Cast & Crew
Marko Sekulovic immigrated to the United States from Yugoslavia. Now, twenty years later, the widowed he goes back to his homeland to retire. Living once again in his hometown, Marko takes care of his two grandchildren, trying to instill in them pride in their country and a strong work ethic.
The movie was a labor of love for its star Karl Malden, who saw his role as an opportunity to honor his Yugoslavian heritage. His late father had been a Serbian immigrant who, like many others, had come to the United States with hopes for a better life. Malden's birth name was Mladen Sekulovich, and though he had been raised in the U.S., he didn't speak a word of English until he started kindergarten. His success as an actor was a source of pride for his family and a true testament to the American Dream.
The Twilight Time project grew out of Malden's friendship with Los Angeles restaurateur Dan Tana, who was Serbian and lived part of the year off the coast of Yugoslavia. Like many people in L.A., Tana harbored a secret desire to be in the movie business as a producer. Malden and Tana would often discuss how no good films seemed to be coming out of Yugoslavia at that time. Tana was confident that the country had all the resources it needed to make a good film, but good scripts were hard to come by. Malden decided to partner with his friend and give him a chance to break into the movie business. "I told (Tana) to start hunting for a story we could both believe in," said Malden in his 1997 autobiography When Do I Start?, "and we would see what we could do."
Tana found the story of Twilight Time, and the simplicity of it appealed to both him and Malden. Tana founded the company Dan Tana Productions and raised $3 million dollars for the production--half of the money coming from MGM, and the other half coming from private investors.
The cast and crew flew to Yugoslavia to begin production in early 1982. Principal shooting took place mostly in a tiny village called Bouzet about an hour outside of Trieste. The village was so small that there was only one hotel in town, which the cast and crew promptly took over, often doubling up together and sharing rooms since the hotel had only 60 rooms.
One of the challenges of Twilight Time for Karl Malden was that his character was supposed to be a good dancer. To prepare for a scene in which he had to dance, Malden had hired legendary choreographer Marge Champion to work with him back in Los Angeles before shooting began. Champion choreographed a delightful short number for him to perform in the film, and Malden loved it. He spent hours practicing his routine once on location in Yugoslavia. "I'm sure the villagers thought I was crazy when they saw me out there after we had wrapped the day's shooting," said Malden, "rehearsing my dance all alone in the town square."
As he expected, playing the role of Marko Sekulovic made Malden feel very connected to his father. "In any situation that arose in the story," he said, "I just asked myself, 'What would Pa do? How would he react?'...The experience filled me with a strange sense of déjà vu, a nostalgia for a time and place that were not really a part of my own past, but of my father's."
Working in the village of Bouzet was a life changing experience for Malden. "The makeup of the village where we were working," he said, "mirrored the village in the story. Old people and children. Almost everyone in between had left the country to earn a living elsewhere...they sent money home from Germany and other places-money and promises to send for the rest of the family." Malden loved working and living so closely with the locals, which gave him a deeper understanding of his family roots. "After two months of living with these people, these peasants-of eating every meal with them and working with them," he said, "I knew who they were and where my folks had come from. These were people who had nothing, but whatever they did have was yours if you needed it."
Though Twilight Time failed to generate many ticket sales, critics had nothing but praise for Karl Malden's performance. "It's a curious hybrid," said the New York Times, "and at unexpected moments a gentle and touching one, particularly whenever Yugoslav-born Karl Malden has an opportunity to make the most of his role...Mr. Malden carries Twilight Time as well as it can be carried, and he gives it a very effective measure of compassion and humanity."
Twilight Time remains a personal favorite of Karl Malden. "I know that no one saw Twilight Time," he said, "but filming in this little Yugoslavian village proved to be one of those rare and special experiences that only come a handful of times during a career."
Producer: Dan Tana, Andrew Wood, Milan Zmukic
Director: Goran Paskaljevic
Screenplay: Goran Paskaljevic, Filip David, Dan Tana
Cinematography: Tomislav Pinter
Film Editing: Olga Skrigin
Art Direction: Niko Matul
Music: Walter Scharf
Cast: Karl Malden (Marko Sekulovic), Jodi Thelen (Lana), Damien Nash (Ivan), Mia Roth (Ana), Pavle Vujisic (Pashko), Dragan Maksimovic (Tony).
by Andrea Passafiume
Released in United States 1982
Released in United States May 19, 1989
Shown at Cannes Film Festival (market) May 19, 1989.
English language debut for Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic.
Released in United States 1982
Released in United States May 19, 1989 (Shown at Cannes Film Festival (market) May 19, 1989.)