Optimisti (2006) on IMDb

The five stories in THE OPTIMISTS are inspired by Voltaire’s famous satirical novel Candide and its motto: “Optimism is insisting everything is good when everything is bad.” The setting is present day, post-Milosevic Serbia. Painted with black humor, these stories reflect a time filled with hope and despair, real optimism and false; a time when fiction and reality co-exist side by side, and when many people fish in the troubled waters of lost illusions.
The acclaimed actor Lazar Ristovski (“Underground”, “The Powder Keg” aka “Cabaret Balkan” in the USA, “Midwinter Night’s Dream”) takes a role in each of the five stories.

Producer and director: Goran Paskaljevic
Screenwriter: Vladimir Paskaljević
Co-Scriptwriter: Goran Paskaljevic
Associate in the script: Filip David
Composer: Aleksandar Simić
Director of photography: Milan Spasić
Production designer: Tijana Marić
Costume designer: Lana Pavlović
Mask designer: Sandra Ivatović, Radmila Todorović
Editor: Petar Putniković
Sound: Velibor Hajduković
Line producer: Milan Cvetković


Lazar Ristovski, Banjac Mira, Božović Petar, Arsić Tihomir, Novaković Bojana, Ristovski Danica, Glogovac Nebojša, Savić Viktor, Milovanović Nebojša, Jevtović Vlada, Jovanović Dragan , Bekjarev Ivan, Štimac Slavko, Stjepanović Boro, Odanović Olga, Pleskonjić Aleksandr, Ristovski Jovan , Kovačević Kalina, Tomić Milan, Krstović Miodrag, Lukač Ljubica, Marić Gordana, Nenić Bora, Janićijević Dušan, Klemenc Ivan, Vidaković Branko, Zarić Ivan, Stevanović Lidija.


Toronto – Masters World Premiere 2006
51 Semana International de Cine de Valladolid 2006
Festróia – Tróia International Film Festival
Geneva Cinéma Tout Ecran
Geneva Film Festival – Audience Award for the best film
Geneva Film Festival – Best Director

Geneva Film Festival – FIPRESCI Award for the best film
51 Semana International de Cine de Valladolid 2006 – Best Film
51 Semana International de Cine de Valladolid 2006 – Best actor winner Lazar Ristovski
MEDITERRANEAN Film Festival / BRUSSELS 2006 – Special Prize of the Jury
Festróia – Tróia International Film Festival – Audience Award / Goran Paskaljevic



Everything’s good and getting better, or so the characters in The Optimists think. With a vivid sense of humor, irony, and sadness, director Goran Paskaljevic creates five stories of people struggling to overcome their harsh realities, while fighting to see the good in their endeavors. Paskaljevic presents a crew of confused individuals, blinded by their hopes of prevailing, that continue to get stuck in unfortunate situations. With a magnificent performance by Lazar Ristovski, from Kusturica’s Underground, the film is able to transmit tales of twisted, amusing episodes contrasted with sorrowful experiences. The persons within the film have something going against them, and they either confront this reality with humor or despondency. The first tale narrates the story of a town torn apart by a flood.


We see the townspeople congregate in a huge warehouse for shelter. They are visited by a man claiming to be a hypno-therapist, who says he can cure them all. Accused of being a thief, the man is arrested and taken away, but it is revealed that he is actually a harmless escape patient from the local mental institution. The second tale, and the most harrowing, concerns itself with a girl who is raped by her father’s boss. The father thinks he can kill his boss and get away with it, but realizes his boss owns the entire town. In the end, it is the man and his daughter who end up apologizing.



Francisco Saco


“The Optimists” – a feature film directed by Goran Paskaljevic – triumphed at the 51st international Festival in Valladolid, which ended on Saturday evening – Beta news agency reports. “The Optimists” won the Golden Spike grand prix, whilst Lazar Ristovski received the Best Actor Award. Paskaljevic’s film has also received the award of the young audience jury was also acclaimed by the young audience jury – Nova Film announced yesterday. The triumph of the film at this reputable world festival has been preceded by praises by both critics and the audience. Paskaljevic has already won the top prize at the Valladolid Festival ten years ago for his film “Someone Else’s America”. The grand prix also includes a financial prize intended to help the distribution of “The Optimists” (35,000 euro), which will be screened in cinemas across Spain starting November 5th . “The Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic has made a great impression at the festival with his latest feature film “The Optimists”,


which reconciled the audience and even the most demanding critics” – states the El Mundo daily. “Relying on the genius actor Lazar Ristovski, Paskaljevic made an extraordinary film: lucid, sad and witty at the same time” – notes the El Pais . “The grandeur of the film lies in its five original stories (screenplay by Vladimir Paskaljevic ), which draw upon raw humor to depict false hope.” – notes the newspaper’s film critic. “Filmed in a visually impressive way, but never being pretentious, ‘The Optimists’ reveals the extraordinary role creation by Lazar Ristovski.” – comments ABC. Mr. Manuel Peres, Director General of the Spanish national TV network (TVE) has already announced the purchase of exclusive rights for “The Optimists” that will be aired within the regular program schedule, right after the screenings in cinemas.  


