The Fourteenth Day (Dan Četrnaesti): a Yugoslavian masterpiece by Zdravko Velimirović

Picture of the movie Dan Četrnaesti (The Fourteenth Day) © DR


The title of The Fourteenth Day (Dan Četrnaesti) is a reference to the fourteen days of freedom given to the four protagonists in Zdravko Velimirović's film, under the more permissive rule of Tito, the President of Yugoslavia. In Competition at the Festival de Cannes in 1961, the film follows the different paths taken by these four characters, and is presented here as part of Cannes Classics in a restored version. The director's son Mladen Velimirović discusses his father's work.

How would your father react if he knew he was selected at the Cannes Classics selection sixty years after his film was selected for the Cannes Festival? Did he talk to you about the Festival?  

I think my father would be satisfied that his film was restored, selected for Cannes 2021 and therefore given a new life. He told me Cannes 1961 was glamorous, audiences and journalists praised the film, and that the jury ranked the film highly in its evaluations. Having his first feature film and already among the best in the world in such a festival was a special feeling. He explained that in the film industry, participation in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival was considered an award in itself. He mentioned many film stars participating. They were mainly older than Zdravko and included Henri Colpi, Luis Buñuel, René Clément, Sophia Loren, Alain Delon, and Gina Lollobrigida. The Fourteenth Day (Dan Četrnaesti) is to be screened this year in Cannes at the Buñuel Theater, named by the winner of 1961. My father and his long term friend, the screenwriter and novelist Borislav Pekić (Petrović) and lead actors represented the film in Cannes together.

“It was my father’s first feature film; he was barely thirty and he had already been chosen to take part in one of the best festivals in the world.”

Did The Fourteenth Day (Dan Četrnaesti) hold a special place for him in his filmography? 

It was special. He had already made several documentaries and had graduated in film from the IDHEC Paris academy in 1957. He made the The Fourteenth Day (Dan Četrnaesti), his first feature film in 1960 and it was selected for Cannes in May 1961. He was proud to represent the Balkans and the former Yugoslavia, with a certain French influence, because after his studies in Paris, he always stayed connected to international culture, particularly the French cultural world.

What was it like to direct a movie in the sixties in Yugoslavia? 

Yugoslav cinematography is very rich, culturally. According to Tomislav Gavrić, critic and author of a monograph about my father, my father introduced some new ways of filming to the country.

The Fourteenth Day (Dan Četrnaesti) was considered to be beautiful, with a humanist outlook. it was also the first film to raise political questions in Yugoslavia, because it depicts the wave of political imprisonments which took place under Tito. Having said that, there were also many positive aspects to Yugoslavia. Throughout his career, in all his feature and documentary films, he explored, with tolerance and passion, cultures, traditions, varied religions, humanity and above all the connection between goodness and beauty, particularly the inner beauty in people. I share the opinion of Mr Gavrić and other critics that Zdravko Velimirović's films will be rehabilitated, and studied even more in the future, as they represesnt the outstanding culture of Yugoslavia and European and world film heritage.


He was a professor as well as a director. What was it like to grow up alongside someone like that? 

It was fascinating. He had a wide outlook and knowledge and he was intensely inspiring. My mother, the producer and director Ranka Velimirović, was his great support as they worked and lived together. She also took on many responsibilities out of love,  recognizing that Zdravko should focus on the creation of great art and his extensive research. After his death she made two documentaries about him. My sister Milica Velimirović and I have fallen under the family influence and are film makers too. We practically grew up visiting our parents film shoots. As Zdravko was also professor, he would sometimes invite his university students (many now successful filmmakers) to our home as well, to discuss their ideas and guide them further with their student film projects. We also had visitors from the cultural elite: actors, directors, writers, painters and others. I would always sit nearby as a kid, enjoying listening to the interesting discussions and the chance to be around my busy, charismatic and good-hearted father Zdravko.