. Yet this is a multi-gifted man of deep spirituality who was also a volcano of active energy. Someone who can again become a true role model for young people.
SERBIAN CULTURAL IDENTITY
Serbs have two great symbols, two strong roots of their spiritual and cultural identity. Both are Christian, but one relates to war and the other – to peace. One relates more to event and the other more to person. Over time, one has become more attached to heroic sacrifice and the other – to life of ascetic feat.
About the undoubted importance of the Battle of Kosovo and of Lazar’s choice for the Serbian history, and the present, one should not spend too many words.
The older, “peaceful” symbol of the Serbian identity is tied to the work of Saint Sava and his father Nemanja – St. Simeon. Without him, even Covenant of Kosovo becomes opaque and vulnerable to abuses of all kind. It is not dealt in the film, and in popular culture in general it did not leave any conspicuous traces.
Put in simplest terms – at this juncture, when they got tired of symbolising The Rampart Nation, the Serbs had to address their older symbol – The Bridge Nation. A blend of the East and the West, of the national and of the cosmopolitan, of spiritual and practical, traditional and modern – this all is the legacy of St. Sava built into the foundations of the Serbian Orthodoxy, a legacy which today is often misunderstood exclusively in the key of guardianship of tradition. Besides, tradition always includes a meld, a transfer from the past into the future.
To continue in this difficult period for the Serbian cultural identity without reaching for a symbol around which we can reunite, revive and recuperate, is simply unacceptable. Taking on this symbol as a healthy root, perhaps we can do something on the way out of the malaise in which we are today. When cinema is in question – much has been invested exactly in the deepening of this malaise.
Screenplay for The Father deals with the period from the arrival of the aging sovereign Nemanja as a monk to Mount Athos to the return of his son Sava with his father's miraculous, myrrh-gushing relics to civil war-torn, impoverished and starving Serbia – ten years later.
Why this period of lives of these two great figures of Serbian history, these two great saints?
The reunion, far away from Serbia, of two strong personas – of the father, the successful aging ruler and his son, a young monk of deep spirituality – created the foundation of the Serbian state, Serbian culture and church. Both of them had done everything that was necessary to serve God and their kindred with their whole might. They bore the sacrifice. Nemanja sacrificed his well-deserved comfortable old age so as to touch the life of heaven in ascetic feat even during life and leave to his successors a holy exemplar, while Sava gave up the peace of the Holy Mountain to lead Serbs into the ranks of serious, spiritually enlightened nations.
With their love, they practically forced one another to this. Sometimes perhaps on the verge of conflict, they helped one another to get the best out of themselves and thus always remain together to serve God and their kindred. The father and the son. The role models for eternity.
The Father will help us to leave aside, for a moment, the clichés with which we have captured the two Greats (while we have done it to make it easier for us to accept the passivity and weaknesses of our own). The film will look at the miracle of the transformation of the old ruler, roughened by many a war and burden of power – into a meek and benevolent saint, one who is literally guided by the evangelical credo “he who wants to be elder, let him be under all and servant of all” and, on the other hand, the transformation of a young man of great spiritual gift, entirely dedicated to self-improvement – into the Father of the Nation, who returns to the turmoil of the world to serve his neighbour with all his forces.
The jeopardy in the cinematic approach to this subject matter lies in the prevailing sentimental formula, while the full disclosure and understanding of it is possible only in a sincere, realistic perception of human destiny. In order for the film not to remain just a well-intentioned but tendentious view of Serbian national history, we must not lose a sense of holiness, but we must not forget the casual conflict and humour, which is necessary for the truthful insight into events and characters.
To make it easier for us to access these greats, we are also aided by the precious characters of Nemanja’s companions, old warriors who had sworn allegiance to their master until the end, who had come to Mount Athos with him to follow him to the death. Like most of the audience, they initially do not understand the highly spiritual topics, but when they begin to try to convert their military skills into spiritual – this becomes the source of a series of endearing, even comical situations. Only when they set their sights to building a Serbian monastery on Mount Athos – for posterity – they find themselves in full. In the end, with love, together with their master, they will find triumph.
THE ELDERLY AND THE YOUNG
Today, Serbia is becoming a country of elderly people. How much meaning, in this context, bears a reminder that old age is not only expectation of death and that repair of oneself can and should last until the last breath! How important is that, in the time of dominant individualism, the young are warned that only service to others leads to the full development of one's God-given gifts!
It is always moving and inspiring to see how a son, regardless of his yearnings, with love accepts and meets his father’s covenant, yet it is especially amazing and rarely seen that a son become a spiritual father to his father! This is something that today still, in the general hopelessness that is pressing Serbia, may serve as example to the younger generations, but also as hope to the older ones. Overcoming obstacles and hard work in achieving the fullness of love and holiness is something that has universal significance, something that is potentially interesting to all people and all cultures.
By celebrating both the youth and the old age, Serbia may as well rejuvenate.
