Nostalgia and reality collide in the Balkans — An old Serbian man has discovered how to use crumbling Tito-era monuments to speak to a parallel world.

Ljuba Stojanovic holds the key to communicating with an alternate universe. It’s called Asomaljia, and this Serbian pensioner is the only person on earth who speaks the native language to speak with its people.

A Second World, from co-directors Oscar Hudson and Ruben Woodin-Dechamps, explores Ljuba’s relationship with this alien race, whose society has strong echoes of the lost utopia of Tito’s Yugoslavia.

Ljuba talks to Asomaljia through a network of towering retro-futurist monuments dotted across the former Yugoslavia, built by dictator Josip Broz Tito in the ‘60s and ‘70s to commemorate victory in the Second World War. His first communication occurred as Yugoslavia began to fall apart in the late ’80s.

Through the lens of Ljuba’s eccentric relationship with this parallel world, the film builds a moving snapshot of life in the Balkans today. With the conflict and upheaval the region has experienced since Tito’s death, many locals are confused about their place in today’s world.

“The film was shot during a three week road trip across the Balkans,” Oscar explains. “After a week spent with Ljuba learning about the complex world of Asomaljia, we set out to find as many monuments as we could, armed with only a document full of roughly plotted maps and local hearsay. All interviews were arranged by knocking on the door of the nearest house to each monument and asking questions.”

They speak to people who have grown up, worked and even fought for countries that no longer exist. Some have experienced life in four different countries without ever leaving their hometowns. Conversations reveal a nostalgia for the imagined lost utopia of a now non-existent state.

See more from Gallivant Film. This originally appeared on Nowness.

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