Feature documentary film in the project development phase
The SAMPLE: The Return of Janko Nilović
Director: Nikola Vukcevic
Galileo production Montenegro under support of Film centre of Montenegro
Running time: 75 minutes


A famous musician (83 years old) accepts an invitation to hold a concert that could be his last one.
In search of the best sample of himself, this acclaimed artist will begin a journey, facing the danger of losing everything, even his life.

Screenplay: Nikola Vukcevic, Melina Pota Koljevic
Script consultant: Franz Rodenkirchen
Director of Photography: Bane Kljajic
Executive producer: Milorad Radenovic
Producers: Nikola Vukcevic, Milorad Radenovic


The celebrated eighty-three-year-old musician from France, Janko Nilović (born in Istanbul, Montenegrin roots), accepts an invitation to hold a concert and collaborate with musicians from his country of origin for the first time. In search of the best part of himself, looking for the essence and sample of his identity, this acclaimed artist will begin a journey, from Paris to Istanbul and Montenegro, a journey through time and place that will reconsider his youth – and find himself in danger of losing everything he has, even his life.

Eighty-three-year-old Janko Nilović is the winner of the world prestigious Grammy Award (2010),, world renowned and recognized French composer of Montenegrin roots, born in Istanbul, arranger, pianist and music producer who collaborated with some of the most important popular authors today and have been sampled from Jay Z, Dr Dre, Morcheeba… with great success. His undoubted worldwide recognition is based on the research of the Balkan and Turkish musical motifs and heritage. Although he has 32 albums behind him, over 80 official covers of his work, more than 50 samples and performances all over the world (including the Balkan countries), although Nilović always adds “Montenegro” to his name – but he has never been professionally engaged in Montenegro.

At the time of the call to Montenegro, Janko had just been discharged from the hospital (cancer) and his family strongly opposes to him leaving Paris for Montenegro via Istanbul. Janko’s desire is stronger than all circumstances – and he sets off on his journey through time and place (Istanbul and Montenegro) that will reconsider his youth and life.

On the way to Montenegro, Janko will briefly stay in Istanbul, the city where he was born, spent his youth and where he left a serious musical mark: in Turkish musical motifs of his art, which he returns to throughout his life, and in a reunion with the unforgettable Turkish musical hits he wrote for Dario Moreno (Her Akşam Votka, Rakı ve Şarap / Sarhoş), which survived their time as one of the greatest Turkish music hits of all time (the track that has had over 50 official covers to date).

In a twist of fate, the beloved musical composition penned by Janko, originally intended as a tribute to the joys of love and inebriation, now carries an entirely distinct undertone in today’s Turkey. The nation, which is gradually departing from its secular heritage, has seen a segment of its population construe this song as a promoter of indulgence and vice. The renowned Turkish musician, Guney Marlen, embarked on a poignant mission to perform this very song as a heartfelt homage to Janko, hoping to take him by surprise. However, the backdrop he chose for this meaningful gesture was Taksim Square, a place that was once emblematic of a secular and open-minded Turkey. Unfortunately, the reception Guney Marlen encountered from the passers-by in this evolving environment was far from welcoming, casting a shadow on the very essence of the once-liberal square.

Janko’s days on the Bosporus, between Europe and Asia, are their own journey through time. On a visit to the French embassy in Istanbul, where he spent his childhood due to his father’s work, he discovers that the house where he lived at the time has been demolished (a new house will be built on that site). This will cause strong emotions in Janko.

On this trip, eighty-three-year-old Nilović summarizes his experiences, analyzing the musical motives of his art – excited that he is going to play a concert in Montenegro for the first time and visit the native village of his ancestors (Livari, close to city of Bar in Montenegro – a place from where many people emigrated to Turkey, before the Second World War), examining a series of dramatic family circumstances (most notably: the loss of his father). The need to meet creators from his country of origin in a shared artistic collaboration is stronger than the fear of deteriorating health, and will make him reconsider and open the old wounds of the great creator.

However, when Janko arrives to his father’s village, the reception from the locals is far from warm. They are gripped by fear, concerned that Janko might assert a claim on his father’s estate, leading to an atmosphere of suspicion and discomfort. Janko’s departure from the village is marked by visible dissatisfaction, as he reflects on his journey to Montenegro, risking his fragile health, and deeply regretting the decision.

At the end of this story, while showing the power of music and art and the need to leave a lasting mark (and measure the recognition) in one’s family, the film will pose the question of how far and deep a top artist is ready to go in search for the perfect melody, as well as whether Nilović has searched for his father all his life, in a persistent (re)examination of his identity?

At the end, will Nilović discover the depths of the motives of his creativity, re-examining the old family wounds of this great creator, exploring the matter of childhood trauma that lead to the purification of his art, while simultaneously posing a question of whether it is the creator that shapes his own memory or if it is the experience that forms a future artist. At the end of the film, we will ask the question of whether (arriving in Montenegro and his music collaboration) Janko has gained or rather, lost something, what are we like in his eyes and whether we are worthy of him?

In his encounter with the small land of his ancestors – what did this renowned cosmopolitan learn, at the risk of losing everything he has?


Feature documentary film in the project development phase
The SAMPLE: The Return of Janko Nilović
Director: Nikola Vukcevic
Galileo production Montenegro under support of Film centre of Montenegro
Running time: 75 minutes

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