Journey through the walls of the largest juvenile correctional facility in the Balkans as director Jovan Todorovic allows his audience a glimpse into the harsh world of a nation’s troubled youth. Spending a year in the company of Serbian young offenders, Todorovic and his small crew provide a surprisingly cinematic view of everyday life in this detention centre in this candid 17-minute documentary.
Feeling as gritty and raw as it does surprisingly polished, Juvenile is a film that initially grabs your attention with the incredible access and insight it provides to a community not often covered in film, but really hooks you in with the incredible production Todorovic and his small crew managed to maintain throughout filming. At times feeling so fluid you could imagine the some of the sequences feeling at home in a work of fiction set within the same walls, the director (who is of Serbian origin) explains in an interview with Dazed his aims for the film and how he approached the production:
“I wanted to create a visual journey into a world people haven’t seen or experienced before and wish to bring this very local realm to a universal and global audience. But having [the kids] like what we were doing, and having them feeling at least a little bit proud and good and cool for taking part in it was the biggest achievement so far”.
“My idea was to make a film that is strongly visual and what I call a film of atmosphere. I very consciously went into the detention center without a premeditated premise other than my intention to observe and record the kids through a prism of my personal aesthetic approach. I’m making a film that one cannot clearly distinguish between what could be regarded as a fictional and non-fictional visual style, but that will undeniably move and touch the viewer with its bare and strong emotions”.
Todorovic’s observational style here is bound to split opinion, some may find his narrative approach too unstructured, but for me, this was one of the most fascinating and exciting short documentaries I’ve experienced in some time. It’s a film that should, at a basic level, be admired for the dedicated, committed process the director and his crew put into capturing their subjects lives, but at a deeper level, it should be revered for the confident production and Todorovic’s faith in his somewhat unorthodox style.
Hoping that this short will help him raise the funds to develop it into a feature-length documentary, you can follow Jovan’s work at the website below or on Twitter at @jovantodorovic