Berlinale 2021: White Fortress”


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

When a war starts, it takes lives; but when it ends, it destroys emotionally and psychologically what’s left behind. And that’s the most difficult part, picking up the broken pieces of life that, sadly for some, will never be the same.

Set in Sarajevo, Faruk (Pavle Cemerikic ) is a young boy who’s been orphaned at a very young age and left to be raised by his ill grandmother. He never met his father, and his mother went too soon. Faruk looks for various ways of making money, from selling scraps of metal to getting involved in crime. In one of his criminal adventures, he is asked to find a young girl and take her to an undisclosed location, where she will either be murdered or overdosed. Faruk finds one, but instead, he falls for her.

Mona (Sumeja Dardagan) is from a politically powerful family. Faruk does not know that. He also does not know that they belong to two different worlds. Yet they find so many things in common, except for Faruk’s love for coffee which she does not like. It’s an interesting dynamic between the two, set in post-war Sarajevo, where some struggle to put food on the table while those like Mona’s family keep striving.

It would’ve been a perfect love story with a potential happy ending if not for Faruk’s dark business that put a shade on his future. He knows if he doesn’t obey orders, he will have to pay for it. Not necessarily with his own life, but close enough to regret it. However, Faruk is not just a struggling boy who would do anything to make some extra money. He has decency and honor, things that are too foreign in this part of the world.

This is why whenever he sees Mona, it’s a perfect refuge for him to feel like a normal human being. What Faruk does not realize completely is that Mona too relies on him a lot. But how far will their unity advance? Will it be fruitful or heartbreaking? The title “White Fortress” perfectly suggests that. All due to director Igor Drijaca’s accurate portrayal of that era, understanding Faruk’s circumstances and giving him a chance to be happy. But that happiness won’t come at an easy price. And the most defining fight is set to begin – between Faruk and his fear; uncertain future versus clear determination.

All of that will come to one point when he must decide to either take a step back or forward, towards the White Fortress that may open plenty of opportunities for him like a newly born person. But will he reach there? Will he be happy with Mona? Will he be able to taste love and freedom? For most of you, the answer might be too obvious. But be ready, because “White Fortress” has a big surprise which you will be quite amused with but in a good way.

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