Gani Beg: the Robin Hood of Macedonia

A hundred years later, he’s still a folk hero

Ved playing Adam, who is searching to be reunited with his daughter in Mexico City, here with other American refugees seeking a better life in Mexico
  • Ved playing Adam, who is searching to be reunited with his daughter in Mexico City, here with other American refugees seeking a better life in Mexico

The little boy was hanging in a pear tree, with a rope around his chest, crying. The rest of his family had ropes around their necks. They were dead. The rebel Gani Beg came down from the mountains when he heard of the massacre, scooped the little boy up, and galloped with him back to his hideout.

“That boy was my grandfather,” says Ved Redic. “Gani Beg, the man who saved him, was the Robin Hood of Macedonia. He would steal from the rich and give land and cattle and money to the poor. A hundred years later, he’s still a folk hero. I want to make a movie about him.”

We’re sitting in his father Arslan’s gyro eatery in Mission Beach. Redic has the kind of face directors would choose to portray Jesus Christ. (A little ironic as his family is Muslim.)

Redic has become something of a celebrity in local film circles, ever since the short feature he starred in, In A Parallel World, won the Best Short Film and Spirit of San Diego prizes at the San Diego Film Festival, as well as prizes at the Trieste Film Festival, the Chicago, and the New York Latino Film Festival in 2017.

Ved with actor Jose Yenque

Ved with actor Jose Yenque

He was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1988 and spent his first five years there. The thing he remembers most? “A grenade exploding in the house next door. It killed three members of the family there. What I’ll never forget is the flash and the noise. Mostly the flash.”

Then his dad achieved the “miracle.” “He got us to San Diego, the best city in the world! I owe him everything.”

Redic went to school here, ended up with a law degree. But then he got hooked on acting. At first his dad was shocked. “He said ‘You are throwing your life away,’” Redic says. “But when he saw I was serious, he said ‘You can do anything. Create something beautiful.’”

In Parallel World, Redic plays Adam, a father looking for his daughter, who’s in Mexico City, a refugee from an ailing United States. The movie completely reverses the present border situation.

This is where Gani Beg comes in. Redic is determined to celebrate his life in a full-blown movie. “This was in the 1920s. Gani Beg killed Bulgarian soldiers in revenge for their atrocities, and the rich landowners who made our people work for years for nothing. And then he gave the people land, and cattle, and food. And he became a legend. At the end, the Bulgarians cornered him. He had 13 bullets left. He killed 12 of the 26 soldiers who surrounded him, and then he used his last bullet on himself. That’s why they called him ‘Gani Beg,’ which means ‘Lord Gani.’”

In July, Redic and his dad Arslan plan to travel to Tetovo, North Macedonia, where Lord Gani saved his grandfather, a century ago. “I want primary sources,” he says.

And then?

“Then I write the movie script. I already have people interested.”

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