Ivan & Ivana

Ivan & Ivana

Directed by: Jeff Silva
89 minutes

US Premiere

English and Serbian with English subtitles

In many movies about survivors of war, the happy ending consists of their arrival in the United States, where life for them—we are led to believe—will finally be stable and free. IVAN & IVANA does not exactly begin where those other films leave off; rather, it begins nearly six years after the titular couple arrives in the U.S. after leaving a devastated Kosovo. Living in sunny San Diego with a house and a couple of expensive cars, the charismatic duo at first seems, inexplicably, to have achieved the American Dream in only a few short years. But a mere scratch below this shiny surface reveals that Ivan and Ivana have fallen into the American nightmare: they are drowning in debt, much of it incurred during the real estate bubble.

Over the course of the next five years, director Jeff Silva pays visits to Ivan and Ivana to see how life in America has changed them. The result is an intimate portrait of a couple, told through snapshots of their everyday lives amid profound global events. Though the film’s scope is, in many ways, enormous—from the effects of U.S. involvement in the Kosovo war to the global economic recession—its focus is very personal, as Ivan and Ivana draw us in like old friends, always ready with a sarcastic quip as they reveal their vulnerabilities with striking honesty and a heavy dose of irony.

—Kristina Aikens