Over her time studying at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, young Serbian director Maša Šarović has perfected the art of a suspenseful short. Šarović moved to the Serbian capital from her hometown of Subotica, and her films to date deal with the darker moments of city life, often happening right under our noses. From a documentary short that follows a young man’s intoxicated misdemeanors around Belgrade in Cempa (2015), to the action-packed six-minute short Afterparty (2015) about a young woman trying to flee a crime she didn’t commit, each of her films is tenser and more unsettling than the last. Šarović isn’t so much interested in directing a “thriller” or “psychological horror” as she is finding creative ways to represent emotional turmoil on screen.
The City (2016) begins with a young couple’s trip to Belgrade, disrupted by an overly-friendly local who seems to take an interest in the female protagonist. Compared to the fast-paced Afterparty, the plot of The City builds slowly to reflect the escalating tension between the young woman and the stranger.
The City is an adaptation of a scene from the play Bure Baruta by Macedonian playwright Dejan Dukovski. Šarović decided to play out the scenario from the point of view of the female character. The director’s biggest departure from the source material is in the more surreal moments of the short; where Dukovski is literal, Šarović’s intensely visceral rendition makes it unclear whether anything happens for real or in the female character’s mind. Šarović is currently in the fourth year of her studies. Her latest short, entitled The Hottest Days of Summer, is another psychological study of a young couple at breaking point, this time taking place in the man’s parents’ apartment.
“In the past few years I have been interested in relationships between people and different types of people who are either drawn to each other or end up clashing. I think this is what interests me most and that’s why it spontaneously ends up in my films,” Šarović explains.