THEN AND NOW
Through a film about the worldly and the spiritual, a film in which we will rediscover the tears and smiles of healing, runs a series of parallels with present time.
In The Father, we follow the reconstruction of previously abandoned Hilandar Monastery; today, we follow its reconstruction after a fire.
Exhausted and impoverished by wars and internal conflicts, Serbia of The Father has a clear parallel in the present poor state of the country.
The hope that the coming back of Sava and Simeon brought to the land has a parallel in our hope from which The Father has come to be.
In the selection of events to be covered in the screenplay, care was taken of the unfortunate economic situation and the difficulties that stand in the way of raising funds for the film. Avoided are the large mass scenes, cumbersome set design efforts and an abundance of expensive historic costumes. Yet, it is a “spectacle in miniature”. By the choice of events and locations, the costume and the set design are condensed, but everything needs to be done with maximum realism nonetheless. The cinematic language must be contemporaneous, with effective use of technology and high-demand procedures in post-production. The film is visually challenging, while the specific atmosphere of the Holy Mountain and of the stirring historical reconstructions needs a hand from the music score, which will be given special attention.
Overall, The Father is a film of national importance that has to be done according to excellent standards, but in a way of St. Sava – by connecting the spiritual and the material, the prayer and the craft, that which is religious with that which is artistic.
The work on the realization of the cinematic project The Father was primarily taken on by co-producers in the likes of Foundation for Promotion and Expansion of the Christian Orthodox and National Serbian Culture Heritage of the Fathers (founders are Serbs of Berlin and Belgrade) and a new production house OPET&OPET of Belgrade. Past endeavours have shown that the interest in this film about Sava and Nemanja is great both in Serbia and abroad.
Already in its initial stage, prior to the public launch late last year and early this year, the project was presented and received support from the Brotherhood of the Hilandar Monastery, from His Holiness Serbian Patriarch, and from the Minister of Culture of the Government of Serbia. The interest and support to The Father exists not only in government and ecclesiastical circles but also in prominent individuals from the field of business, sports, culture. One could say that a consensus is brewing on the invaluable importance of working on this great theme of Serbian history, exactly at this time, a time of a multifaceted crisis that has stricken Serbia.
The general opinion is that this is a cinematic feat of national importance, one that will also be interesting to foreign viewers, primarily those from the countries of Orthodox cultural circle, and that its cultural and social potential greatly exceeds the boundaries of cinematic art. To realize this potential, it is essential that the Film be a cooperative of wills. Will of each of us. Will to preserve togetherness.
INITIAL PHASE and THE FATHER, A FEATURE FILM PROMOTIONAL WEBSITE
For everything about the film and additional interesting background material, visit our site www.film-otac.com.
At the online presentation of the film Father, you will be able follow the development of the screenplay for the film, give your comments and suggestions, find interesting material that is used in the development of the Film, together with images, illustrations, historical records, video and audio recordings from the Holy Mountain, where most part of the plot of the film takes place.
How can someone engage in an extensive family of those who feel insufficiently worthy heirs of the great Fathers, primarily Sava and Simeon, and of those who want to do something so that the attitude of the Serbs towards the holy founders of the nation change?
We are awaiting signing of an agreement with a banking institution on online payments by credit cards, so that all interested parties in the country and around the world were allowed easier participation.
Until then, on offer is an opportunity to participate in the project by donating a desired amount via online payments by credit cards or payment to the account of the Foundation Heritage of the Fathers.
All who have donated any amount will become members of the Friends of the Film Club and will be able to follow the development of the screenplay, and when the time comes – auditions for certain roles – together with certain extra content that will not be available to everyone. As a symbolic token of appreciation – anyone who donates 20 euro, or equivalent, will receive a block in the great Patron Mosaic located on the Internet presentation of the Film at www.film-otac.com. Higher contributions correspond to more blocks in the Mosaic. Each block carries the name of its patron and sports a link to an Internet location of choice of the new Friend of the Film (personal or business website, Facebook page, etc.)
Take your place among the first who will contribute and appear on ktetor's mosaic. Give an example in the first call!
For more information about the Film and for more interesting background material, visit our site at www.film-otac.com.
- Deacon Nenad Ilić
- Vladimir Petrović
EXPERT COUNCIL OF THE FILM
- Archimandrite Metodius, Hegumen of the Hilandar Monastery
- Dr Srđan Pirivatrić, Research Assistant at the Byzantological Institute of the Serbian Academy of Science and the Arts (SANU)
- Dr Aleksandra Pavićević, Senior Research Fellow at Ethngraphic Institute of SANU
- Dr Milan Radujko, Research Fellow at the Belgrade University Faculty of Philosophy Institute of Art History
- Viktor Savić, M.A, Research Assistant at the Serbian Language Institute of SANU
- Professor Dr Mirko Kovačević, Chief Architect in charge of Renovation of Hilandar Monastery