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Beta Boards ‘Operation Sabre’ about Zoran Đinđić

Beta Film has acquired international distribution rights to Serbian crime thriller “Operation Sabre” (“Sablja”) about the assassination of the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić.

The eight-hour series – selected for Canneseries’ Long Form Competition – is created and directed by Goran Stanković and Vladimir Tagić. The duo already collaborated on “Morning Changes Everything” and wrote the new show alongside Dejan Prćić, Maja Pelević and Marjan Alčevs.

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Heading back to March 12, 2003, Stanković and Tagić show the aftermath of the killing that threw the whole country into chaos – only one year after the beginning of the trial against former president Slobodan Milošević, indicted in 1999 for war crimes.

Đinđić, who served as PM from 2001, following a stint as mayor of Belgrade, advocated pro-democratic reforms. He was also one of the co-leaders of the opposition to Milošević’s administration.

“Operation Sabre” is produced by Snezana van Houwelingen for This and That Productions, in co-production with Martichka Bozhilova (Agitprop) for Radio Television of Serbia.

“Zoran Đinđić played a key role in the democratic movement that led to the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević’s regime. He still represents an important figure in contemporary Serbian history, 21 years after his assassination,” said Stanković, Tagić and van Houwelingen in a joint statement shared with Variety.

“He’s often mentioned as a symbol of the struggle for democracy, reform, rule of law and European integration of Serbia. As a charismatic and visionary leader, he implemented crucial reforms aimed at modernizing the country and aligning it with European values and institutions. However, his reformist agenda faced strong opposition from vested interests and nationalist forces, leading to political turmoil and threats to his life,” they added.

His death left a “lasting impact on Serbia’s trajectory.”

In the show, young reporter Danica tries to investigate the real story behind it with the help of police inspector Ljuba, tasked with finding Ðindic’s killer. On the other side of the law, petty criminal Uroš has to deal with the fact that he works for those who ordered the murder: the powerful – and violent – Serbian Mafia.

Dragan Mićanović stars as Zoran Đinđić, joined by Milica Gojkovic, Fedja Štukan (spotted in “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”) and Lazar Tasić. Jasna Ðuricic (“Quo Vadis, Aida?”) and Zlatko Burić (“Triangle of Sadness”) round up the cast.

“People who fight for change and a better society are always a timely topic. The circular nature of history is definitely something we had in mind when making the show. Discussing the legacy and impact of leaders like Zoran Đinđić in the context of current events in Europe, such as the situation with Alexei Navalny in Russia, remains a compelling and relevant topic,” they said, referencing another recent tragedy.

Alexei Navalny, one of the most prominent critics of Russian president Vladimir Putin, died on Feb. 16.

“These discussions can shed light on the challenges faced by those advocating for democracy, the rule of law and human rights worldwide. They emphasize the importance of standing by these principles despite obstacles and threats to political freedom.”

“By exploring the parallels and differences in the experiences of figures like Đinđić and Navalny, we deepen our understanding of the complexities of political transitions and the struggles for democracy in the contemporary world.”

The show was “thoroughly researched,” they admitted, with the whole process taking Stanković and Tagić around four years.

“We talked to reliable witnesses, read court transcripts, testimonies and official police documentation. We talked to police inspectors that ran Operation Sabre. Once we gathered all the available information, we decided to focus on three fictional characters,” they observed.

“We wanted to tell this story even more today, when democracy is being increasingly fragile across the world. We wanted to shine a light on a politician who wanted to change a country that was deeply divided and torn apart.”

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