Balkan Identities, Balkan Cinemas Published by NISI MASA, European network of young cinema. Coordinators, Editors : Matthieu Darras, Maria Palacios Cruz Editorial Secretary, Iconography : Jude Lister Graphic Designer/Layout: Jon Grรถnvall Layout assistant: Emilie Padellec
Printed by Mondostampe (Grafica & Stampa) Via Stresa 36 - 10149 Torino - Italia www.mondostampe.it
March 2008 ISBN: 978-2-9531642-0-6
This book is the follow-up of a seminar which took place from the 3rd to the 9th of March 2006 in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, entitled â€œBalkan Identities, Balkan Cinemasâ€?. Organised by the NISI MASA association in cooperation with Art Group Haide, it welcomed young participants from 10 different countries in the Balkan region. The texts contained in this book are a result of the debates which took place during this week-long event.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
CONTENTS 8-9 10
Foreword :: By Ron Holloway Introduction: Claustrophobic Balkans :: By Jasna Žmak THEMATIC APPROACHES
Imagining the Balkans… in film :: By María Palacios Cruz
What is kitch? :: By Tanja Nestoroska
Humour - The Devil’s advocate on the Balkans
:: By Srdjan Keca & Blerton Ajeti
Kitsch & black Humour - a Balkan label? :: By Laurenţiu Bratan
Representation of the border in Theo Angelopoulos’ films :: By Nicéphore Tsimbidaros 27-29 Others on the Balkans :: By Rona Zuy and Gergö Csép 30 NATIONAL CINEMAS
Introduction to Bulgarian cinema Whose Is This Song? Adela Peeva
:: By Petia Slavova
:: By Petia Slavova
The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories, Andrey Paunov :: By Emilie Padellec
The old & the new in contemporary Romanian cinema
:: By Laurenţiu Bratan
12:08 East of Bucharest, Corneliu Porumboiu California Dreamin’, Cristian Nemescu
:: By Gwendoline Soublin
4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 days, Cristian Mungiu :: By Emilie Padellec
:: By Jude Lister
The Death of Mister Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu :: By Simone Fenoil
45-46 47 49
An overview of the (new) Croatian cinema :: By Jasna Žmak The phenomenon of Bosnian cinema :: By Una Gunjak
Go West, Ahmed Imamovic :: By Una Gunjak
From Yugoslav to Serbian cinema (1991-2001) :: By María Palacios Cruz A short history of censorship in Kosovan cinema :: By Blerton Ajeti & Lulzim Hoti Kukumi, Isa Qosja :: By Alexander Richter
The return to grace of Turkish cinema Istanbul Tales (Collective) :: By Gaëlle Debaisieux
Index – Films Index – Directors Partners and Contact Info
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
:: By Matthieu Darras
64-72 76 77
82-86 87-88 89
Foreword ron holloway
had never heard of NISI MASA – until I received this email from Sofia: “My name is Elena Mosholova and I come from NISI MASA – a European network of young cinema enthusiasts. I’m writing to you with an invitation for a seminar that we are organising. This seminar is to take place in the town of Blagoevgrad (southwest Bulgaria, close to Macedonia and Greece), from rd the 3 to the 9th of March 2006.”
Of course, Blagoevgrad intrigued me. The birthplace of former premier Todor Zhivkov. A university town and mineral springs. Sometimes called the capital of the “Bulgarian Macedonians.” Not far from the famous Rila Monastery, with its treasures of the Bulgarian Orthodoxy. But what interested me the most was Elena’s proposal: “NISI MASA will gather 26 young participants from ten Balkan countries: Albania, BosniaHerzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia-Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, plus the Kosovo Protectorate.” To be honest, I didn’t think a fledgling organisation like NISI MASA could pull it off. But it turned out that the only reason why some invited participants were missing from the seminar could be traced to visa hangovers. Upon arriving in Blagoevgrad, I met with my partners – Matthieu Darras and Elena Mosholova – to see what the seminar aimed to accomplish. To my delight, I was told that participants would join in workshops and role-playing games in order to try to answer the question: “Which are the common cinema images for Balkan countries?” “Try” was the key word. For, as everyone in the film profession knows, the social impact of cinema varies according to the perception of the viewer. Thus, as wisely outlined in the NISI MASA portfolio: “Discussions and conferences would focus, firstly, on the mutual impact of society and cinema and, secondly, on the common features and differences in the identities of people coming from the Balkans.” My job, as a guest, was to lead one of the discussions, on “how Balkan cinema was viewed from abroad.” Since I had written rather extensively on the subject, I could begin by saying: “I don’t have the slightest idea as to what Balkan cinema is in the first place!” Following my mother’s advice: “Always admit you’re dumb when you don’t have a clue!”
