July 1, 2012

Aćim Vasić Wins a Place Amongst Partizan's Director Ranks with Career Launching Short '8'

When it becomes easier to quantify the amount of shorts you crunch through in a typical week as 'hours' rather than 'films' watched, a filmmaker has to create something rather special for it to stick in your mind. I can't recall exactly where or when I first saw Serbian director Aćim Vasić's oneupmanship war short 8, but it's an unmistakably great example of low budget filmmaking, and I'm happy to say that the 2010 short has finally made its way online curtesy of Vasić's new production home Partizan:

Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/43812420

Due to past experiences where the need for extensive budget raising had hampered his directorial ambitions, Vasić consciously decided to scale things back to a level that would enable him to deliver a relatively low budget short, although it still took the director around 18 months to raise the finance and put things in place with Swiss producer Luc Walpoth for his 5 day shoot:

"I wrote a WW2 script about 4 years before this one, but I never managed to realize it, because of money and other smaller problems. So one day I thought about why don’t I just do something cheaper, but still in the war…just 2 actors…simple conflict…and the idea came out."

Given 8's lack of dialogue, stunning cinematography and perfectly handled tonal shifts as the advantage flits between X (Nicky Naude) and O (Guillaume Tavi), both of whom give beautifully nuanced performances, you'd think that the short would be the perfect candidate for an extended worldwide festival run. However, aside from taking Best Short Film at Monfilmfest, 8 seems to have bypassed much of the festival circuit hoopla. The film festival vs. web argument is something we've taken a great interest in along with many others, but with 8 only just making its way online Vasić appears to have taken a third, more direct route to building his career and getting a foot in the door at Partizan:

"It took lots of persistence to get in touch with them, and in the end they saw and liked the short and we had a meeting and decided to try and see how it goes in our new relationship. Hopefully it will be fruitful for everyone."

It's hard to fault an approach that looks to have paid off so well. What creative approaches have you used to land that dream gig?

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Behind the Scenes Stills

Your Comment


Well the weakness in the plot is that the captive who isn't on the mine could have kept running away, even if beat up as much as he then was. The guy on the mine is stuck no matter what. He'll presumably die once he falls asleep and lets go of the mine. The captive has some chance of getting back to his unit, but really no chance of advancing his case so much via negotiation, there's nothing apparently the guy on the mine could do to help him. It is as if the captive simply developed learned helplessness (which is something that could have been exposited better if so, it instead seems he is merely exhausted). The addition of, for instance, medical supplies on the captor that the captive would need to negotiate for would have been an economical addition to the plot creating a genuine necessity of reconciliation that is missing...and denies this otherwise very well made short the conceptual brillance it skirts.

It's gotta be in the script. This is a test of genius above all else.

July 2, 2012 at 12:10AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I believe it was O's intention to keep running away but he was provoked into attempting to kill X by the knife in the shoulder, which is what sees him end up in the same predicament with his own mine.

July 2, 2012 at 2:19AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Ahh you are right. But this escaped me that he was on another mine. I had thought that the sound of the mine engaging was simply that he had run out of ammunition and the gun didn't fire.

This highlights an even more important point about direction: ensuring everyone "gets it" whilst at the same time not being "on the nose." In this case, the reverberant sound and tilt up and down as O looks to the ground is all we get as an indication he is also on a mine. He didn't make a clear additional step onto new ground, just reloaded. Didn't uncover the mine as X did before. That was enough for you, but not enough for me (you can argue I wasn't thinking carefully enough). And thus I go out and criticize the film as not so very good...how many gatekeepers of festivals and such also missed this key element of the conclusion?

I once had a talk with the creator of the Halo videogames, some 15 years ago now, and he told me, ironically, that his most important goal was making games easier and easier to play. Rather than harder as one might expect. I think this is lost on some younger directors I know as well. They try to avoid being on the nose and invoke deeper meaning and layers of mystery and such...but success involves ensuring as much of your audience gets through that obstacle course successfully as you can manage. Movies shouldn't be an IQ test for the viewer (though I just got done saying they are for the writer)...they should make us feel smart for figuring them out ourselves, with the writer and director carefully hiding how easy that is.

Otherwise all the people that didn't get it will be too humiliated to discuss the film and recommend it etc.

July 2, 2012 at 9:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I think some of the most interesting shorts *are* basically IQ tests... Since we're talking about shorts, repeat viewings are easy. Complex ideas can be more so much more interesting and satisfying than the slow motion beautiful-woman-running-her-hand-through-her-hair type of shorts that don't have real plots, just moods...you know...and the soundtrack is either a single violin or piano...etc, etc...(I'm thinking of that particular film posted about on NFS with the still photographer and his wife and they argue a lot...)

With really complex shorts, I'm thinking about a couple of the Aeon Flux silent shorts, specifically the one with the drain plug and the elevators, or the one with the security camera with a loose connection... It took me a couple times to even know what I was watching, and when you "get it", it's ultimately incredibly satisfying.

I really enjoyed 8... It reminded me of the great animated short, Balance...in some ways, it's got a few similar themes.


I got that "O" stepped on a mine himself on first viewing...particularly b/c besides the sound, it cuts to that angle looking up with his boot in the foreground...but I get that general complaint that a lot of, often newer, filmmakers trying to be elusive and complex and multi-layered to the point that the basic idea doesn't come across, or things that should be clear aren't.

Sometimes, it's just knowing the material. A lot of reviews say Inception is cold and emotionless and Nolan is just good at the technical...etc...I think that the problem with people who say that about that particular movie just don't get it. It's entirely emotional...but you can't get that on initial viewings sometimes b/c you don't understand the plot enough to get that, to know where the characters are emotionally. When someone like Nolan who has a body of work with things like this, you know it's there, and that ultimately, you can watch it again and again, and get more out of it...whereas a first time filmmaker with a short...you don't know if there is actually all that stuff in there or not.

July 11, 2012 at 12:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Daniel Mimura

I'm usually not big on war shorts, but I have to say, I quite enjoyed this.

July 2, 2012 at 7:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I thought it was somewhat well made, but didn't like it as a short. I thought the plot was weak especially for a short.

July 2, 2012 at 8:55AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


great short indeed :)

July 3, 2012 at 9:24AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Weird movie, but great direction. I would like to see more of his short films. Do you have links to his other movies?

July 3, 2012 at 2:19PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


November 7, 2014 at 3:28AM

Jason K