The most powerful film at the Rotterdam Film Festival so far comes from Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic. "Midwinter Night's Dream" is a bleak yet sensitive drama set in post-war Belgrade, where new hopes are cherished but ultimately crushed by the weight of the haunting memories of war. In the end, the only character to survive the tragedy is a 12 year old autistic girl. (This, btw, was not an actress but an autistic girl in reality as well.)
Pasaljevic explained after the screening how he sees autism as a metaphor for the current state of his country. His film is one of the first Serbian films to acknowledge it's own role in the war, and the aftermath he paints is certainly not a pretty picture.
Perhaps the best hope was Paskaljevic' anecdote of how during the shooting of the film the autistic girl slowly started to make contact with the world, enjoying simple things like having dinner with the crew. She recently took a trip with the film's crew and cast to San Sebastian, where the film was awarded the jury prize.