Two other “old-timers” from state film institutes in Bulgaria and Romania were also around to help explain why there happen to be national revivals in some countries but hindrances in others. Also, why might a common cinema market in the Balkans be just a pipedream? Topics? Try these on for size: - Humour – national traits, or is there a specific Balkan humour? - Cultural Links – kitsch, stereotypes, myths in national cinemas. - The “Other” – national films about other peoples in the Balkans. To break the ice and make it easy going for all, participants from a certain country or region would give a half-hour presentation on a general topic. Also, films could be screened as an integral part of the presentation or during the free evenings. These presentations would be followed by a collective discussion. And that’s where the fun began. I remember one discussion on “Weddings in the Balkans” that brought the house down with laughter. Whole villages might turn out for a week-long celebration in Kosovo! And I recall how we voted to have the seminar outing at a mineral springs high in the mountains. That’s where I finally learned a bit more about who and what is NISI MASA. Its title refers (I guess) to something scrawled on a wall in Fellini’s 8 1/2. Out of this graffiti evolved a movement. NISI MASA was founded in Paris in 2001 by a group of young cineastes – originally from France, Italy, Belgium, Spain and Finland – with the support of the European Union, and has become an ever-evolving European Network of Young Cinema. Its aims are four-fold: to discover new film talent, to foster European awareness through cinema, to develop cross-cultural cinema projects, and to create a platform of discussion and collaboration for young European filmmakers. Pretty high stakes for a young crowd. But then I heard that NISI MASA had successfully organised a seminar on Human Rights in Turkey. Not an easy mandate, considering. Following the NISI MASA seminar in Blagoevgrad, a jury was formed to award a NISI MASA Prize at the 2006 Sofia International Film Festival. The prize went to Isa Qosja’s Kukumi (Kosovo), a surreal tale about a trio of inmates released from an insane asylum at the close of the war in Kosovo in 1999. A fine choice. By the time the SIFF 2007 rolled around, the NISI MASA Prize had become a festival tradition. It was awarded to Croatian director Ognjen Svilicic’s Armin (Croatia/Germany/Bosnia&Herzegovina), a tongue-in-cheek tale about a 14-year-old who journeys with his father from a village in Herzegovina to Zagreb in order to audition for a German film about the Bosnian war. Another fine choice. If that’s what NISI MASA is all about, then … ad multos annos.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Introduction: Claustrophobic Balkans Jasna Žmak
Try holding a globe in your hands and reading out the names of various countries around it. With most of them there should be no difficulty, but when you get to certain parts of the world, e.g. the Balkans, you notice that the letters start to get smaller, the borders multiply, the number of countries increases sharply... the feeling is almost claustrophobic. So many differences in such a small area. And if you live in one of these Balkan countries, with the others always surrounding you, it is impossible to avoid them. However, the interesting thing is that you don’t want to avoid them. Whether it be in a positive or a negative way, you cope with them... In both cases, film represents the perfect medium of expression. The political situation, the historical background, the mixture of nationalities and the issue of national pride all make the position of ‘the other’ in the Balkans a particularly complex and interesting element of filmmaking in the region. It is hard to find a recently produced film in any Balkan country which doesn’t touch on this theme at least a little... from drama to comedy, ‘the other’ is always present, even if not physically. And the often-quoted characterisation of the Balkans as a powder keg, ready to explode at any time, makes this understandable... However it also gives an unnecessarily negative perspective to the whole issue. There is, one would hope, a rising number of films which show how understanding with ‘the other’ can be improved. I think that this is something which we have also proven to be possible during this seminar.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Mila From Mars by Zornitsa Sophia (2004) © Kirov Consult Ltd
Imagining the Balkans... in Film What is Kitsch? Humour - the Devil’s Advocate on the Balkans Kitsch & Black humour - a Balkan Label
THE REPRESENTATION OF THE Border in the Films of Theo AngelopoulOs Others on the Balkans
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Imagining the Balkans… in film Maria Palacios Cruz
“To those who have not visited them, the Balkans are a shadow-land of mystery; to those who know them, they become even more mysterious... You become, in a sense, a part of the spell, and of the mystery and glamour of the whole […] Intrigue, plotting, mystery, high courage and daring deeds – the things that are the soul of true romance are to-day the soul of the Balkans.” - Arthur D. Howden Smith1 What could the films Cat People2 ( Jacques Tourneur, 1942), Die Hard with a Vengeance3 ( John McTiernan, 1995), The Peacemaker4 (Mimi Leder, 1999), Zorba the Greek5 (Michael Cacoyannis, 1964) and Kika6 (Pedro Almodóvar, 1993) possibly have in common? The answer is that they are all somehow responsible for our cinematographic image of the Balkans. They have all contributed, in one way or another, to building the image that Westerners have of the region. Furthermore, they have constructed a series of Balkans clichés that have not only been confirmed by local filmmakers such as Kusturica, Manchevski or Angelopoulos, but largely exploited by Balkan cinematography as a whole. In a society such as ours, the notion of simulation is so central to our culture that the risk of losing touch with the real world looms large, and simulation often precedes and determines reality. We may do well then to question the ‘reality’ of these cinematographic representations of the Balkans. Have they become more ‘true’ than the ‘real’ ones ? More ‘real’ than the ‘true’ ones? For centuries, Western thought and discourse has ‘balkanised’ the Balkans, cinema being just one expression of this process. This balkanisation has not only been adopted and assimilated by Balkan intellectuals, but subsequently legitimised. The mysterious Balkans of primitive rituals and brutal passions is not only the stereotype put forward by Western films, but also the Balkans that Balkan cinema portrays. How then can we tell the real from the fake? How can we differentiate between the representation and the object it represents, when the clichés of the 1 Arthur D. Howden Smith, Fighting the Turks in the Balkans. An American’s Adventures with the Macedonian Revolutionaries, G. P Putnam’s, 1908, p. 24. Quoted by Todorova M., Imagining the Balkans, Oxford University Press 1997, p. 14. 2 Where Simone Simon is Irena, a tormented Serbian woman haunted by an old Balkan legend. 3 Bruce Willis is being chased by his enemies and has to leave behind the Yugo he was driving as it breaks down. Furious, he comments on its poor quality and gets hold of the first Mercedes he finds. 4 Where a Bosnian terrorist (self-defined « Serb, Croat and Muslim ») tries to blow up the UN headquarters in NYC. 5 A British writer (Alan Bates) is visiting Greece and comes accross an incredible individual, the flamboyant and colourful Zorba (Anthony Quinn). 6 Where Somalia and Sarajevo are linked in one single sentence. Similar impassive references to the Yugoslav conflict appear in Home for Holidays ( Jodie Foster, 1995) and Bridget Jones’s Diary (Sharon Maguire, 2001). 14
external representation are internalised? And how does this process of internalisation actually take place?
