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Spare Parts

Director: Damjan Kozole

Slovenia| 2003. Subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 87 mins.


Writer-director Damjan Kozole’s remarkable film tackles two contemporary political issues with the kind of honesty and humanity that’s all too rare in today’s cinema. The setting is Krsko, a town situated on the border between Slovenia and Croatia. Once the pride of the Yugoslav communist regime (the film opens with newsreel footage of Tito opening a nuclear plant), the place is now a run-down, highly polluted backwater with a high level of unemployment. Disillusioned ex-speedway champion Ludvik (Peter Musevski) has drifted into the lucrative business of people trafficking, charging €1,000 per person to desperate souls attempting to cross the border into Italy. His new young assistant is Rudi (Aljoša Kovacic), through whose eyes we see how the smugglers ply their trade.
Even for Rudi, the terrible business becomes just anther job, despite the fact that it can involve rape and even death. What is astonishing about the film, however, is the way in which it proceeds to make the smugglers sympathetic figures without ever excusing their criminality. The seemingly hard-nosed Ludvik becomes a complex, fallible human being whose wife has died of cancer and who is himself about to meet the same fate. In a world ravaged by various forms of sickness (illness is used as a powerful metaphor throughout the film, whose title refers to the illegal use of body parts), there are many different kinds of victim.

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