Perhaps the best and worst thing about The White Fortress are the same – there’s an air of inexplicable dread that looms throughout, driving a cloud into the background of every happy moment.
When Faruk and Mona meet by chance, there’s absolutely no reason they should be together. Mona comes from a wealthy family, and Faruk is teetering on the precipice of a life of crime as he attempts to provide for himself and his doting, sick grandmother.
This grim, post-war Sarajevo setting is the backdrop for a tender, young love story that will pull irrevocably pull you in.
There is no doubt the connection is real, but what makes this so difficult is that outside forces are intent on keeping these teens from a happy ending.
With Mona being shipped off to Canada by her influential, institutional parents and Faruk being pulled into heinous schemes, they’re facing a world-changing struggle to keep their love alive.
While he fears the worst due to their relationship and her involvement with him, Mona sees a chance to escape her bureaucratic parents, who aren’t nearly as wholesome as they appear to be.
Director Igor Drljaca’s film is filled full of melancholy and the threat of shattered dreams, and leads Pavle Cemerikic and Sumeja Dardagan find their real strength in the emotions they are able to hold in.
The first big surprise of the festival is The White Fortress, and it will torment your heart from beginning to end.