Maja Šuša, one of few people from the SEE region selected for Berlinale Talents for this year

An Actress, Writer and Director of Bašta Fest, was choosen for Berlinale Talents among 3.295 applicants

Being at the Berlinale Talents is a big deal for every young artist. You are producing networking events such as the Balkan Short Film Network, how important to you is this event that will take place in February this year in Berlin?


I'm so excited and can't believe it is happening so soon. Because I'm also interested in film festivals, visiting big festivals is a huge event for me. I like learning, so Berlinale Talents looks like great opportunity to open my views, get in touch with new people, and topics and expand my knowledge. I was a part of Sarajevo Talents in 2014. and in the programme Developing your film festival by Independent Cinema Office in 2016. and both of these events were amazing experiences. Berlinale Talents looks like good next step.



In addition to being an actress, you are the director of the "Bašta Fest" festival. How difficult/easy is for you to manage the organization, budget, finance, and production? The festival has been held for 9 years, and we believe that the whole team is behind it. How did you cope with everything in the beginning, and how are you dealing with it today?


Bašta Fest, an international short fiction film festival in Bajina Bašta (West Serbia), is an integral part of my life. We started the festival in 2014. and we didn't know anything about organizing such an event. We were learning and working and there were always people around us ready to jump in and help. Today, Bašta Fest has grown into an institution, so our team is working on it throughout the year. As the next edition is the first big jubilee - the 10th festival, we are making huge plans and trying to find the best ways to sum up everything we've been through in the last ten years. The good thing for me is that I'm mostly working on the creative part, so I feel that I can fantasize and make things happen.



Through the festival, but also through your work, you often mention young people and working with young people, even though you are still very young. What are your predictions and wishes regarding the development of art (especially film) among young people?


At the beginning of the festival, the young filmmakers that were part of our competition programme were our friends and colleagues from academies. Now, those are people ten years younger than us, which is why I already feel that we are giving a platform for new talents, a place where they can meet with each other and potentially be discovered. When I'm selecting films for the programme, the feeling I have is the same when you tell to your friends: "You have to see this film". That is also the feeling I have when we present our younger colleagues at the festival: "You have to know these people and watch their films". I'm so happy when it happens that some of them start working together or when young directors and actors get their first awards at our festival. There are a lot of great and talented filmmakers in our region. In the past nine years we had many debut feature films and female directors that won festival awards and received great reviews. I think that this is the moment of change for our regional cinematography.



We believe that the fact that you played one of the roles in the film "After the winter", was one of the arguments for which you were selected among the 3.295 young people from all over the world for the Berlinale Talents. Can you tell us something more about the role you play and the film itself, working with the director, partners?


That was one of the best experiences in my professional life. I worked with director Ivan Bakrač on two short films before this one and had the opportunity to read the script from the very beginning. I read it in 2015. and we had the premiere in Karlovy Vary in 2021, so it was a long road. That was also why we had that feeling of family among the crew. "After the winter" is a film about five friends from Nikšić (Montenegro) who are experiencing their last days of youth and trying to expand them as much as possible while saving their friendships. My role is Bubi, the most problematic of them, as her emotions are a rollercoaster and it is hard for her to control her feelings and reactions. It was a challenging and liberating process and I adore working with Ivan and my actor colleagues Momčilo Otašević, Petar Burić, Ivona Kustudić and Ana Vučković.



It is interesting that in your experience, you have some very artistic projects behind you, but also some of them are very commercial. When choosing a project, how do you balance between what you like and on the other hand potentially good financial offer, or do you look at everything with a certain amount of positivism? What is your attitude, do you think it is good to reject some roles?


I think rejecting roles is a very important thing. Maybe it is harder when you are a young actress, but now I don't want to take the roles that I don't see as a challenge. You have to weigh sometimes between financial offers and the reasons why you like or don't like some projects, but that is also a part of making your career. I always tried to work more on artistic projects than commercial ones, although it doesn't mean that there are not some commercial projects in our country and region that are really good.



You write a lot, and your new project "Maybe Later" was co-financed, what can you tell us about that project and what are your next steps?


Hmm, I can't say a lot, but I'm trying to write a lot. "Maybe later" is a new short fiction film that I'm preparing with Damjan Radovanović, a wonderful director of photography and this is going to be his directorial debut. The shooting is planned for November this year in Bajina Bašta. We are now applying for co-productions and preparing the shooting. I am so happy that I can experience all the phases of making a film and that gives me a totally different point of view as an actress too. "Maybe Later" is a story about a young woman experiencing a life-changing moment and running away from a big city lifestyle to a small town where all her best childhood memories are, as well as one old friend.



And finally, what are you most looking forward to at the Berlinale Talents? Is this your first time at the Berlinale? What are the expectations?


Yes, that is my first time at Berlinale and in Berlin. I expect to meet some new interesting people and learn and expand my visions. I hope I'll have the time to watch great films and experience Berlin's nightlife too. The best I can imagine right now, besides lessons with Cate Blanchett and Ruben Ostlund, is having a drink with Lars Eidinger.

Courtesy of Maja Šuša