If Kevin Smith had made a documentary about the Serbian porn industry, prior to making Clerks—this would be that film.
I’m 90% certain this is a documentary, by the way. 95%.
I’m pretty sure this is real.
The premise/story is that the filmmaker Nenad Bekvalac missed his ex-girlfriend who was a stripper-turned-porn star. She’s now engaged to someone else and they live far away, but will be returning to sell their apartment. He hopes to meet up with her then and win her back.
In the meantime, Nenad has seen some local porn and he’s not impressed with the low quality—he wants to make porn of higher caliber. First he sits down and watches a lot of porn (this is what Madison Young recommends to do when preparing to make your own in order to see what works and what doesn’t so that’s not as ridiculous of a plan as it sounds).
Then he wishes to befriend the biggest name in Serbian porn, Slobodan Stankovic (pronounced Stankovich), who has a regular set of performers. All of the porn actors in Serbia work with him and won’t work with anyone else without consulting him first so Bekvalac needs to know him anyway.
Bekvalac meets up with a core group of Stankovic’s actors and then introduces the viewer to several individually, allowing us to learn more about them, why they got into the business, their background, to go along on shoots, etc.
The Serbian industry is unlike the U.S. industry. If anyone would like to nominate that at understatement of the year, I think we have a chance.
People work in order to buy food or wood for the winter. The bodies are as natural as nature can provide. There is a certain degree of… intention I suppose is the word I’m looking for, in that Stankovic knows to have his performers to open up to the camera and keep hair from blocking light. He plays video before filming to give the performers an idea of how to do what they need to do.
Dino—he’s new and determined to make a success of himself. We watch him go to Hungary to film a scene with an actress there.
Djurica—a bisexual young man who lives with his aunt and uncle. He’s been in the business in a variety of capacities for some time and would like to leave Serbia altogether.
Erzebet—a woman who’s also been performing in print and on video for some time. She has her husband join her in a scene during the filming of the documentary.
Simeon—a former soldier who’s achieved local notoriety due to his new profession as a popular porn actor.
There are quite a few non-simulated sex acts. No big finishes, as it were, though.
After becoming immersed in the Serbian porn scene, Bekvalac grows to prefer the low-fi aesthetic and is no longer interested in making high-quality film.
‘Low-fi’ is an accurate description for this entire documentary. Booms are in view more often than not, the crew is visible in reflections, all those sorts of things. Dino recreates conversations with people in his life about becoming a porn star with about the level of believability of an episode of Jersey Shore. (There are only a couple of scenes like this—I think they were to give context? I don’t know. Like I said—think pre-Clerks Kevin Smith.)
Bekvalac gets back in touch with his ex and books her to do a scene for his film.
If you have no plans to watch it and want to know how things turn out. He says she has a professional mask on the entire time they’re together. After they’ve done their scene he says his film stalled and he never finished it and gradually lost interest in becoming a pornographer. Wow, man. That is a lot to go through just because you wanted your ex back.
Overall, it was depressing in a way that personal stories about porn stars in the U.S. aren’t always (they can be, but many are people getting paid to do what they love.) Made in Serbia was a portrait of how a much smaller porn industry with far less financing and social support works. It was an enlightening view of a business in a part of the world I knew little about.
*Oh yes, in this week’s episode I said Serbia made a decent portion of the world’s pornography. I have absolutely no idea where I got that idea. Apologies. I tried to find out the percentage of the world’s porn made there and came up with nothing. The US makes 89% of the world’s porn. South Korea is the biggest market for porn, though.