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SLUG Magazine Slamdance film review: Battery Man

Battery Man

Slamdance Film Festival

Directors: Dusan Saponja and Dusan Cavic

Biba Struja is a 54-year-old Serbian with a special talent, which nobody really knows how to explain. With nothing more than a determined look on his face and pair of metal rods, Struja is able to cook a hot dog, boil water, and even ignite a piece of cloth drenched with lighter fluid. He is “Battery Man.” Although there are a lot of fascinating documentaries screening at this year’s Slamdance, this is easily one of the most bizarre and captivating films thanks to Struja’s unique abilities. The film is shot in Serbia, where Struja lives and is somewhat of a celebrity, although his status has faded as he’s aged, which the film portrays very well through interviews with family and friends. And even though the film has subtitles the whole time, the directors do a nice job capturing the emotion inside of Struja as he tells his life story. The film also documents baffled doctors and scientists who, despite doing tests on Struja, cannot fully explain how he is able to withstand large amounts of electricity passing through his body. One of the memorable scenes in the film is when a group of young scientists seem to be making fun of Struja’s abilities, as though it is nothing special or unique, and he is forced to prove himself. Another thing that makes this film great is Struja’s laidback and humorous personality, which the directors did a nice job showing. This is a fascinating documentary that keeps you engaged throughout, but may be challenging for those who hate reading subtitles.

 

Slamdance festivalgenius 2013

Programmer Notes:
Who can fry a hot dog with his hands and two forks? Biba the Battery Man, that’s who. Or… Can he? Striving to convey the humanity behind the super-humanity, the two directors of ‘Battery Man’ (both named Dusan, in a wonderful twist of luck)  use the tools of filmmaking to their best effect; letting moments languish, extending uncomfortable scenes, celebrating the quiet humor of the (super-)human condition… The result is a film that allows rare insight into a compelling personality, yet confronts us with some real questions about authenticity, spectacle, celebrity and the will to believe.
– Saskia Wilson-Brown, Slamdance Programmer

 

Toolkit | Making a Pitch at IDFA’s FORUM

Other notable trailers were presented for Serbian project “The Battery Man,” pitched by directors Dusan Saponja and Dusan Cavic, and another Danish film, “Democrats,” pitched by director Camila Nielsson, producer Henrik Veileborg, and Mette Hoffmann Meyer for DR TV.

“Battery” was especially well-received, so much so that some commissioning editors worried that the success of the humorous trailer may have set expectations too high for the finished film, and others complaining that the filmmakers weren’t asking for enough money! The project profiles a real-life superhuman, a man who can channel electricity through his body at will, as he seeks to establish a dangerous Guinness world record.

-Basil Tsiokos – Programming Associate, Documentaries: Sundance. Shorts/Panel Programmer: DOC NYC. Film & Fest Consultant. Contributor: Indiewire.

 

Thessaloniki Doc Fest ’12: Docs In the Works Spotlight Greek Mothers & Food, Immortal & Electrical Men

“Battery Man”
Directors: Dusan Saponja & Dusan Cavic
Producer: Snezana Penev
Country: Serbia
Production Company: Ciklotron
Budget: €132,000

Synopsis: Biba, a real-life superhuman who can control electricity, attempts to understand how his powers work and to enter the Guinness Book of World Records by sustaining exposure to one million volts of electricity, despite the skepticism of scientists.

I heard a fantastic pitch on this project at IDFA in 2010, so it’s good to see how it’s developing. New scenes include Biba’s mother and brother, as well as a confrontation with disbelievers, and additional TV appearances demonstrating his abilities – each expanding the character development of the unusual main subject.

-Basil Tsiokos – Programming Associate, Documentaries: Sundance. Shorts/Panel Programmer: DOC NYC. Film & Fest Consultant. Contributor: Indiewire.

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