Dennis Todorovic makes a startling and emotive feature centering on a frustrated young man, Sasha (played by debutant, Sasha Kekez), a would be pianist who dreams of studying at a conservatoire in his home town of Cologne, Germany.
Sasha though harbours a secret crush on his piano tutor, Gebhard Weber (Tim Bergmann), who is leaving for Vienna for a new job. This announcement from Mr.Weber acts as the cause and effect of the piece, his leaving prompts Sasha to search his soul and declare to his best friend, Jiao (Yvonne Hung Hee) that he is gay.
The scene when Sasha comes out Jiao is one of aching heartbreak; she is expecting a declaration of love yet the film handles the scene beautifully shot against a lovely backdrop of the main river.
Once Sasha comes out, Jiao pretends to be his girlfriend to hide the fact from his homophobic father Vlado (Predrag Bjelac), a deadbeat Dad who never fulfilled his potential and lives vicariously through Sasha's achievements. He is married to Stanka (Zeljka Preksavec), a beauty compared to the beast like Vlado. She adores her son Sasha, yet so many of the film is concerned about identity and becoming who you are.
The film begins with the family, of Serbian heritage crossing the border into Germany. Immediately they are tarred with the outsider tag of being an immigrant, Sasha feels stressed to succeed at the piano due to the pressure of his parents. Sasha's breakdown at his audition is marked for being a scene of raw emotion, thanks to the wonderful central performance by Kekez who enfuses his namesake with a mixture of optimism and cynicism, a product of nature and nuture colliding and going hand in hand.
Todorovic has a real confidence in his use of soundtrack the mix of classical and vintage music in comparison to the techno music to endorse the bold and new direction of the family and the decisions they must all make. The film is as much about acceptance as just another gay movie.
The acting is all done well, a real naturalism stems from many of the performances - except Ljubisa Gruicic's performance as Uncle Pero, a role of comic relief that feels a little forced at times - and this is a really well directed and acted piece of cinema, which although can be categorised as queer cinema is anything but.
Sasha is released by Peccadillo Pictures and is out now on DVD.