Popular Montenegrin actor Momcilo Otasevic first came onto our radar at the 5th edition of the GFF as the lead in After the Winter, a film that has been very has been well received internationally and at home.

Despite his hectic schedule, Cairo West managed to tear him away from filming a new series in Croatia long enough to learn more about him and see how he enjoyed his first visit to Egypt.

Was this your first visit to the El Gouna Film Festival? How was the experience?

This was my first visit to Egypt, and to GFF of course, and I was so happy to have the opportunity to enjoy the captivating environment and the ancient civilization of the country. My thanks must go to Samih Sawiris and the GFF organizers of this festival, which I am sure will become very relevant in the industry. Momcilo Otasevic

How important is it for countries to have the opportunity to showcase their films in festivals like GFF?

Our Montenegrin film industry is flourishing, although we are a small country, so we feel it is very important to be able to participate in film festivals like GFF.

In After the Winter, a group of childhood friends maintain their ties in spite of the division of their country into smaller nations. What can you tell us about the storyline?

This film tells us the reality of living in a small country where there are few opportunities, so therefore people are forced to emigrate to other countries. You lose your feeling of belonging to one specific place, you feel that your identity is split and you belong to many different places. Momcilo Otasevic

In a way, I also live that reality, as I live in Zagreb and sometimes I miss my family so much, and the environment of my home town, although I am very grateful to Zagreb for giving me the opportunity to work and progress.

The film tells the story of five friends and how difficult it is to carry on their relationship when they are dispersed and have uncertainty about their work, their personal relationships and futures.

And what can you tell us about your role in the film?

I play one of the five friends who is always willing to make sacrifices for the other friends, someone who wants to help them in their situations. I have always had a tendency to be like that in my personal life, and I have friends scattered all around the former Yugoslavia so this is a big part of my identification with this role.

I am also friends with the other actors in this movie and I am amazed by the chemistry we have created. I have a deep connection with all four other main actors, through school, university and the academy, and through meeting on the set.

This was a debut feature for the director Ivan Bakrač. What excited you most about working on this film with him?

When he gave me the script I was thrilled to read a story with such warmth and depth. I immediately decided to grab a role in the film, and he suggested that I choose the role I felt was most suited to me. The whole process of working with him was amazing and I am sure he will have a great future. Momcilo Otasevic

What can you tell us about the Montenegro film industry?

There is a lot of creativity in Montenegro, with a lot of theatre. You don’t have many opportunities to make movies, as there is a small market as well. Of course, we are very thankful for any private body that offers support in this.

Where do you see the local industry going in the coming few years?

I think the future of the industry lies in co-production with neighbors like Croatia and Serbia, and other regional countries. Apart from that, festivals like GFF are important for our actors and directors, we are very grateful for these opportunities.

Take us back to the beginning, how did you break into acting?

I grew up in Cetinje, an old, historical town with interesting monuments, but in the period when I grew up, we had very few drama classes. My friends and I were the first ones to start experimenting in that direction. Momcilo Otasevic

It was a brave step, and when I finished school, I still wasn’t sure about continuing to be an actor, as it was a career with no financial guarantees. I decided to go to Rome, to find myself and think about it. After one year, I returned home and started at the Academy of Dramatic Arts.

The same year, because I wasn’t sure what my occupation would be, I also applied to the Faculty of Architecture in Rome, tourism in Cyprus and law in university in Montenegro. I was in a huge dilemma as to what I was going to study.

What advice would you give to young actors trying to make a name for themselves?

Don’t give up on your dreams, be confident, read, explore life, and be determined that you want to achieve results.

Quick-fire Round:

Your favorite way to relax? I enjoy carpentry, being in touch with the soil, being close to nature in the area where my grandparents grew up. To be free and away from the stress of the modern world.

Best book you have read? For me, Animal Farm, it is an amazing book.

Comfort food? Traditional Montenegrin dishes, cheese, and Italian dishes.

Romantic or realist? Romantic, definitely.

Items of clothing you hang on to? Well, although people have tried to convince me to wear a suit, I like clothes that make me feel comfortable.

Last question:

If you had a weekend to show a visitor the things you love most about your country, what would be on the agenda?

Many visitors say that Montenegro is all beautiful, with every municipality being special. Montenegro is shared between seaside and mountainous areas, I would take you to the medieval town of Kotor, then it would take around 40 minutes to get to Cetinje, our old capital.

I would take you to the National Museum, then to Njeguši, an old village with amazing views. After that, we would go to the north of Montenegro to Tara, where the river forms a canyon second only to the Grand Canyon in the United States. Then we would go to Lovćen, then turn south again. The whole trip would only take around a few hours.

Amir Ramses: Writer & Director of Curfew