Film Review: Route 3 (2019), by Thanasis Neofotistos

Route 3 , the sixth short film by the Greek director, writer & architect Thanasis Neofotistos was in the official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, and after a long festival travel, it reached Clermont-Ferrand, which finally gave us the opportunity to write about it.

On a hot summer day in Sarajevo, a beautiful young woman (Simonida Mandić) covered with a headscarf catches attention of a shy teenager Amar (Enes Kozličić) who can’t get his eyes from her. As the tram gets more and more crowded due to a strong rain-shower, the air gets filled with strange eroticism. Amar’s daydreaming gets disturbed by a sudden flow of passengers who fill in the wagon to escape the rain. Oranges are passed around by a woman in a leopard dress, and the juicy fruit makes people overstep the borders of good behavior in a public space.

It must be said that you have to be from the Balkans to understand the Balkan mentality, and Neofotistos masters the task. Route 3 is filmed entirely inside of “trojka”, or the tram N°3, one of the most busy means of public transport in Sarajevo. The trams and buses we are used to and that we are actively using in the region, are the crossover between sport polygons (crawl, jump, squeeze in between, balance on one foot, avoid that your nose lands under a sweaty armpit…) and noisy cages in which loud fights, minding other people’s business and insults are commonplace. All of this is shown in the short 13′. with all its charming and nasty sides. One of them is the phenomena of accepting the worst in people we grew up with.

Route 3 is as much a study of human behavior conditioned by specific situations, as it is a story of budding sexuality in teenagers, unpleasant and exciting at the same time.

For those familiar with the shorts landscape, the previous films by Thanasis Neofotistos need not be explained. His Patision Avenue had the world premiere at the 75th Venice Film Festival (Cortometraggi Orizzonti Venezia), and was the big winner at Clermont-Ferrand 2019, where it scooped three awards (Jury, Canal+ and EFA). Nefotistos is currently working on two feature films – Peter and The Wolf that already got the main GFC & Media funding, and Wild Boars which is being developed in Torino Lab & MFI.

Original title: Trojka
Country: Bosnia
Language: Bosnian
Runtime: 13′ 04”
Directed by: Thanasis Neofotistos
Written by: Marina Symeon
Producers: Dimitris Tsakaleas, Armin Hadžić
Executive Producers: Jovan Marjanović, Mirsad Purivatra, Izeta Građević
Director of Photography: Carmen Tofeni
Editors: Panos Angelopoulos, Saša Peševski
Music: Kostas Chaliasas
Sound editiing/sound mix/ sound design: Christos Sakellariou, Studio Chelia
Sound mixing: Costas Chrysagelos, DNA Lab
Production design: Emina Kujundžić
Colourists: Imagna Pictures SA, panos Angelopoulos, Midhat Mujkić
Focus Puller/ 1st Assistant camera: Faris Dobraša
Sound engineering: Predrag Doder
Boom operator: Nirvan Imamović
Gaffer: Safet Kutlovac
Make-up and hair: Lamija Hadžihasanović Homorac
Cast: Enes Kozličić, Simonida Mandić, Lazar Dragojević
Distribution: Radiator IP Sales