Croatia The second plan and Bulgaria’s Agitprop, two leading production companies in Southeast Europe, have been attached to co-produce the upcoming drama series Saber, a political thriller about the 2003 assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, produced by Belgrade-based This and That Productions.
Created by Goran Stanković and Uladzimir Tagić, the series will star Serbian-Danish actress Danica Čurčić, known internationally for her starring role in Netflix’s psychological thriller The Chestnut Man, as a reporter investigating a shocking murder.
The companies announced the deal on Monday at Sarajevo Film Festivalwhere This and That’s “Bad Blood” and Drugi Plan’s “The Silence” were among the best Balkan drama series competing for the Heart of Sarajevo television award, which was presented at a ceremony in the Bosnian capital on Sunday night.
Saber was presented for the first time in Sarajevo three years ago during the CineLink Drama co-financing forum, where it was recognized as the best drama project. Last year, the series participated in the international development and scripting program Midpoint TV Launch.
The series examines Djindjic’s assassination and its political consequences through the eyes of three characters—a reporter, a police inspector, and a young criminal—while tracing the impact it has had on their lives.
“Shabli” is set in 2003 as Serbia struggled to emerge from a bloody decade of transition in the former Yugoslavia. Talking to Diversity in Sarajevo, Stankovic described the shocking assassination of the prime minister in broad daylight as “a turning point for the entire Balkan region,” while Second Plan co-founder Nebojsa Taraba called it a “John F. Kennedy moment” for the new democracies of the former Yugoslavia, in including Croatia, adding: “That’s why we love to be a part of this story.”
Taraba’s Zagreb-based company, which sold a controlling stake in Beta Film two years ago, produced political crime thriller Paper, which was acquired by Netflix, and Croatian-Ukrainian crime drama Silence, which was picked up by HBO Max this year.
He described Saber as a natural fit for the company’s ambitious high-end drama lineup, while pointing out that it reflects a growing desire among the region’s leading independent producers to apply the same international co-production model to drama series that has long strengthened the region’s film industry.
Silence, for example, was produced by Drugi Plan and Croatian broadcaster HRT in association with Beta Film, Russian and Ukrainian Star Media, Ukrainian OLL.TV and ZDF/Arte. The company’s other projects include Anatomy of a Crime, a crime drama set in 1960s Yugoslavia in collaboration with Serbian production company Film Fantastika, and Island Chance, a first-of-its-kind co-production. production between the Balkans and Scandinavia, which Drugi Plan produces together with Iceland’s Grass River.
The co-production with Agitprop comes with the news that Saber will be the first-ever international co-production to benefit from the Bulgarian National Film Center’s new fund, which supports TV drama, as described by Martychka Bazilova of Sofia-based Agitprop. as a “pioneering moment” for manufacturing in Southeast Europe.
“I am very proud and excited to be a part of this ground-breaking moment, which is the first-ever support for any National Film Center in this part of the world to produce a television series,” she said, referring to her co-producing partners from This and That and Drugi Plan as ” a team I believe in.”
“This story opens up very important issues that we need to know and talk about, and I really love being a part of telling it.”
The film Saber was produced by Snezhana van Houvelingen for This and That Productions and co-produced by Nebojša Tarab and Miodrag Sila for Drugi Plan and Marticko Bazilov for Agitprop with the support of the Serbian Public Broadcaster RTS, the Bulgarian National Film Center and the European Union’s Creative Europe – MEDIA Program.
In the photo: Goran Stankovic (left) and Uladzimir Tagich