Private Project

Cell 9

The teen metal band Cell 9 must decide whether to play their heavy metal music for their last performance or succumb to the threats of the principal of the high school they're playing.

  • John Sarkanjac
    Last Light, Ace
  • John Sarkanjac
    Last Light, Ace
  • John Sarkanjac
    Last Light, Ace
  • Petar Sarkanjac
  • Stefan Spasov
    Key Cast
  • Kire Acevski
    Key Cast
  • Chedomir Mitevski
    Key Cast
  • Darko Ristovski
    Key Cast
  • Tomislav Davidovski
    Key Cast
  • Arna Shijak
    Key Cast
    "The Principal"
  • Marija Janchevska
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Teen
  • Runtime:
    17 minutes 17 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 29, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
    Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
  • Country of Filming:
    Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - John Sarkanjac

John is a passionate and dedicated filmmaker with a deep belief in the power of storytelling. With a background in film and television studies, he has excelled in various management roles on international film festivals, witnessing the profound impact of cinema on audiences. John's diverse portfolio includes award-winning short films, revitalizing a cult national television show as a screenwriter, and directing widely recognized indie films. His versatility extends to the video game industry, where he has created record-breaking advertisements for a leading mobile gaming company. With exceptional organizational skills and a passion for collaboration, John is committed to growing a cinematic future and amplifying underrepresented voices in the industry.

As a proactive and dedicated director, John strives to exceed expectations and provide audiences with compelling stories. His expertise spans screenwriting, editing, music supervision, and directing. With an unwavering commitment to storytelling and a wealth of experience, John is poised to continue creating meaningful and impactful films that resonate with audiences worldwide.

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Director Statement

Cell 9 is a personal story that explores the power of music and the resilience of youth in the face of oppression. It marks my confrontation with the tyranny of a school principal that didn’t care about the children for which she was responsible.

In the post-socialist society such as Macedonia, the “winds of change” brought little to quality of life. The misery and corruption that were supposed to be abolished with the transition to capitalism, were instead intensified.

One thing is certain, Balkan “turbo-folk” music thrives.
It is the dominant popular genre in the new, “free” market, and it rules the TV and radio waves, leaving little space for alternative music.

In my society, rock and metal music are expelled.

Cell 9 becomes a story about several young heavy metal musicians attempting to stage a concert in a high school, even as they face the obstacle of the principal, a party-appointed, “market-oriented”, ardent advocate of turbo-folk.
The band harbors a sense of resentment towards the corrupt principal, and this is not born out of rebellion “without a cause”. Theirs is rather a morally rightful stance despite their naive understanding of society.
They don’t identify as metalheads themselves, and their choice to play heavy metal music symbolizes the broader aspirations of today's youth. They are open and inclusive, they seek understanding, freedom, and an environment that values their individuality. They are sociable and “sunny”, in the sense that they love life and the beauty they find in the world. Cell 9 is different from rebels like the 70’s punkers.

The youth's positive energy risks crashing against a society that is no longer able to speak to young people, which does not have the same arguments as them. I see this film as a contemporary take, a depiction of the conflict between older and younger generations. While it’s clear to me now that the principal was far from it, back then in our eyes she was as ruthless and menacing as a Titan and our confrontation with her was a titanomachy. We were that much overwhelmed.

Only through our music, determination and help from our friends were we able to find our voice and stand up against oppression together.

Through the film, I seek to capture the resilience, courage, and creativity of young individuals who refuse to be silenced. Their journey resonates with the innate human desire for self-expression and the pursuit of a more inclusive and understanding society.