Zvizdan (The High Sun) (2015)

The cruel ethnic wars fought in former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001 are revisited with passion and compassion in Dalibor Matanic’s absorbing drama The High Sun (Zvizdan), which looks back at the beginning and end of the conflict through a trio of poignant love stories. Though the stories and characters are different, all three feature the superb young actors Goran Markovic and Tihana Lazovic as war-crossed lovers, linking the narrative with a bridge of anguish, guilt and redemption. The film hits a high-water mark for Croatian writer-director Matanic (Fine Dead Girls, Kino Lika), and its bow in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard should launch respectable art house sales.

The internecine wars that culminated in the splintering of Yugoslavia into separate countries have inspired many a film, from Goran Paskaljevic’s Cabaret Balkan to Srdjan Dragojevic’s Pretty Village, Pretty Flame and Ademir Kenovic’s The Perfect Circle, to name some of the classics. What makes The High Sun contemporary and relevant is the way it sums up 20 years of simmering hatred and hostility and shows how the scars still remain.