Rivers may be simple geographical entities. But beyond that they are eloquent micro-milieus where history and stories have accumulated. The rivers Save, Kupa and Odra flow through the centre of the Croatian industrial town of Sisak. They were and are the lifelines of the city and the region. The rivers may appear like pastoral havens today, but the countless narratives of the past emerge more openly there than anywhere else.
Most of the river dwellers’ and users’ lives around which Goran Dević structures his film are linked to the events of the Yugoslavian civil war and its ethnic and social conflicts. Even though it was more than two and a half decades ago, this historic period seems like a parallel reality which throws its shadows over the protagonists like a permanent trauma. “On the Water” is a poetic and political study about the changeability and constancy of people and spaces in which the dividing line between the two is permanently blurred.
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