On August 11, 1999, while the world celebrated, most of Serbia’s population barricaded themselves in their homes and nuclear bunkers, in fear of the lunar shadow.
Using this event as a metaphor for nation’s unclean conscience about the consequences of its political choices, in this essay documentary director confronts her country’s wartime and criminal past, and the evil that is still on the loose today.
Original title: Formørkelsen
Production country: Norway
Duration: 110 min.
Directed by: Nataša Urban
Written by: Nataša Urban
Main Producer: Ingvil Giske
Cinematography: Ivan Markovic
Editing: Jelena Maksimovic
Original Score: Jared Blum, Bill Gould
Sound: Svenn Jakobsen
I became a documentary filmmaker in 2005, when I was desperately looking for ways to disassociate myself from my home country Serbia. I found my new identity in being a filmmaker. But eventually even that wasn’t enough to make my life in Serbia bearable. My homeland had put me through hell, and much worse, had done unconceivable atrocities, genocide even, in neighboring countries. At one point, I had enough of it. Along with tens of thousands of other people, I left. We left not only to change our existence, but to become some other people. This tells a lot about the country we left, and the state of identity we tried to relinquish. It took me 25 years to start opening up about my experiences of war. It is the safety net of my family and life in Norway that allowed me to finally start facing the ghosts from my past.
Total solar eclipse – this rare and magnificent natural phenomenon – is the central motif of my film, for two important reasons.
On August 11, 1999, people of Serbia collectively hid from the sun. I use this surreal event as a metaphor for Serbia’s avoidance of its wartime past and responsibilities. People, locked in their apartments, hid from the lunar shadow behind thick curtains, cowering before their involvement in the horrors of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia. It represents the unclean conscience of a nation about the consequences of its political choices. Even now, the war crimes, atrocities, and genocide perpetrated in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo are treated with silence at best, and denial at worst. Serbia has still not confronted the evil it supported for over a decade, so that evil still roams unconstrained.
A solar eclipse is intimately connected to the nature of time. Solar eclipses repeat in cycles, they appear in exact intervals of 18 years, 11 days, 8 hours. I use the cyclic nature of eclipse to remind us that the past and history are repeating – much like the wars, hatred, and brutality from my point of view when I was a girl. I was 22 when the total eclipse occurred. By then, my country had waged four wars.
THE ECLIPSE is an anti-war film. The reoccurring solar eclipse, and the breakup of Yugoslavia, warn us that the postwar European peace is an illusion, that our violent history can be used to sow the seeds for new carnage and war. But how do we stop this vicious cycle? One of the ways is to look to compassion, shame, guilt, and responsibility. Hope lives in an open and honest communication. I hope this film will contribute towards that. (Nataša Urban)
About the director
Nataša Urban is a documentary film director and editor working professionally since 2005. Her films, such as JOURNEY OF A RED FRIDGE (IDFA First Appearance Competition 2007, IDFA Top 25 Audience Favorites 2007) and BIG SISTER PUNAM (UNICEF Award for Children Rights), have been screened at over 100 international film festivals and have received 40 awards. They have aired on major TV networks worldwide, including ARTE, RAI, ZDF, DR2, YLE, ORF, RSI, and PBS, and are part of educational programs in schools around the globe, from Ghana to Mongolia.
Nataša holds a Master's degree in Photography, and took part in ESoDoc 2006, IDFAcademy 2007, IDFA Summer School 2014, Berlinale Talents 2015, and Werner Herzog Rogue Film School 2016. She’s been with Medieperatørene since 2011, working both as a director and editor.
2022 - THE ECLIPSE, Documentary
2010 - MBAMBU AND THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, Documentary
2009 - BIG SISTER PUNAM, Documentary
2007 - JOURNEY OF A RED FRIDGE, Documentary