TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


Dark Mother Earth

Rok Biček, Kristian Novak

Croatia, Slovenia


1991. In a small Croatian village there were eight unexplained suicides in just two months. A small boy was somehow connected to all of them.
Twenty years later, Matija has reinvented his past and created false memories. When he loses everything, he embarks on a quest to recreate his childhood.
As a 6-year-old, Matija struggled to understand the sudden death of his father. His mother and sister were not able to explain death to him, so he escaped into a world of fantasy. At first, people from the village supported Matija and his family. But when the boy began to act strangely, rumours spread connecting him to the suicides.
The family became isolated. The only friend Matija had was Franjo, an abused child from a family of alcoholics. But it was not enough. Both boys desperately wanted to belong to the community. The difference between them was that Franjo would never have sacrificed their friendship for the approval of their fellow villagers.


This story is an intimate portrait of a nation unwilling to look in the mirror. The events in this rural village through which the story is told are not frightening per se. They become terrifying in the imaginary world in which the children take refuge when they can no longer cope with cruel reality.
The impending war in the Balkans runs like a current through this story in which polar opposites meet: friendship and betrayal, belonging and isolation, grief and comfort, making us understand that ending vicious circles is all about taking responsibility on an individual and collective level. Without facing our demons, the circle will never be broken. Failed relationships will haunt us. Suicides will haunt us. Wars will come back.
This story gives me an opportunity to plunge once again into the themes I have been dealing with in my movies and revisit those feelings. The sense of closure and relief achieved by dealing with suppressed emotions, connects me to the experience the author had by writing the novel.
One of the most important themes is the fact that all of us were either betrayed or betrayers in our formative years. Those of us who grew up in ex-Yugoslavia, were usually both.

A boy is blamed for 8 suicides in his village. Years later he finds he was only responsible for one.
Rok Biček

Scriptwriter, Film Director

Kristian Novak

Writer, Scriptwriter

production notes

original title
Črna Mati Zemla

directed by
Rok Biček

produced byAntitalent
B.J.Jelacica 54
10290, Zapresic

in co-production with
Cvinger Film – Slovenia

written by
Rok Biček
Kristian Novak

total production budget
€ 1.500.000