Which Balkans ? The first and most fundamental question one must ask oneself when writing on the subject of the Balkans is of course : what do we mean by ‘Balkans’? Simple as it may seem, this question is in fact a complex and sensitive one. Reference organisations, such as the French-speaking Le Courrier des Balkans7, often include the following: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldavia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. The term “Balkan” is however not a neutral one, as it has strong, often negative connotations.8 The result of this is a label that no one seems to want to belong to, a synonym of war and painful tragedy. This is why the Balkans are always ‘the others’. Following this line of thought, Croats and Slovenes often claim their belonging to Catholic Central Europe, and Romanians and Moldovians to the group of Latinspeaking countries, feeling themselves closer to the geographically distant France or Spain. Moreover, there is no precise definition of where the Balkans start and end. It is an unusual geographical area, with no clear borders. For example, certain geographers mark the Sava river as its Northern boundary, but according to them, Zagreb’s airport would belong to the Balkans whereas Zagreb wouldn’t (in Belgrade and Ljubljana it would be the opposite way). The Serbian filmmaker Dušan Makavejev proposes a very peculiar Balkan typology (and topography): “There are 67 million people in the nine Balkan countries. If we add Turkey, which is leaning on the peninsula with one small leg, we have 132 million ‘Balkanians’. And with Hungary and Austria, although these two ladies drink tea and are persuaded to be in Mitteleuropa, then we Balkanians and semi-Balkanians are 150 million”.9 Another Balkan filmmaker, Theo Angelopoulos, when asked why his films speak for this region, replies: “Geographically, we belong to the Balkan basin. We have borders with all of these countries : the former Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, etc. We also share a common destiny; just as all of these peoples, we have known the Turkish rule for centuries”.10 Confronted by the complexity of the question and the multiplicity of definitions, Dina Iordanova concludes: “Nominally, the Balkans include Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania. Countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Romania, Moldova and Turkey are also ‘Balkan’ in a number of elements of their 7 www.balkans.eu.org 8 Maria Todorova gives several examples of the negative connotations of the terms “Balkan” or “Balkanisation”: for Paul Scott Mayer, European correspondent for the Chicago Daily News in 1921, Balkanisation is “the creation, in a region of hopelessly mixed races, of a medley of small states with more or less backward populations, economically and financially weak, covetous, intriguing, afraid, a continual prey to the machinations of the great powers, and to the violent promptings of their own passions” (Torodova M., 1997, p. 34) ; or as Alexander Vodopivec describes in La balkanisation de l’Autriche, “Balkan – this was once a synonym for unrealiability, lethargy, corruption, irresponsability, mismanagement, blurring of the competences and borders of law and much else” (Todorova M., 1997, p. 35). 9 Makavejev D., “Dans les Balkans, là où les rivières coulent au-dessus des ponts”, Positif, nº 479, January 2001, p. 42 (translation by the author). 10 Ciment M., “Entretien avec Theo Angelopoulos”, Positif, nº 415, September 1995, pp. 21-27 (transl. by the author). BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
history, heritage and self-conceptualisation […]”.11
“Balkanism”: a Western view of the Balkans For Robert Stam and Ella Shohat12, Euro-centered thought divides the world into two opposite cultural fields : ‘the West’ and ‘the rest’. This division organises everyday language into binary structures, always favourable to Eurocentrism: our ‘nations’, their ‘tribes’; our ‘religions’, their ‘superstitions’; our ‘culture’, their ‘folklore’; our ‘art’, their ‘art craft’; our ‘defence’, their ‘terrorism’; our ‘demonstrations’, their ‘street riots’. Eurocentrism, sometimes condescending, sometimes demonising towards the non-Western, opposes multiculturalism. Stam and Shohat are well aware of the importance of the media in the multiculturalist debate. In a world where images, sounds, peoples and goods circulate globally, the impact of the media on national identity, and on the feeling of group-belonging, is very complex. As it facilitates the interaction with far-off nations, the media ‘deterritorialises’ the communities’ process of selfimage construction, often altering their cultures. In the Balkans’ case, in spite of their undeniable European geography, and the active part they’ve played in the Continent’s common history (far more active than other peripheral European regions, such as the Iberian peninsula, whose belonging to ‘Europe’ is no longer an issue), they are not considered as part of the Western or European cultural field, but are left belonging to
11 Iordanova D., Cinema of Flames : Balkan Film, Culture and Media, BFI Publishing, London, 2001, p.7. 12 Shohat E., Stam R., Multiculturalismo, cine y medios de comunicación, Ediciones Paidós, Barcelona, 2002. 16
What is Kitsch? Tanja Nestoroska Kitsch. How can we define it? What is this thing that puts so many different meanings under one label? Perhaps it is easier if we look at the root of the phenomenon. It was born in Germany at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, as a result of the increased wealth of the lower classes. Suddenly, these people of lower status and level of education had the chance to become someone else. They started imitating the aristocracy, but cheaply and in a way that soothed their own level of understanding. All of a sudden, the big classical pieces of art were being copied and their characteristics reduced. Since then, this false sense of aesthetics has grown and extended into all areas of human life. You can find this same process during the last 15 years within the Balkans. Both Mila from Mars (Zornitsa Sophia) and Philanthropy (Nae Caranfil) demonstrate the kitsch in people’s characters, although we cannot really define where the limit is between good and bad taste. It all depends on how much knowledge someone has of another’s culture. In other words, something might be seen as kitsch in one society, but as something completely different in another. A general definition of kitsch can however be applied to the style of both these films: 1. One of the main goals of kitsch is to attract attention. We can see how it is used on purpose by certain famous people to increase their number of fans. This often works very well, because the majority of the general public likes kitsch (don’t laugh, it’s true!). 2. Too much detail and elaboration, to show prosperity and richness. This is done often without concern over whether those details fit together or not. 3. Insincerity. When a person pretends to be someone he is not, especially copying someone without truly understanding who the copied subject really is. This can be seen in the performances of many actors (when we say that they are ‘overacting’). 4. Kitsch is by definition modern, because it is always fresh and new. People come up with new ideas every day, and there is always a public to consume them.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
the ‘rest’ Shohat and Stam speak of. The Balkans are the expression of the ‘other’, as Todorova13 also points out, and their marginalisation is not only made explicit by Western thought but also internalised by its own peoples. Furthermore, when a Greek goes to France or Italy, he says he’s going to ‘Europe’. He calls all the Westerners visiting Greece ‘Europeans’ (and that includes American tourists), in contrast with the Greeks, who as a result are not Europeans. But they are not Oriental either. As Ducket Ferriman writes, they are the bridge between East and West.14 However, in a strictly geographical sense, ‘East’ and ‘West’ are only relative concepts. What the West calls the Middle East would be, from a Chinese perspective, Western Asia. Politics determine cultural geography, and whereas Israel is generally accepted as a Western country, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco are perceived as Oriental. The myth of the West and of the East (or Orient) are two faces of the same colonial sign. And just as Edward Said describes the ways in which European literature has constructed a Euro-centred vision of the East in Orientalism15, the work and research of Maria Todorova16 or Milica Bakic-Hayden17 propose an equivalent thesis regarding the Euro-centred construction of the Balkans. In an East/West perspective of the world, Eastern Europe would be in the semi-Orientalism stage. Neither definitively excluded nor fully integrated, Eastern Europe is located along a scale which measures the distance from barbarism to civilisation. On that scale, the Balkans are located closer to the barbaric depths, functioning as a category of their own and becoming a synonym of the ‘barbarian’, the ‘tribal’ and the ‘primitive’. Nevena Dakovic18 lists the three main characteristics of the Balkan stereotype: exoticism, ambiguity and ‘third worldisation’. To the eyes of the Westerner, the Balkans appear to be the last truly exotic hideaway in the ‘First’ World, a magical region, strongly marked by duality (between East and West; North and South; Rome and Byzantium; Austria and the Ottoman Empire). Since the early days of cinema, filmic representations of the Balkans have inevitably hovered between two poles: romance and violence. In the first case, the Balkans are a fairy-tale land: idyllic, imaginary and often not clearly defined. These are the Balkans of The Prisoner of Zenda19, Cat People or Cecil B. DeMille’s Unafraid and The Captive. In the second case, the Balkans are a powder-keg ready to explode every 50 years, a land inhabited by vengeful savages who let 13 ‘‘Geographically inextricable from Europe, yet culturally constructed as ‘the other’, the Balkans became in time, the object of a number of externalized political, ideological and cultural frustrations and have served as a repository of negative characteristics against which a positive and self-congratulatory image of the ‘European’ and `the West’ has been constructed’’. (Todorova M., 1997, p. 453). 14 Ducket Ferriman Z., Greece and the Greeks, New York, James Pott, 1911, p. 132, quoted by Todorova M., 1997, p. 21. 15 Said E., Orientalism, Pantheon, New York, 1978. 16 Imagining the Balkans by Bulgarian historian Todorova explores the ontology of the Balkans from the 18th century to the present day, based on a rich selection of travelogues, diplomatic accounts, journalism, academic surveys, etc. 17 Milica Bakic-Hayden has dedicated several works to the «Balkanist» issue : ‘‘Nesting Orientalisms : the Case of the Former Yugoslavia’’, Slavic Review, vol. 54, nº 4, Winter 1995, pp. 917-931; (with her husband, Robert Hayden), «Orientalists Variations on the Theme ‘Balkans’: Symbolic Geography in Recent Yugoslav Cultural Politics», Slavic Review, vol. 51, nº1, Spring 1992, pp. 1-15. 18 Dakovic N., ‘‘The Threshold of Europe : Imagining Yugoslavia in Film’’, Spaces of Identities, 2001. 19 The three cinematographic versions (1937, John Cromwell ; 1952, Richard Thrope ; 1979, Richard Quine) of Anthony Horpe’s novel are set in the imaginary land of Ruritania, which would correspond to 1880’s Serbia. 18
their primitive violent instincts guide them. This second pole accumulates the large majority of stereotypes usually associated with the Balkans: male chauvinism, treason, beautiful women unworthy of trust, brutal force, alcohol, gambling, revenge. During the Cold War, productions such as the James Bond film From Russia with Love (Terence Young, 1963) nourished these stereotypes, which were then largely exploited in the 1990s when Yugoslavia became a war-zone and a very profitable film subject. From this period, films such as The Rock (Michael Bay, 1996), The Savior (Pedrag Gaga Antonijevic, 1998) and Welcome to Sarajevo (Michael Winterbottom, 1997) contributed to the construction of an image of the Balkans associated with violence. In all of these cases, the main characters were Westerners, whereas the local populations were only represented by minor and stereotypical characters. For Stam and Shohat20, in the Euro-centred cinematographic model, the ‘colonised’ are always represented as if they were all the same, and any negative act committed by one of them is generalised and becomes instantly typical of the whole community.
Welcome to Sarajevo by Michael Winterbottom (1997) © Positif
The filmic representations of non-Western nations are allegorical, and the characters a synecdoche that synthesises a whole group, clearly homogeneous, no matter how large it may be. On the other hand, Western characters are never allegorical, but naturally diverse, true examples of life’s rich variety. When it comes to Balkan film subjects, Western filmmakers tend 20 Shohat E., Stam R., 2002, p. 191. BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
to privilege Western narrators : the main characters in Winterbottom’s Welcome to Sarajevo are foreign correspondents in the Bosnian capital; those in Forever Mozart ( J.-L. Godard, 1996), a group of Parisian intellectuals; and in Gadjo Dilo (Toni Gatlif, 1997), a young French man travelling across Romania.
Balkan narratives In spite of the great diversity of cinematographic examples so far mentioned, a large number of films set in the Balkans reveal the same travelogue narrative structure21. Balkan narrations are often the account of a journey in the region. The traveller is a Westerner or a local living abroad who returns home after a long absence. The traveller meets ‘extraordinary’ and ‘different’ people and situations, which appear even more so in contrast with the traveller’s normality. All of these experiences have a profound effect on the character, who then returns home (to the West) transformed. Two typical examples of this structure are the Hollywood ‘Greek’ movies : Never on Sunday ( Jules Dassin, 1957) and Zorba the Greek (Michael Cacoyannis, 1964). The first one, starring Jules Dassin as an American traveller and Melina Mercouri as a local prostitute, was meant to be a celebration of the Mediterranean ‘joie de vivre’, criticising Western rigidity at the same time. However, as the film was entirely built upon the foreigner’s journey and the effects of his presence upon the local Greek community, the result was a true festival of clichés. Zorba the Greek followed the same pattern, and although its filmmaker (and writer) was originally from Cyprus, the film ended up reaffirming the same stereotypes. What matters is the effect that the encounter with Zorba has on the British writer, and how he returns to England a changed man. What happens to Zorba after the Englishman has left is not mentioned, as if it had no importance whatsoever. In these two examples, the Balkans only seem to exist through the eyes of the foreigner. What truly matters is the ‘journey’ undergone by the Westerner, not the country and the people he will leave behind. In a Euro-centred perspective, the Balkans don’t exist on their own, they are constructed by the Western gaze, and are therefore subjected to Western representational forms.
The Balkans seen from the Balkans The Balkans as constructed by the West are the Balkans of exoticism. Furthermore, whereas in other ‘exotic’ peripheral European regions, such as Spain, filmmakers have used the force of the cinematographic medium to fight existing stereotypes and to reassert Spain’s belonging to the Western world, in the Balkans, the logic followed has been the opposite one. Balkan filmmakers have adhered to Western stereotypes on the Balkans. Some have certainly taken 21 Dina Iordanova dedicates one chapter of Cinema of Flames to describing and analyzing the Balkan travelogue structure : Iordanova, 2001, pp. 55-70. 20
The Devil’s Advocate on the Balkans Srdjan Keca and Blerton Ajeti “... That smile we all have when someone close to us dies.” Does this smile which Dostoevsky spoke of come from the very act of death? Or is it the inescapability of the situation that causes us to make this leap of faith? We tend to think of smiles as signs of affection or satisfaction. Within this framework, humour in Balkan cinema is usually seen as a mixture of violent, nationalist and sexual references. This is indeed true on a surface level. But there is much more behind the smiles that Balkan films spark than simply laughing at raw violence. In fact, tragedy, a constant presence in the history of the Balkan people, always carries with it a dose of the sad humour. This in itself is innocent because it merely demonstrates the absurdity of everyday life. It is not just humour for the sake of humour. Nevertheless, the smiles are guilty. The characters depicted in No Man’s Land (Danis Tanovic) are confronted with lifethreatening situations. In this film, humour arises suddenly and directly as a consequence of the absurd elements within the story. The two protagonists are stuck together as they play a game of life and death which escalates to insane levels. The insanity is so real, so raw, that it manages to transcend the obvious tragedy. We know that we are not supposed to smile, but we cannot stop ourselves from doing so.
“In my contradictions, in my closeness to a black-and-white worldview, in my affinity to the comical and in my humour, and in the quick change of my moods, I am a Slav... That is the way of the Balkan people. They never change.” No Man’s Land by Danis Tanovic (2001) © Positif BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
- Emir Kusturica
advantage of these stereotypes in an ironic way, for example Dušan Makavejev and his provocative WR : Mysteries of the Organism (1971) or Srdjan Dragojevic with the more recent Lepa sela lepo gore (Pretty Village Pretty Flame, 1996) or Rane (The Wounds, 1998). However little by little, the Balkans have become a true Chagall painting, with young brides flying away, cows resting on roofs and Gypsies suddenly appearing from the most incredible places to play some music. Kusturica’s ‘magic realism’ has become the norm for Balkan filmmakers. Incredibly enough, Balkan cinemas don’t try to contradict the image Westerners have of the Balkans. The Balkan exclusion from the European cultural field has not only been interiorised, but has now become a matter of self-exclusion. However, for years now, the big ‘return’ to Europe has been one of the priorities in the region’s political agendas. As Dina Iordanova explains22, it is not surprising that hotels and cafés named ‘Europe’ have appeared in every big Balkan city, and that in Zagreb, it is precisely the ‘Balkan’ film theatre that has been renamed ‘Europe’. Balkan intellectuals have found themselves faced with the difficult question of how to fight exclusion. Aware of their geographical belonging to Europe, but fully aware that they were not desirable partners for the European Union (yet), they believed that their situation could improve if they demonstrated their true desire to return to Europe. In order to achieve this they have felt an obligation to appear apologetic, and thus have been prepared to mirror stereotypical representations of themselves as part of the admission bargain. This self-denigrating has taken several forms, self-inflicted exoticism being the most easily discernible in the medium of cinema23. This is when the representation becomes more ‘real’ than the represented object, when Balkan filmmakers represent their region according to ‘East-West’ criteria, stereotypes and divisions. When Balkan cinemas don’t contradict Hollywood’s Euro-centred vision of the Balkans, but instead confirm it. Moreover, when Balkan filmmakers often choose the same travelogue narrative structure employed by Western filmmakers - which is even more surprising, as they are refusing their own point of view in favour of a foreign one, encouraging an external ‘judgement’ on their country, their traditions and peoples. An Unforgettable Summer (Lucien Pintilie, 1994), Ulysses’ Gaze (Angelopoulos, 1995), The Saviour (Antonijevic, 1998) and Before the Rain (Manchevski, 1994), four full-length feature films directed by Balkan filmmakers and therefore examples of self-representation, all use the same narrative structures as Balkan-located Western films. They make full use of the figure of the visiting Western (or ‘Westernised’) protagonist, always incarnated by faces familiar to the Western viewer (Harvey Keitel, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Dennis Quaid or Rade Serbedzija). The hero of Ulysses’ Gaze’s is A., a cineaste who returns to the Balkans after 35 years in America. In The Saviour, it is an American soldier of fortune in the Bosnian war.
22 Iordanova D., 2001, p. 33. 23 Iordanova D., 2001, p. 67. 22
Before the Rain by Milcho Manchevski (1994) © Positif
In An Unforgettable Summer, we have an Austro-Hungarian aristocrat. In Before the Rain, Aleksandar, a cosmopolitan photographer and word-traveller returns to his Macedonian village after 18 years away. Aleksandar comes from the civilised and rational West and finds a society ruled by intolerance and violence. His humanist ideals of reconciliation are quickly rejected and he ends up killed by his own people. What Manchevski (himself an emigré in the US) probably intended to show the West was that it must not impose its ethical codes upon other cultures. However, the effect is the radical opposite, as Macedonia appears as a medieval society of tribal cultures. All the ingredients are indeed there: mysticism, orthodoxy, monasteries, icons, candles, nostalgia, lake Ohrid’s blue waters… The final result is the veritable and inevitable assertion of the Balkans as ‘the other’. Balkan filmmakers do not seek to be subversive, but to be accepted. They no longer have an alternative ideology to counter the dominant Western model. Concession works better for them, and is therefore the path which has been chosen. In addition, in adopting Western cinematographic stereotypes on the Balkans, Balkan filmmakers have made these stereotypes truer than real life. It seems odd therefore that cows don’t fly and that there are no Gypsies hiding with their trumpets in every Balkan closet. The cinematographic Balkans have succeeded in imposing themselves on our collective imagination.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
BibliographY Baudrillard J., Simulacre et simulation, Galilée, Paris, 1981. Ciment M., ‘‘Entretien avec Theo Angelopoulos’’, Positif, nº 415, septembre 1995, pp. 21-27. Dakovic N., ‘‘The Threshold of Europe: Imagining Yugoslavia in Film’’, Spaces of identities, Vol. 1, n°1, 2001. Herpe N., ‘‘Le Regard D’Ulysse. L’exil et le royaume’’, Positif, nº 415, septembre 1995, pp. 16-20. Iordanova D., ‘‘Balkan Film Representations since 1989 : the quest for admissibility’’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 18.2, 1998. Iordanova D., Cinema of Flames: Balkan Film, Culture and Media, BFI Publishing, London, 2001. Makavejev D., « Dans les Balkans, là où les fleuves coulent au-dessus des ponts », Positif, nº 479, janvier 2001, pp. 40-43. Shohat E., Stam R., Multiculturalismo, cine y medios de comunicación, Ediciones Paidós, Barcelona, 2002. (Originally: Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media, Routledge, Londres, 1994). Todorova M., Imagining the Balkans, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997.
Kitsch & Black Humour - a Balkan label? Laurenţiu Brǎtan When talking about Balkan cinema, the first films which come to mind are those of Emir Kusturica. His work has become a kind of stereotype, a label to be put on Balkan cinema as a whole. Of course Balkan cinema does not only consist of Emir Kustrurica’s films - nor only of the films of the former Yugoslavia. It includes countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and - to a certain extent - Greece, Turkey and Cyprus (Slovenia is now included less and less in commentaries on ‘Balkan cinema’). Emir Kusturica’s films have managed nevertheless to become representative of a large part of the films coming from the Balkans: a mixture of daily-life kitsch and coarse, black humour. Many other directors from all over the Balkans use similar themes and plots, and have more or less the same way of dealing with them in their films. The particular success of Emir Kusturica can perhaps be explained by the fact that he is the most commercial director within a non-commercial cinema industry. Directors such as Goran Paskaljević and Srđan Koljević (Serbia), Fatmir Koci (Albania), Mircea Daneliuc and Lucian Pintilie (Romania) and Zornitsa Sophia (Bulgaria) have all made a number of films in which daily-life kitsch and black (often violent) humour are a permanent presence. Furthermore, examples of directors using these features can also be found in many countries in Eastern Europe: the Hungarian Jancsó Miklós, Russians Alexey Gherman and Pavel Loungine and even the East-German Detlev Buck. In conclusion then, this way of making films is not confined to the Balkans, but is easily found in many parts of the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. If we think of the fact that cinema reflects society, the above conclusion should not surprise us (we shouldn’t however make the assumption that the phenomenon is strictly confined to or indeed universal across all East European countries). So, why kitsch? Well, the answer is obvious: because it is deeply rooted in the daily lives of people living in the Balkans. Why rough, black humour? Because it is specific to the East. And are these features specific only to the Balkans? Not at all, they are labels which can be applied to most East European cinemas.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Niki & Flo by Lucian Pintilie (2003) ÂŠ Rezo Films
The Representation of the Border in the Films of Theo Angelopoulos Nicéphore Tsimbidaros
“Any serious consideration of the Balkan peninsula runs up against the unanswerable question of borders… a mixture of the geographical, the historical and the political.” - Misha Glenny, 1999 The Suspended Step of the Stork (1991), Ulysses’s Gaze (1995) and Eternity and a Day (1998) constitute a trilogy in which a fascination for the border is certainly at its strongest and most evident within the cinematography of Theo Angelopoulos, and even within Balkan cinema as a whole. For him, roads, bridges and mountains constitute the boundaries of a scattered world: the Balkans. In The Suspended Step of the Stork, Alexander, a documentary film-maker, investigates the disappearance of a famous politician. His investigation brings him to a little town in northern Greece, close to the Turkish border. In the second sequence of the film, Alexander goes to the border with a Greek army colonel. They both walk onto a narrow wooden bridge. The other side of the bridge is guarded by a Turkish soldier holding a machine gun. Three painted lines divide the middle section of the bridge. “The blue line”, says the colonel “is Greece. The white one, nowhere, the red one, Turkey”. The officer puts his left foot on the ground in a position resembling that of a stork, and raising his right foot over the white line he says: “If I make another step I’m nowhere, or I die…” A very long and slow-moving tracking shot follows the wagons of a goods train where refugees are packed; Kurds, Albanians, Iranians, immigrants, exiles, the displaced… Most of them carry their nation, their borders and their nationalism with them. They tear one another to pieces, always recreating their own boundaries. For example, a scene in the refugee camp presents a man showing off a tattoo of an orthodox cross on his arm in order to ‘save the race’. The border is an imaginary line which separates two countries, but its limits are beyond geography. Here, the borders are reconstructed inside the refugee camp. Angelopoulos strongly questions the limits imposed by the legal reality of the border. In The Suspended Step of the Stork the border is often referred as “the borders” (“ta sinora”, in Greek), as if they weren’t indeed strictly legal or geographical but blurred and abstract. The usage of long sequence shots, grim wintry landscapes and cold tonalities - common to all three BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
The Suspended Step of the Stork by Theodoros Angelopoulos (1991) © Positif
films - underlines remarkably the misery of these populations stuck in between their borders. Boundaries are buried under the mist, rain and snow. Mastroianni, the exile politician/refugee (Angelopoulos maintains a confusion on the identity of the character) asks himself: “We’ve crossed the border and we’re still here… How many borders must we cross to reach home?”. The wedding sequence is another remarkable example of Angelopoulos’s denunciation of the border. The silent ceremony takes place on both banks of a large river which marks the boundary between two countries. The bride and groom are separated. When a military jeep patrols along the opposite side of the river, both groups have to run away and hide in the forest. The groom eventually crosses the river in a small boat and meets the bride. Angelopoulos pushes his fascination for the borders and the Balkans even further in Ulysses’s Gaze. The hero, A. (his name is just an initial), starts his journey in Florina, a little town in northern Greece. His trip will lead him through Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Bosnia on a quest for three lost rolls of the first movie shot by the Manakia brothers in the early 20th century. The Manakia Brothers are a perfect incarnation of ‘the Balkans’. Born of Greek parents in a village in the Pindus Mountains, they moved to Monastir (now Bitola in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), where they started their photo lab and also opened a screening room. Skopje’s National Archives and the Yugoslav Film Archives (Jugoslovenska Kinoteka) share most of the Manakia’s photo and film collection. Another part is also stored at Bucharest’s Film Archives. 28
The Manakia brothers developed their business throughout the Balkans, ignoring borders which were not yet settled. As their work belongs to the collective Balkan patrimony, and because of the complexity of their origins, any attempt to appropriate their work would be in vain. The Balkan dimension of the Manakia archives make them incompatible with any political ideology found within the borders of any single Balkan country. In the first sequence of the film, A. wanders into Florina’s main square at night time, where a movie is being screened in front of a large, silent crowd. The screen is never shown to us but the voiceover is heard in every corner of the town. We can hear the words: “Balkan reality (…) is sailing in dark waters now” . The tone of the movie is set. A. crosses the Albanian border in a taxi, but the driver seems worried about crossing it. “Do we cross?”. The border separates two sisters. One lives on the Greek side, the other lives on the Albanian one. A. welcomes the one from the Greek side into the taxi and they go to Albania together. A. drops her in her sister’s town. Standing with her suitcase in the middle of a huge and empty square, the old woman remains immobile, struck by the strangeness of this foreign place. She now becomes an outcast. The border divides what was before united. The border not only scatters the land, but also the people sharing the same blood; parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters. As well as the concept of borders, Angelopoulos is also strongly concerned with the feeling of being a stranger everywhere. Angelopoulos seems to be speaking to us through Alexander, the main character of Eternity and a Day, a writer who is about to go to a hospital to cure a fatal disease. Alexander says himself that he has always lived his life as an exile. To him, it seems irrevocable. Alexander meets a wandering Albanian child, himself an exile, and takes him under his protection. He drives the child towards Albania through the mist and the snow. Their ride stops at the border. There, in the stillness of the frozen mountains, Alexander and the child remain silent. A tall wire fence marks the border line with Albania, but as the tracking shot moves forward through the mist, sinister human forms appear at various points of the fence. Desperate emigrants are hanging from the wire, waiting for the chance to pass through. In summary, all of these three movies form a kind of protest against the inhumanity of the borders, which imprison those on the outside as well as those on the inside. Angelopoulos sees them as barriers to love, languages, races, and religions, preventing real communication from taking place. The borders are severely marked. Crossing them becomes dangerous. However, the last sequence of The Suspended Step of the Stork shows men hanging from the top of some phone polls lined up along the riverside, restoring the cables. These cables could be seen as bridges which transcend the national borders. In this way, the film ends on a positive note, demonstrating the will to restore communication between people.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Others on the Balkans Rona Zuy and Gergö Csép There are two different ways to interpret the meaning of this title. Firstly, ‘Others on the Balkans’ can suggest the attitude of one Balkan nation towards its neighbours. The medium of cinema provides the perfect opportunity to explore the traditional stereotypes and historical issues between nations, which can be a great tool for adding humour in certain films. However, here the way one nation regards the other is most often negative, or at least mocking in tone. In countries where several ethnic groups coexist, we can see that their cultures have an important effect on each other. These cultures are in confrontation with one another, but without recognising their diversity. On the other hand, our title ‘Others on the Balkans’ can also suggest an outsider looking in at the Balkan nations. It is extremely common in ‘other- European’ or American movies to introduce a character simply as ‘The Balkan’. For example a man may be introduced as a Serb, whilst his name and the language he speaks suggest another nationality. ‘Balkan’ here becomes synonym for a far-away, exotic world, where anything and everything can happen. Even in some of the Balkan countries the term has this same negative meaning, ‘Balkan’ often becoming another word for ‘savage’.
