EASY LAND – TIFF Film Reviews 2019
November 9, 2019

Canadian production

Director and writer – Sanja Zivkovic

Jasna (Mirjana Jakovic), a Serbian architect, settled in Toronto, as a refugee, during the war in the former Yugoslavia, along with her daughter, Nina (Nini Kiri).  Nina is repeating Grade 12, unhappy, ashamed of her mother, and wants to return to her life in Serbia. The relationship with Nina is strained.  Nina shares little.  Both women are isolated. 

Jasna has had a breakdown and is diagnosed as being mentally ill and is on meds.  A social worker got Jasna a job in an interior design shop where she is demeaned, made to wear a badge identifying her as an intern and told to observe but not serve customers.

Nina struggles at school, bullied by classmates who know about her mother who they call crazy.  Nina is disinterested in school. She is befriended by Arman, a 21-year old student and drug dealer.  Nina sells what are apparently stolen cell phones to a dealer and stashes away the money for her return to Serbia.

Nina is sent by a teacher to work with a theatre group who are working on a Samuel Beckett play.  Initially she does not want to participate but eventually becomes drawn in. 

Jasna is not able to pay their rent, owes $300 to the landlord after receiving an eviction notice which she hides in the closet.  She dreams of selling a design proposal for a centre for immigrants and thinks she has a potential interested party, a customer, Ben. Ben asks her out for a drink and ultimately, they go to his apartment and have sex.  Ben pretends he is interested in her plan and Jasna proceeds to put together a design.  Jasna goes off her meds and works feverishly on the design which she takes to Ben who rejects the work; he never was interested, and had lied to her.   

Jasna had had a career in Serbia and Nina had friends there.  Both women struggle on their own to make their way in a foreign world.  Was Jasna mentally ill or does her immigrant experience push her over the edge? This film shows us how difficult life can be for refugees who have been forced to flee the world they know for a new, confusing one.

The Director expressed her great appreciation for the funds made available to her to tell a story that speaks to her own experiences as an immigrant to this country.

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