“In the last 10 years of Serbian cinema, there have been movies about war and crime – subjects that nobody likes, especially if you’re trying to find escape from the cinema,” See You in Montevideo director Dragan Bjelogrlic told Deadine’s Dominic Patten at last night’s Awardsline screening for Serbia’s foreign Oscar entry.

In providing the ideal cinematic escape for Serbian moviegoers, Bjelogrlic created a sports epic that harkens back to a simpler time in his country’s history, prior to when Europe was pommelled by World War II, Fascism and the rise of Communism. See You in Montevideo is the sequel to the director’s 2010 title Montevideo: Taste of a Dream, which was also Serbia’s Oscar entry.  Both are adapted from a popular Serbian novel.

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Montevideo: Taste of a Dream recounts the Yugoslavian team discovering their surprising ability on the soccer field, and subsequently their invitation to the first 1930 World Cup in Uruguay. The sequel centers around the team’s culture shock and immediate fame as champs in South America.  As the team takes down and beats Bolivia and Brazil, it ultimately faces off with Uruguay, resulting in a scandalous game in which the Yugoslavians’ outsider status works against them. Woven into this underdog sports story is the early history of FIFA, as it tries to organize itself into a full league. Even the U.S. at this time vied to make its mark with the sport by courting the Yugoslavians for an all-star team (there’s a scene where Armand Assante as a sports manager suavely courts the team – a gesture that offends some of them).

montevideo 3While Bjelorgrlic sought to make a movie about “a time when grandfathers (of today) had dreams, when their days were simple,” he took his inspiration while shooting See You in Montevideo from such war epics like Gladiator. “I wanted the team’s last match to be like a battle,” says the director who thrusted his camera into the heart of the field action.

Shot largely in Spain, the bright colors and soft hues of See You in Montevideo bring to mind another Oscar foreign film, 1992 winner Belle Epoque which was also set in the early 1930s.  “I wanted the past to look like it was from an old postcard,” said Bjelogrlic about See You in Montevideo‘s production design.

Typically the sports dramas that have triumphed at the Oscars have been from the U.S. (i.e. Rocky, Raging Bull) and the U.K, (Chariots of Fire), but a potential foreign film nod for See You in Montevideo would be an anomaly for the genre. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences votes this week on the foreign film short list.  From that list, five will be selected as Oscar noms in the category on Jan. 15.  Below is the foreign trailer for See You in Montevideo: