Erased (Izbrisana) (2018)

Erased (Izbrisana) first published by EyeforFilm

“Everything will be fine,” is an expression that becomes a leitmotif in Erased (Izbrisana), even as a paper trail mounts pointing in the opposite direction. Directed by Miha Mazzini and Dusan Joksimovic from Mazzini’s novel of the same name, this Kafkaesque drama certainly begins with a vision of hope for the future: kindergarten teacher Ana (Judita Frankovic) in a taxi caressing her own heavily pregnant belly as she heads to the hospital to give birth. We briefly hear a news report about the breakup of former Yugoslavia into independent states, but the driver switches over to some easy jazz, hinting at an entire nation’s wilful blindness to the realities all around. Once at the hospital, Ana finds herself in a downward spiral of trouble, as everything that she has taken for granted is quickly stripped away: her identity (both literal and metaphorical), her rights, her prospects and even her newborn daughter. 

Required to show her ID at the hospital’s reception, the ethnically Serbian and Croatian Ana discovers that she has become one of Slovenia’s thousands of ‘Erased‘, paperless, disenfranchised and stateless within their own birthplace. As she struggles doggedly against a hostile bureaucracy, she also finds that there are limits to the sympathy of her colleagues, lovers and neighbours in a society that would prefer to toe the line and pretend that this problem does not exist. The difficulty here is accepting that a self-made bourgeoise like Ana could herself be caught so utterly unawares by this sweeping legislative change, but once it is accepted that she has been as oblivious as native Slovenians, she makes an effective cicerone through the nightmarish labyrinth of the Eraseds’ alienation. The filmmaking is a little pedestrian, and one scene – in which Ana puts on a cheery face as she dances for her delighted former pupils – goes on far too long, but this is a compelling and not very well known story, which deals in part with its own invisibility in the media.

© Anton Bitel