(part of the translation)

(…) Well-managed, clear minded, cynicism turned into an art form, The Optimists are an ambitious and dark-comical film by the Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic. The free interpretation of Voltaire’s Candide is comical, surreal about his country and injustice, as well as about our own disappointments with the modern world. Every story is led by the experienced Lazar Ristovski playing various roles – one of them even being that of a dead man.

(…) Paskaljevic’s film is a perfectly mixed cocktail that wipes out any illusion about us being capable of controlling our own lives. It is also a vital antidote to for the war-torn Serbia where, after years of conflict, the people are easily exploited, especially when served with a destructive false hope.

…) Breaking all the existing illusions into pieces, The Optimists are an unusual and beautiful illustration of Candide’s point that optimism is “a madness in which someone keeps saying that everything is fine, even though all is utterly bad.”



Goran Paskaljevic

Goran Paskaljevic studied at the well-known Prague school of cinema (FAMU) under Elmar Klos. His first short film Mister Hrstka (1969), considered as “offensive to the socialist system and harmful to the social order” was banned by the Czechoslovakian regime. He has made 30 documentaries and 14 feature films, shown and acclaimed at the most prestigious international film festivals (Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto and San Sebastian…). The rise of nationalism in Yugoslavia forced him to leave his country in 1992. In 1998 he went back to make The Powder Keg (aka Cabaret Balkan in the USA) which won international critic’s prizes at the Venice Film Festival and the European Film Awards. In 2001, the Variety International Film Guide marks him as one of the top five directors of the year. His latest film Midwinter Night’s Dream (2004) exploring the post-war Serbia won the Grand Jury Prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Personal website in English, French, Italian and Serbian: www.paskaljevic.net

  • 2006-The Optimists (Optimisti)
  • Toronto – Masters – World Premiere
  • 2004-Midwinter Night’s Dream (San Zimske Noci) San Sebastian Film Festival – Grand Prize of the Jury Toronto Film Festival – Masters Prenominated for the European Academy Awards, in all categories Best
  • Serbian film of the year Nashville (USA) – Dreammaker Award for the best feature film Montpellier (France) – Golden Antigone for the Best Film Tromso (Norway) International Film Festival 2005 – International
  • Critics Prize (FIPRESCI)
  • 2001 How Harry Became a Tree (in English) Venice Film Festival – in competition Toronto Film Festival – Masters – Gala premiere
  • Newport Beach Film Festival :
  • Best film in all categories
  • Best foreign film

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  • Best actor winner Colm Meaney
  • 1998 The Powder Keg ( aka Cabaret Balkan in USA) (Bure baruta) In the USA – (released through PARAMOUNT Classics) Venice Film Festival: International Critics Prize – Best film in all categories EUROPEAN
  • CRITICS AWARD for the best European film 1998 American National Film Board of Review Awards – Voted one of the top five best foreign language films 1999 in the USA Toronto Film Festival: Masters Santa
  • Barbara (USA) Film Festival – Grand Prize Haifa (Israel) Film Festival – Grand Prize Antalya (Turkey) Film Festival – Grand Prize
  • 1995 – Someone Else’s America (Tudja America) – (in English) Cannes Film Festival (Directors’ Fortnight) – Audience Award Valladolid Film Festival – Grand Prize (Golden Spike)
  • 1992 – Tango Argentino (Tango Argentino) Venice Film Festival – Audience Award San Francisco Film Festival – Audience Award
  • 1990 – Time of Miracles (Vreme cuda) Cannes Film Festival (Directors’ Fortnight) San Sebastian Film Festival – International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI)
  • 1987 – Guardian Angel (Andjeo cuvar) Cannes Film Festival (Directors’ Fortnight)
  • 1984 – The Elusive Summer of ’68 (Varljivo leto ’68)
  • 1982 – Twilight Time (Suton) (in English) (Produced for MGM/UA, starring Karl Malden) Chicago Film Festival – Grand Prize UNICEF Grand Prize
  • 1980 – Special Treatment (Poseban Tretman) Cannes Film Festival (competition) – Best supporting actress (Milena Dravic) Golden Globe Hollywood – Nomination for Best Foreign Film
  • 1979 – …And the Days are Passing (Zemaljski dani teku) Venice Film Festival (competition)
  • 1978 – The Dog who Loved Trains (Pas koji je voleo vozove) Berlin Film Festival (competition)
  • 1976 – Beach Guard in Winter (Cuvar plaze u zimskom periodu) Berlin Film Festival (competition), International Critics Prize



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