The amazing aspect of Ivana The Terrible is its cast. Since there was very little money to produce the film, the actors playing Ivana’s family, friends, ex-boyfriends, and city officials are her actual family, friends, ex-boyfriends, and city officials. In a way, you get what you pay for. It’s not that the acting by the amateurs is terrible, but it can limit the types of stories and performances you ultimately capture on film. But she captures enough to make a robust and cohesive film.
The filmmaking techniques that Mladenović employs is a single handheld camera, shot like a fly-on-the-wall documentary along with Christopher Guest-style improvisation to capture the narrative and quite frankly character authenticity. Early in the film, Ivana comes home greeted by her father, who is frustrated that she won’t take the doctor’s stress diagnosis seriously. The fights feel real between father and daughter. The camera then moves to her grandmother, who hates the fact that her whining granddaughter back home and staying with them. She says little, but it’s biting, and what she does say sparks an explosion. Mladenović then takes this vast amount of footage and edits the hell out of it, leaving only the dramatic and comedic moments.
“…shot like a fly-on-the-wall documentary along with Christopher Guest-style improvisation…”
Ivana Mladenović is not only brilliant behind the camera but in front of it as well. She understands the story she wants to tell, and her performance drives it. Equally important is her direction to her amateur cast and her ability to get what she needs from them. My favorite moments are between Ivana and her ex-boyfriend and girlfriend artist/singer Anca Pop. The two are odd yet engaging people. The boyfriend wears the weirdest close from the 90s and could care less about Ivana’s drama. Hilarious is the moment when Anca Pop is meeting with the real mayor and city council of Kladovo and wants to discuss the upcoming Clitoris Festival, that she wants to organize in partnership with the town.
In World Cinema, there’s this fear that stories from other countries and cultures just do not translate. It’s not true. The human experience is global. It’s the context that changes. Family is family across the world, and the fights and familial bonds are all the same. Ivana The Terrible is an incredible relatable film. It can drag at moments, but Ivana Mladenović captures real moments with those close to her as they drudge up their old s**t, which ultimately transforms this into a charming movie in the end.
Ivana The Terrible made its North American Premiere at the 2019 AFI Fest.
"…the actors playing family, friends, ex-boyfriends, and city officials are her actual family, friends, ex-boyfriends, and city officials."