Originally titled Monument To Michael Jackson, the black comedy will shoot for six weeks on location in Serbia and Macedonia.

Serbian writer-director Darko Lungulov [pictured] has commenced prinicipal photography on his second feature film Monument in central Serbia.

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Originally titled Monument To Michael Jackson, the black comedy centres around Marko (Boris Milivojević), a 30-something inhabitant of a small central Serbian town which is slowly dying as all the young people move to bigger cities looking for work. Marko is an optimistic daydreamer that no one takes seriously. Inspired by Michael Jackson’s upcoming comeback tour, he decides to erect a monument to the King of Pop in attempt to bring media attention to his dying town, and prevent the love of his life (Nataša Tapušković) from leaving. Ridiculed by the town for his idea, he forges a letter from Jackson, announcing his attendance at the unveiling of the monument, which turns the situation around and brings a new hope to the people.

“This is not a story about Michael Jackson, but about ourselves, about a search for new heroes and new identity, salvation and hope,” said Lungulov. “I want to make a film with serious subject matter, but in the form of comedy, a bizarre story with unusual, charming characters. This approach will enable me to tackle painful subjects in a humorous, but also very emotional way.”

Lungulov wrote the original version of the script four years ago, before Jackson’s death. Since then the project participated at co-production markets at Belgrade FEST’s B2B, Sofia Film Meetings, Sarajevo’s CineLink and, most recently, at the Moscow Co-Production Forum.

Budgeted at approximately €850,000, Monument is co-produced by Serbia’s Papa Films, Germany’s Penrose Films (which also co-produced Lungulov’s first feature film Here And There), and Macedonia’s Dream Factory. In addition to funding from the Serbian Ministry of Culture and cultural funding bodies of the City of Belgrade and Vojvodina, the Macedonian Film Fund, and German MFG Baden-Wurttemberg fund, the film received support from the MEDIA Programme and SEE Cinema Network Fund.

The shooting will last six weeks on locations in central Serbia and Macedonia’s capital city Skopje. Besides Milivojević and Tapušković, the cast includes regional stars such as Dragan Bjelogrlić, Emir Hadžihafizbegović, Mirjana Karanović, Toni Mihajlovski, and Branislav Trifunović.

Here And There, starring Karanović, David Thornton and Cindy Lauper, won 16 international awards in 2009, including Best New York Narrative at Tribeca and three prizes at Ft. Lauderdale. It also ran as Serbia’s submission for the Academy Award for best film in a foreign language.