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The buzzes, clanks and whirrs of prison life form a meditation on freedom

In a nearly wordless sequence, the short documentary The Same captures men and women in four of Serbia’s largest prisons in daily routines of eating, working, socialising, grooming and moving mechanically through their environment. While some of these activities, such as baking bread or tending to horses, seem more desirable than others, the constricted nature of the scenes lends the montage a disquieting character. The Serbian director Dejan Petrović augments these images with a soundscape crafted from the rhythms of prison life – the key-clanking and beeps of guards moving through a metal detector, meals moving on and off of trays in a mess hall, sewing machines whirring on a prison factory floor. Despite the film’s alienating effect, there’s also a perhaps dissonant beauty to the images, which are artfully framed and often imbued with metaphor. The result is a complex meditation on identity and individuality, conformity and freedom.

Director: Dejan Petrović

Cinematographer: Dragan Vildović

Website: Film Center Serbia

29 June 2021

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