Open City Docs Review: Once Upon A Youth

Whilst it might not have seemed so at the time, your teenage years are the ones which will stay with you for the rest of your life. The music you listen to, the films you watch, the books you read and the people you shared those obsessions with. It’s a time of growth. Of transition from adolescence to adulthood. It’s probably the biggest personal change we, as humans, undertake. However, whilst most people move on with their lives, a few seem to get stuck in the moment.

Once Upon a Youth, the new documentary from Ivan Ramljak, focuses on this time and a relationship between the film-maker and the charismatic and popular Marko. Thirteen years after his unexpected death, using home video, photographs and interviews with those whose lives were touched by the Croatian photographer, he pieces together the story of a life. Trying to reconcile their relationship in the context of what happened next.

Once Upon A Youth is an unusual and affecting documentary which pieces together slivers of memory, snapshots in time and witness testimony to create an absorbing and colourful portrait of a complex character. This approach is remarkably successful. We get to know Marko through these accounts and are afforded a real sense of the how vibrant the Zagreb music scene was at the time. Once Upon A Youth is a lively mosaic of a place, time and complicated relationship.

Once Upon a Youth screens at Open City Documentary Festival between 12-15 September.  

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