Set in an abandoned Montenegrin shipyard, You Have The Night portrays a world that no longer is

2 October 2020

You Have The Night is premiering online on 16 October as part of The Calvert Journal film festival. Check out the programme and get your free tickets here.


When Sanja loses her job as a cleaner on a ship, she finds herself stranded, with nowhere to go but back to her family. Meanwhile, in her hometown of Bijela, Montenegro, the local shipyard has just been declared bankrupt. Much like the devastation and despair bearing down on the community, a storm appears on the horizon. Then, overnight, people start to disappear.

Premiering online at The Calvert Journal Film Festival, You Have The Night is an enigmatic drama about a metaphorical and physical shipwreck. In his feature debut, director Ivan Salatić portrays a community on the margins of society, where intergenerational trauma and disorientation blind every glimmer of hope.

You Have The Night deals with a specific microcosm in the backyard of today’s Europe. It deals with the lives and the immediate surroundings of people who sank into the margins of a society in constant political and economic transition,” says Salatić, who was born in Dubrovnik in 1982, and grew up in Herceg Novi, a coastal town in Montenegro. “My childhood was marked by the end of Socialist Yugoslavia. Almost 30 years have passed since, but this trauma is still absolutely present. You Have The Night depicts a group of people lost in the landscape. They have a strong urge for a better life, but that seems to be slipping away all the time.”

The film’s elusive cinematography purposefully leaves dramatic plot twists off-screen, portraying characters isolated and alone against the icy waves of the Mediterranean. “One can see things more clearly from the margins,” says Salatić. “You can see all the controversy, subversion, and beauty.” With its haunting style, the film exacerbates a feeling of despair and the sense of both social and geographical remoteness of a seaside community.

While the portrayal of societies in transition is not novel in post-Yugoslav cinema, directors often opt for more realistic depictions in their films. However, Salatić’s You Have The Night is a suspenseful, quasi-surreal drama, where the elements of mystery meaningfully represent the feeling of confusion of a society that is crumbling down. Practically devoid of soundtrack, with lengthy shots of the empty harbour, You Have The Night is a symbolic, disconsolate portrayal of a place that no longer is.

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