Radmilo (Milos Samolov) and Mirko (Goran Jevtic) are a gay couple living in the very homophobic surroundings of Belgrade, Serbia. Mirko is trying to organise a gay pride parade against the backdrop of massive public resentment and the constant threat of attack by skinheads.
Into their life comes solider turned gangster Limun (Nikola Kojo), who initially holds vet Radmilo at gunpoint and demands he treat his dog. He then comes across Mirko, who’s supposed to be organising his wedding to Biserka (Hristina Popovic). When Limun realises that Radmilo and Mirko are a couple he is furious at being confronted by gays and ends up assaulting Mirko.
The more tolerant Biserka is furious, both at Limun’s attitude and the fact Mirko now doesn’t want to organise her wedding – indeed Mirko is so furious at the homophobia he’s surrounded with that he wants to leave the country. As a result Radmilo comes to Limun with a proposition – Limun will get his gangster friends to provide security for the pride parade (which will hopefully stop Mirko emigrating), and in returns Radmilo will get Mirko to organise the wedding.
Limun doesn’t really want to help gay people and he knows his friends hate them as much as he does. However as the two begin to work together, Limun’s attitude begins to change.
The Parade is a rather unusual movie that juggles disparate tones and ideas that you wouldn’t think would work together, but which it mostly manages to make work. There are some very dark themes and the movie doesn’t shy away from the rather terrifying situation for gay people in Serbia (and indeed in much of Eastern Europe), where they’re under constant threat of attack and society is incredibly hostile towards them.
While we still have problems in the West, when you see a movie like this it makes you realise how far we’ve come in terms of gay rights and acceptance. It’s not like the movie is exaggerating either, as in 2001 an attempt to hold a pride parade ended in bloodshed. While the country has moved towards giving more legal rights to gay people (in marked contrast to some other countries in the area, such as Russia), society has remained hostile. It wasn’t until 2010 that the first pride parade took place, but even then the 1,000 participants were outnumbered by both the police sent to protect them and the 6,000 anti-gay protesters who turned up (some of this history is dealt with in the movie).
However, while it may play out against a rather scary, violent and prejudiced backdrop, the movie is a comedy with a fairly broad sense of humour and plenty of pretty dark jokes. A lot of it is very funny, well-paced and very entertaining.
For the majority of its running time it does a good job of balancing its social commentary with its laughs, including the rather interesting idea that Limun is fine with the people he fought against in the Kosovo War (indeed it’s many of them he teams up with to provide protection), but still loathes gay people who have never been a threat to him at all. That said, there are some who may feel the tone at the end is a little heavy-handed. The Parade wants to give a sense of hope while ensuring we know the situation is still very, very dangerous. However some will find the film’s move between the two takes things a little too far.
Overall Verdict: A surprisingly funny film that mostly manages to pull off a tricky balance between (often rather black) comedy and full-throated anger at the violence and prejudice gay Serbians face on a daily basis. The ending may not quite maintain that balance, but it’s still effective.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac