I debated writing about this. I haven't seen A SERBIAN FILM, and honestly, I probably never will. My peers have told me about the film, the subject matter, and how the film doesn't pull punches, and I've decided it isn't for me. I'm a parent, and I know my limitations (which are quite high) when it comes to film. I've seen some pretty heinous stuff on film, and stuff that's pushed my buttons. I don't normally have a problem with gore (ordinarily it takes me right out of the movie because I know it's not real). I don't have a problem with children in danger in film. I understand what context and theme mean.
I also don't judge the people who've seen A SERBIAN FILM. That is idiotic. It's art. You don't judge the audience, or the artist, even; you judge the art, and the art alone. I don't dispute my peers' claims that A SERBIAN FILM is a film worthy of respect. Harry's seen it and was affected by it. Drew McWeeny of HitFix.com and others have seen it and felt that it was an important film and worth discussing, and I agree with them. But I have a personal threshold when it comes to this stuff, and so I take myself out of the argument. I don't doubt that A SERBIAN FILM is important. But I can't watch it.
At the same time, the idea that the makers of the film are somehow morally corrupt people is absolutely ridiculous. And the idea that the public prosecutor in Barcelona wants to charge the Sitges Film Festival, a world-renowned film festival of horror, science fiction, and fantasy films, and its director, Angel Sala, with exhibition of child pornography is offensive and angers me to the core. From what I understand the most offensive scene (and the scene that has everyone up in arms) is done off camera. It's suggested, for the most part, and I think suggestion in many ways is more effective than outright showing the horror because your mind fills in the blanks. The scene is not meant to arouse; if you react in horror, congratulations, you're normal. But apparently the prosecutor in Barcelona wants to throw the book at the festival and Sala, who didn't even make the film but simply showed it.
If a case is filed against Sitges and Sala, we're in uncharted legal territory, with Sala possibly getting a jail sentence of up to a year, simply for showing this film where no actual child injury takes place. Undoubtedly, the film deals with child rape. No question. But is it a taboo subject? Can't we talk about it, and deal with it? Perhaps the film puts us into the ugly reality of what we're seeing, and confronts us directly with it instead of talking around it like it's some Very Special Episode of Blossom or something. The fact that there's apparently no depths of depravity and evil to which humanity can sink is something that should be discussed, and understood. The filmmakers of A SERBIAN FILM wanted to show the world just how bad it is out there, in a world where the haves consume and the have-nots suffer for it. How we're either users or victims. But the idea that the film shouldn't be seen by adults who can handle it and make their own minds up is offensive; I'm more offended than any Wal-Mart mother screaming "Think of the children!" could ever hope to be. Those people aren't offended. They simply can't shut up. They don't know how to react to what they're seeing with any kind of analytic thought, and so they must scream, like a baby for a bottle, begging to be comforted. Surely these horrible things can't happen in the real world, right? The filmmakers are just horrible people with sick fetishes, right?
Wrong. If we are to truly understand the nature of our world, and ourselves, we must look under the rock in the field and see the insects beneath. I can't handle A SERBIAN FILM. I know that about myself. But I would never, ever think to deny anyone the right to join the debate. We are capable of great beauty and wonder, and great evil and horror. It's only fair that we look at both, because if art can't do that, then it simply becomes an echo chamber of our better natures, and the victims continue to scream, unheard, unloved, and unavenged.