RKS Film: “Tabija” (The White Fortress): Hoodlum Meets Girl from a “Good” Family

Faruk (Pavle Čemerkić) lives with his grandmother in one of those socialist tenements from the old Yugoslavian communist days in the infamous city of Sarajevo. He has a day job collecting scrap metal with his uncle. He also runs girls for the big boss Cedo who amongst his other businesses is a pimp. Faruk has been asked to gain the confidence of a girl so Cedo can pimp her out. Faruk is a hoodlum but not a violent one. Sort of a James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause”. He is close to twenty.

Mona (Sumeja Dardagan) is from a well to do family and her father is a politician. Mona is a bit younger than Faruk. Mona believes the relationship between her parents is a loveless one which disturbs her romantic nature. Mona’s parents wish to offload her to Toronto with relatives. Mona has no desire to move to Canada. Mona is unhappy living with her parents and like Natalie Wood in “Rebel Without a Cause” starts a relationship with Faruk from the other side of the tracks.

Faruk may be a hood but he has no intention of grooming Mona to be a hooker. He is warned by a fellow hood that he is a dead man for not recruiting a girl. Don’t mess with Cedo!

Faruk claims initially not to be a romantic but he falls for Mona. Yes there is teen trouble in Sarajevo which is far better than the shelling and bombing of years gone by. I have been in Sarajevo three times while Bosnia was a part of communist Yugoslavia so I am no stranger to its streets.

Faruk has a favourite television show which is a WW2 drama dealing with the Nazi occupation of Sarajevo. As Faruk points out to Mona, Sarajevo has been under all sorts of foreign rule and oppression. By analogy Faruk is a prisoner of his poverty and Mona of a miserable life with her parents. The relationship between Mona and Faruk in many facets is also perhaps an allegory for Sarajevo and that is what takes this film beyond a troubled teen film.

The question is whether true love can blossom? It certainly looks that way until something mysterious happens in the White Fortress up in the hills of Sarajevo. Having been there the view of Sarajevo below is spectacular and somewhat haunting when you hear the call to prayers from the minarets.

Čemerkić and Dardagan are well cast as regular looking teenagers and they deliver with strong performances.

You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjpGIFh2tqQ&t=21s

The film will be released on April 22. It is a Canadian and Bosnian co-production. It is directed by Igor Drljač.

RKS Film Rating 73/100.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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