THE WITCH HUNTERS (2018)
Starring Mihajlo Milavic, Silma Mahmuti, Jelena Djokic, Bojan Zirovic, Dubravka Kovjanic, Jelena Jovanova Peric, Olga Odanovic, Stella Cetkovic, Milutin Milosevic, Mateja Popovic, Milena Predic, Vladimir Veljkovic, Mihailo Ezdenci, Despot Terzic, Marko Umicevic, Vaja Dujovic, Milica Markovic, Nikola Radulovic, Lidija Antonovic and Vladimir Mica Popovic.
Screenplay by Marko Manojlovic and Milos Kreckovic.
Directed by Rasko Miljkovic.
Distributed by Pluto Films. 86 minutes. Not Rated.
Screened for the 2020 ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York.
This sweet, but slight, Serbian coming of age drama tells an absorbing tale of an oddball school-aged friendship of two outsiders.
Despite the dramatic title, there is little supernatural here, no horror and only limited action. Instead, The Witch Hunters focuses on two middle-school-aged children coming to terms with problems and their limitations while finding someone they can be themselves with.
Jovan (Mihajlo Milavic) is a young boy who suffers from partial Cerebral Palsy. His parents love him and dote on him. His classmates are generally kind to him, if a little standoffish. He is set in his ways and mostly happy. However, he is frustrated by his condition. He dreams about being a superhero – who he calls The Shade – writing wrongs in their town and committing acts of derring-do.
His life is thrown out of whack when a new girl named Milica (Silma Mahmuti) joins his class. Milica has newly moved into the area with her mother because her father has left them for another woman. Milica is outgoing, tomboyish, refuses to stand down to bullies and is absolutely convinced that her father’s new lover is a witch who has enchanted him. After all, she makes all these new-age teas and potions, and her father acts differently with her. Besides, you can only love one person in your life, right?
At first Jovan is annoyed by Milica’s intrusion in his life. She’s sharing his desk at school! She came to visit his home without being invited! But soon they become fast friends.
They decide to find proof that Milica’s dad’s new lover is indeed a witch, break the spell and find a happy ever after for Milica and her mother. In the meantime, Jovan tries to deal with his fears and his constraints as he is determined to be there for his new friend.
And that’s pretty much it. We see two outsiders become nearly inseparable through this somewhat Quixotic quest, and they learn some valuable lessons about life and love along the way.
The Witch Hunters doesn’t exactly dig deep – it’s more of a parable than a hard-hitting expose of the pre-teen set – but the kids are lovable, and the story is beguiling in its simplicity and its sweet naivete.
With all the problems going on in the world right now, this kind of wide-eyed look at the wonders of life is all the more necessary. The Witch Hunters is not going to change anyone’s life but watching it will make one’s day more pleasurable.
In a world where suddenly everyone is worried about pandemics and self-quarantines, there is a desperate need for simple delights like The Witch Hunter.
(Ed. Note: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 annual ReelAbilities Film Festival New York has been changed to a virtual festival. All films and Q&As will be available for streaming. You can get information on the festival at their website https://reelabilities.org/newyork/)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2020 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 30, 2020.