As a small child I heard the story about a sunken town in Serbia. For many years I was haunted by one picture – the picture of the church tower that would appear when the level of the river would go down. When I grew up I forgot about it. Thirty years later, I visited Đerdap, National Park on the Danube. In that area the Danube is the widest. The nature is breathtaking, surrounded by mountains and forests: over there blue Danube determinedly flows towards the Black Sea.
In that beautiful place my host pointed toward the river and told me: “Look, over there was my hometown”. In that moment I knew that I was in the place from my childhood imagination. He continued: “Everyone has a hometown where they can return. Even if the town was destroyed in the war, you can still visit burned remains and you will find foundation of the house, land and the sight from your memory. But I can’t see my hometown, I can’t stand at the place where my house was. My hometown does not exist anymore. It is not on any map. Only a few of us still carry it in memory”. His new house is built on a hill above the place where the city was. And every day he is watching the river and passing the story of the town to the passers-by.
My heart and body reacted to the emotions of my host and his determination to preserve something that dissapeared long time ago; I was contemplating about this for the last five years and I went back for more stories from others who are in their memories and souls, still inhabitants of the town that lies under the river.
The history of the town Donji Milanovac submerged in the Danube is Serbia’s untold story. Lives, emotions and memories of its inhabitants were silenced in the name of the greater communist regime cause: the construction of the dam and human domination of nature.
All of us once lost someone or something that gave us a sense of existence. We invoke it in the present time in order to feel complete. How do the inhabitants of Donji Milanovic fill in the loss of their town flooded by the dam on the Danube?
In the film The Flood I’m searching for the meaning of human memory and the power of imagination we pass along to future generations. Memories have nothing to do with historical facts, they are our perception and truth we construct and strongly believe in. They are our interventions in the present. Without them we could forget who we are and where are we going. It is the power of mind that help us to stay in contact with our soul. The protagonists of the film are searching through their dreams, emotions and memories so they could evoke one part of their lives, of themselves, of their identity that stayed under the river. I am interested in their stories but also in showing their emotions through close-ups of the eyes, and quiet, wordless moments of taking breath and pause. During filming, I preferred to stay in contact with them in that way, then to ask a next question.