Atop a mountain in Southwest Serbia the Jankovic brothers hold the fort in the womanless village of Zabrdje. In a hilarious narrative this well-crafted doc follows the brothers' quest to bring women back to the once vibrant community. But with no running water or roads, convincing Serbian women is out of the question. Instead they turn their eyes across the border to Albania and extend an olive branch to the women of their old enemy.
"I have 70 sheep and I look for a girl aged 18 to 25. I am honest and I would love to get married!"
Zoran Jankovic may have set his heart on finding a wife, but his brother Rodolub harbours more realistic romantic ambitions: he's happy spending late nights in the company of a pair of scissors and a few back copies of Playboy, lovingly cutting out busty babes by the light of a naked bulb."This is no place for a woman,"
he declares. "Where will she go to wash herself?"
A quick look at the Jankovic farmstead confirms Rodolub's doubts. A family of sheep stands on the roof, munching on wads of thatch. The three brothers share a sparse room and wash their faces in rainwater from an old bathtub; the door of the open-air toilet hangs off its hinges. There's no privacy here: men, livestock, poultry and pets literally live on each other's backs. Surveyed by grandfather Veljo and a lone patrolling cockerel, the brothers take care of the fields and the housework, and even darn their own shirts.
Since grandfather Veljo's childhood - when women outnumbered men by "seven to one"
in Zabrdje - Serbian women have been flocking to the cities at an alarming rate. But over the border in Albania mass male emigration has caused the opposite problem. Could this be a match made in heaven? This is extreme 'Lonely Hearts', Balkan style.
Zoran's mission proves more laborious than he'd first imagined though. In his quest for a visa he's batted from bureaucrat to inept bureaucrat, and totally mystified by mobile phones and modern manners. On a bus tour to Albania with other hopeful Serbian bachelors he visits the sites of massacres and ancient battles, before attending a matchmaking feast where he finally gets to try out his rustic charm on the ladies. Will he find himself a beautiful wife?
With subtle and sensitive camerawork encompassing both the bleak landscapes and absurd details, Village Without Women is one of the most delightfully comic and touching films you'll see this year.
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Official Selection, Visions du Reel, Nyon, 2012
Official Selection, TIFF, Tokyo, 2011
Estonian People's Choice, Parnu International Film Festival, 2011
Jury Prize, Documenta, Madrid, 2011
Best Documentary, Scenecs, The Netherlands, 2011
3rd Jury's Award, Festival Cameras des Champs, 2012
Audience Award, Gdansk Docfilm Festival 2012
SCAM Award, Sunnyside of the Doc, 2012