The first role that made Serbian actor Nenad Okanović celebrity in Serbia and region is the character of „son Dragan“ from popular Serbian TV series „Selo gori, a baba se češlja“ (The village is burning, and the grandmother is combing her hair). Though he played many other parts in a meanwhile, audience often connects him with this roll even nowadays. After that, Nenad had remarked roles in „Guča!“, „Vir“ (Whirlpool) and other films. Lately he also plays one of the leading roles in a very popular TV series „Ubice mog oca“ (Murderers of my Father). He is also very engaged at theatre and hosts TV quiz „Ja volim Srbiju“ (I Love Serbia) at Serbian national TV network RTS together with one of founders of world famous band „Emir Kusturica & No Smoking Orchestra”. Nenad has part in Nele’s theatre show “FBI – Dossier Tesla” too. Audience discovers Nenad’s new acting talents and qualities with every new role he interprets. It’s less known that he also runs ETM Production from Belgrade together with his wife Željana. In fact, he was engaged in filming „Open Cage“ not only as an actor, but also as a producer. This film was made in co-production with Nema Love Film Kolektiv from Berlin.

We made interview with Nenad Okanović and talked about Open Cage and other topics in honour to recent Australian premiere of this film that was organized by Euraw Stories Film Society from Melbourne. The premiere of this film was held in Berlin (Germany) and Belgrade (Serbia). After that it was screened at Sopot Film Festival (Poland), at Kustendorf (Serbia) founded by famous Serbian director Emir Kusturica and other renowned festivals. Open Cage also won several film awards. Australian Premiere in Melbourne was also very successful and it was rare opportunity for audience in Australia to watch one Serbian movie at cinema. Serbian films are very rarely screened in Australia out of festivals organized and followed only by Serbian diaspora. However, thanks to Euraw Stories this changes slowly and Australian audience has a chance to see new film from Balkans, Eastern and Central Europe every month! March is certainly dedicated to Serbian cinematography and movie Open Cage!

How did your cooperation with director Sinisa Galic started?

I met Sinisa six years ago at the festival of student film at Kustendorf. It was his first time in Serbia, though he is of Serbian origin, because he grew up in Germany. We became friends after our first conversation already. Kindred spirits recognize each other. We are in contact all the time since then and became even godfathers. It was the matter of time when we will film something together.

What was it like in your experience to film „Open Cage“, considering you are one of producers and also part of the cast? How did you manage making movie in three languages and two countries? Sounds very interesting…

Just like that! It was very interesting, especially because it was my first time to take part in international project. It took us only couple of days to figure all out and fit. We were communicating mostly in English and Sinisa was brilliantly managing filming. He had very nice relations with all the members of the cast and crew, so we all functioned as one. I like to say that Sinisa is German school with Serbian soul.

“Open Cage” was first screened in Berlin and then in Belgrade, at Kustendorf and other renowned festivals. Besides that, this movie also won significant awards. What are your fondest memories of all those beautiful moments?

It is always crucial for me how audience reacts and it’s interesting that German and Serbian audience received the film in the same way in spite of cultural and mentality differences. New experiences, new friendships, traveling – those are all charms tied with festival life of one movie. I am especially pleased that German members of the cast and crew brought wonderful impressions from Serbia. All of them were returning to Serbia several times after the filming just as tourists.

Australian premiere of “Open Cage” was held in Melbourne recently, which is significant considering how very few films from Serbia reach Australia. Those are usually screenings for Serbian diaspora even if it happens. How important is this Australian premiere to you?

Screening in Australia is very important to me, like all past and future ones. I can’t wait to hear how Australian audience received the movie!

What are your thoughts on Australian cinematography and Australia in general?

Unfortunately I have to admit that I’m not too familiar with Australian cinematography and you just gave me idea to learn more about it. When it comes to Australia, in my eyes it is faraway exotic country with amazing nature and amiable people. It is definitely on my list of destinations I would like to visit.

People often connect you with roles you interpret in popular Serbian TV series, but they know well your film parts too. Among recent roles you played which one was especially interesting for you and why?

It happened that I played mostly “good guys” so far and fans like me because they identify me with those characters. I’m trying to choose different parts, because it’s the only way for me to keep acting in a playful and exciting way. Son Dragan in “Selo gori, a baba se češlja” (popular Serbian TV series), Grašak – white Gypsy from “Guča!” (film) Grof in “Vir” (“The Whirl” film) my “firstling” as a producer, Pera in “Ubice mog oca” (TV series)… All my roles are different and dear to me in different way.

For quite a while you are also running a quiz “I Love Serbia” (Ja volim Srbiju) at Serbian national TV network RTS with your co-hosts Nele Karajlic and Nina Senicar. Recently you played in Nele’s theatre show “FBI – Dossier Tesla”. Nele Karajlic is internationally very well known to audience for his performances with Emir Kusturica and their No Smoking Orchestra. Seems you are having fun working together at TV and theatre. How does it look like actually?

First I have to admit that it’s one of my childhood dreams come true to meet Nele and most of the cast from famous TV series “Nadrealisti (Surrealists), which influenced me the most to choose my profession. Working with Nele was beyond my wildest dreams. When I quoted dialogs from that TV series I know by heart, Nele couldn’t believe. He told I was the missing piece. You can imagine how thrilled I was! The quiz we host is a great fun and I love doing it especially because Nele and Nina. “FBI – Dossier Tesla” is also an awesome project and it was honour for me to jump in.

It’s often very interesting behind the scene too. May you share a glimpse of it with our readers?

When you work with good team made of people who are on the same page as you, everything is easy no matter how hard and long process of filming may be. We joke and laugh a lot to our own, but also others’ mistakes. We make audience laugh too. It is really great vibe even the cameras are shut down.

What are you working currently? Where the audience can see you these days?

We are preparing to continue shooting TV series “Ubice mog oca” (Murderers of My Father). I am very looking forward to it, because the cast and crew is made of top professionals. I am also coming back to theatre stage after many years. Theatre comedy “Klackalica” (Teeter) is on Serbian tour and it’s received excellently. With my friend, great musician and presenter Bojan Ivkovic I am also preparing theatre show for children. As a producer, I also prepare realization of few TV and film projects. I should also soon finish master studies in production at Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade (Serbia). On top of everything, director Sinisa Galic and I recently had a premiere of our short film “Sretan put” (Have a Nice Trip).


Australiana Serba SerbaEuRaw StoriesThe first role that made Serbian actor Nenad Okanović celebrity in Serbia and region is the character of „son Dragan“ from popular Serbian TV series „Selo gori, a baba se češlja“ (The village is burning, and the grandmother is combing her hair). Though he played many other parts in...Internet Magazine