Skinning (2010)

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Skinning (Serbian: Шишање / Šišanje) is a 2010 Serbian film directed by Stevan Filipović. It premiered on 6 October 2010 in Sava Centar in Belgrade.

Plot; The film opens with actual news footage of protests in front of the American embassy in Belgrade following the Kosovo is Serbia protest rally that was held in response to the 17 February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence by ethnic Albanians inhabiting Serbia’s southern province of Kosovo. This news footage is intercut with shots of the movie’s main protagonist, skinhead Novica, protesting by leading chants and lighting flares in front of the embassy while he’s also providing narration.

The story than backs up as Novica (Nikola Rakočević), a timid and geeky high school student with frumpy clothing and disheveled thick hair, is introduced. He lives in Belgrade where his life revolves around attending advanced math classes for gifted kids and taking part in math competitions. Due to his awkwardness around people, his social life is nothing to speak of – his only friends are his stoner cousin Mirko (Miloš Tanasković) as well as an even nerdier math colleague Stanislav (Vladimir Tešović).

At a math competition as the students are working away solving problems, Novica is pressured into cheating by Relja, a confident skinhead full of bravado who is also gifted at math, but doesn’t quite possess Novica’s math problem-solving skills. Relja is seated relatively close to Novica at the competition and is stuck on a question that he can’t solve. Obviously flattered by the attention from a kid placed much higher on the high school social scale, Novica passes Relja the solution written on a piece of paper. The competition supervisor notices something untoward occurred and tells Novica to report the person he’d helped without penalty to himself. Wanting to cover for Relja, Novica purposely wrongly points out nerdy Stanislav as the recipient of his help, leading to the supervisor throwing both Novica and Stanislav out thus breaking her promise to spare Novica.

Outside, Relja is happy and impressed with Novica’s behaviour under pressure, handing him a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf as well as extending an invite to a lecture by professor Hadži-Tankosić (Predrag Ejdus) at the University of Belgrade’s Faculty of Philosophy. Novica brings his cousin Mirko along who, dissatisfied with the right-wing, anti-Semitic overtones in professor’s lecture, leaves early on. Novica, on the other hand, remains and is very much receptive to what he’s hearing.

The next day Relja takes Novica to a football match since his skinheads are active as fans of FK Radnik – corrupt lower-league club financed by the local gangster nicknamed Pufta (Srđan Miletić). Though seemingly faithful supporters of the club, they don’t care much for football, mostly using the matches as the public platform to raise the group’s profile and further their right-wing political agenda through racist chanting, violence, and hooliganism. Additionally, skinheads have an extremely antagonistic relationship with the club’s financier Pufta, regularly getting into fights with “Pufta’s diesel boys” – small group of fans on his payroll. Since he doesn’t own the club, Pufta’s motivation for getting involved with football is taking advantage of his vaguely defined “financier role” in order to siphon off the funds from player transfers abroad. As he conducts his business in ruthless manner, his biggest rivals are similarly run FK Kosančić, the club that also has a financier – a mafia widow. At this particular match FK Radnik is playing FK Novi Pazar and there’s no shortage of hateful chants and violence as Novica and Relja, among others, get taken to the police station where they’re questioned by corrupt inspector Milutin (Nikola Kojo) and young idealistic policewoman Lidija (Nataša Šolak) who recently joined the force. She immediately notices that Novica doesn’t really fit the usual skinhead profile and encourages him to get out, even giving him her personal contact in case he ever needs help.

Couple of days later, Relja formally introduces Novica to the various individuals that make up his skinhead, white supremacist group, including his sexy girlfriend Mina (Bojana Novaković) and computer geek Svarog, all of whom hang out in an underground swastika-adorned cave where they mostly guzzle beer and listen to hard core bands such as Direktori. As it turns out, Novica already knows Mina from the neighbourhood (they once got jumped by a group of diesel boys, barely managing to escape) and already harbours some emotions towards her. Mina seduces Novica, symbolising his seduction into the world of racist skinheads. After having passionate sex in a room filled with nazi-symbols, Mina has Novica sitting naked while she(also naked) cuts off his hair.

Hanging out one night, under the influence of alcohol, the group is walking along the river quay when they run into one of the diesel boys who’s all by himself. In addition to belonging to their hated rival group, he’s also Roma, which makes him even more of a target in their eyes. The skinheads pin him down to the ground, giving him a beating using fists and boots. Novica is especially up for confrontation as he charges the incapacitated Roma with a concrete block, smashing his head with it, thus killing him instantly. Shocked by the gruesome crime Novica just committed, other skinheads panic a bit before regrouping and deciding to dump the body into the river and sink with it with rocks.

10/10

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