About

Formed by filmmaker Vladan Nikolic, Surla Films has produced numerous fiction features, feature documentaries & other projects – among them, one of the first digital feature films, Burn, and one of the first transmedia-related feature films, ZENITH. Combined, these films have won dozens of awards, and screened at distinguished festivals and venues worldwide.

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Vladan Nikolic is an award winning filmmaker from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, who lives and works in New York City. Before coming to New York, Mr. Nikolic worked as director for the first independent TV network in Yugoslavia. Since then, Vladan has written, directed and produced numerous feature films, documentaries, TV and multi-platform media projects. His films have been distributed and have won awards and critical acclaim in the US and internationally. Vladan was among the digital filmmaking pioneers in the ’90s, shooting his first feature film Burn, which won the Best Film Award at the 2001 Telluride Indiefest, mostly on consumer camcorders. Burn prompted Amy Taubin of the Village Voice and Film Comment to write that Vladan Nikolic proves himself a director to watch with this intense, nightmare thriller about Yugoslavian refugees in New York.”

His second feature, LOVE (2005) premiered at the Tribeca and Venice film festivals to critical acclaim. It went on to win awards at film festivals in Geneva, Switzerland, Barcelona, Spain, and the Best Director Award at the Tiburon International Film Festival in San Francisco. LOVE opened theatrically to rave reviews and has been released theatrically and on DVD.

Vladan has also directed and produced the documentary The City (2007), and produced the documentary Fire Under the Snow (2008), as well as the fiction feature Here and There (2009), which won the Best NY Narrative Award at Tribeca Film Festival, as well as a dozen other awards. He has also co-produced the feature Most Beautiful Island, which won the 2017 SXSW Jury Award for best film.

In 2010, Vladan wrote, directed and produced the feature ZENITH,  which is also part of an extensive transmedia project. The film has been released in a unique and innovative way, combining theatrical, video, and online releases over multiple platforms. In 2011, parts of ZENITH were released through bit-torrents at SXSW, triggering an online sensation. Because of its elaborate transmedia campaign and highly innovative distribution strategy, the film became a cult phenomenon, with millions of downloads online, and notices for its unique and original approach to storytelling, marketing and distribution.  The project has been praised as A visually stunning Art-house Blade Runner (Flavorwire) and Nikolic as visionary writer-director by the Los Angeles Times. Most recently, he has written and directed the features Allure (2014) and Bourek (2015), which played numerous festivals, and was a top box office hit in his native Serbia; it has been released internationally through Sundance TV.

Vladan taught one of the first digital filmmaking courses at The New School and at New York University in the late ‘90s.  In 2011, he has taught the first transmedia storytelling class at The New School. He has taught filmmaking, directing, producing, and transmedia storytelling classes at numerous universities; he also worked and consulted on a variety of transmedia projects, from film-related to educational platforms, including for the Icelandic government and the Hong Kong Design Institute, where he guided and facilitated the establishment of the first academic transmedia program in Asia. His book, Independent Filmmaking and Digital Convergence – Transmedia and Beyond was published by Routledge/Focal Press in January 2017.