Eternity and a Day by Theodoros Angelopoulos (1998, Greece) © Positif
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
The Perfect Circle by Ademir Kenovic (1997, Bosnia) ÂŠ Positif
BulgariA Romania Croatia Bosnia Serbia Kosovo Turkey
Introduction to Bulgarian cinema Petia Slavova
Our cinema has always had serious problems. Since its very beginning it has not been quite sure of itself and of the opportunities available to it. It often tries to follow the example of established European genres, such as French melodramas or German horror films, which do not fit with its own identity. One hundred years later, the nature of the beginning of the Bulgarian cinema industry is still hotly debated. The first version of events is that the first Bulgarian movie was made in 1910, but the second (and more up to date) version says that it was in fact five years later. This is an important distinction, as it constitutes the difference between being the first Balkan country to make a film, or the last. The first Bulgarian filmmakers made amateur productions, most of them having no real cinematographic potential but at least a high level of enthusiasm. Up until the 1970s there was no education in the domain of cinema in Bulgaria, and most of the people making movies studied abroad - mainly in Germany and Russia. During the socialist period, we had problems with censorship which were similar to those of most Balkan cinematographs at this time. The characters that were developed were strongly connected with the ideas preached by the ‘high tribunes’, primarily the importance of the collective over the individual. Rangel Valchanov’s The Small Island (1959) represented perhaps the first frank opposition to this perspective. The film told the story of a group of political prisoners, each of whom was portrayed as an individual character. It was the first time when such a distance from the group could be so clearly seen. It is often said that the 60s and 70s were the heyday of Bulgarian cinema, most of the films made during this period being nostalgic tales of village life. At this time, our cinema tried to transcend its political framework and to be liked by the rest of the world. Comedies changed their emphasis from romantic melodrama to irony and sarcasm. After these two strong decades for the domestic cinema industry, political changes meant that Bulgarian directors began to lose their way. The number of films being shot declined - the lowest point being one per year - and the 90s became something of a dead zone for Bulgarian cinema. This obviously kept spectators from buying tickets for national productions - a problem which still exists today. At least now the number of productions is slowly increasing, and some people have even started talking about a new ‘breath of fresh air’ in Bulgarian cinema. The industry of course has a long way to go, but it has started the process of recovery. In recent years we have produced Letter to America and And God Came Down to See us, which are good films, but as the only representatives of Bulgarian cinematography they are hardly
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Lady Zee by Georgi Djulgerov (2005) ÂŠ BOROUGH Film Ltd
sufficient. At the International Sofia Film Festival there have been extraordinary films from our neighbours - from Turkey, from Romania... Why are we so unable to match these achievements? Some filmmakers have said that the biggest obstacle is finding funding, but there are many good films with small budgets. The main problem is actually thus: as many Bulgarian filmmakers only have the means to make 2 or 3 productions during their entire careers, when they do make a film they are overambitious, wanting to fit in all their ideas. Whilst they want to show the paradoxes in this country, they end up confusing daily-life issues with realism. In 2004, it was said by many that Bulgarian cinema had begun a new renaissance. Indeed it is true that some new films found their place at interesting international festivals. Bulgarian producers also started to shoot co-productions. The real change however came about in 2005. In this year, Bulgarian spectators had the chance to watch films like Lady Zee, which was shot by Georgi Deulgerov with a cast of non-professional child actors. Only one of the actors was a professional - Ivan Barnev, whose performance happens to complement the ensemble very well.1 Lady Zee is the story of an orphan girl who lives a solitary life. This is not poetic cinema - the film is very realistic. It was awarded a prize at the Sarajevo Film Festival. After the success of this film, a new group of directors appeared - all of them students of Georgi Dulgerov. The group even have their own producer - Rositca Valkanova, who studied in the same class, and managed to set up their own production house named Class film. 1 Barnev was the first Bulgarian actor in 30 years to participate in the Berlin Film Festival, performing in I Served the King of England by the Czech director Jiri Menzel. 34
In 2006, they made the films Monkeys in Winter, Christmas Tree Upside and Investigation, all of them co-productions with Germany. Monkeys in Winter, by Milena Andonova, tells the story of three very different women who are all searching for happiness. Each of the characters is colourful and yet simple at the same time. ‘Winter’ is the key theme for their stories… Christmas Tree Upside (by Ivan Cherkelov and Vasil Jivkov) is quite simply the story of a Christmas tree which is driven through different places in Bulgaria. Along the way, it witnesses the destinies of the people around it. Who believes that happiness exists? Look at these true people. They live in a big city, an unknown village or in the lonely mountains. The final destination of the tree? To become a decoration, just like human destinies… Investigation (by Iglika Trifonova) was the last good film to be released in 2006. It is a crime story, but with a twist. We (and the police) know who the murderer is, but the female detective is searching for something more. She wants to know the real reasons for this crime, and to go deep into the mind of the killer… Some of these films took part in the Rotterdam festival. Indeed, it seems that the real problem for Bulgarian cinema is that people in Bulgaria don’t want to watch domestic films, because they have lost faith in Bulgarian filmmakers. They think that these new productions are of poor quality, but this is simply not true. The films belong to the tradition of European cinema. Bulgarian films will find their audience - the European one.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Adela Peeva, BULGARIA
Whose is this song? Adela Peevaâ€™s Whose is this Song takes its name from the question that she asks herself while having dinner with friends in Istanbul. There are Greeks, Turks, Macedonians and Serbs. Everything is going on well until a song is played. There is nothing strange within the song itself. There is no problem until the moment when each member of the group starts to hum the song. It sounds familiar and even native. Each of the friends claims that this music belongs to his nationality. Each of them have heard it in their childhood. Here comes the conflict, that which can set the friends against each other, because it touches on the most sensitive of Balkan issues national identities. And yet the historical and geographical borders have often fluctuated within the Balkans in the past, and it is clear that we are similar in many ways. But what is the meaning of â€˜the otherâ€™ on the Balkans? Just neighbourly relations? Friendship? For me this is not enough. I recognise these relationships more as kinship ties. Only in a family circle is it possible for people to have such intense bonds. Only in familial environments can people argue so frankly, so seriously. There, quarrels are followed by forgiveness. In the Balkans, the issue of the search for roots is raised because of collective forgetfulness. Greeks, Turks, Serbs and Bulgarians - do we all have common roots? And if so, why are we so quick to accuse, to judge and to hate each other? Especially over such a thing as music, an art which transcends all borders. Let us remember that its purpose has always been to bring people together!
Andrey Paunov, BULGARIA
© AGITPROP (2007)
THE MOSQUITO PROBLEM AND OTHER STORIES
Young Bulgarian director Andrey Paounov seems to have a weakness for insects. If Giorgi and the Butterflies captured the foolish dreams of the director of a male psychiatric wing, his second documentary, The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories, explores the tragic-comic sanitary crisis of Belene, a township of some 9000 souls along the banks the Danube. In reality, even if the mosquitos constantly occupy the screen - although they are cunningly invisible - other more important threats hang over the town. Past or future, totalitarian or nuclear, they leave the odour of sulphur and the opacity of the heavy clouds of insecticide in the air. How to approach the mosquito problem infesting Belene, and eventually ‘liquidate’ it? Falsely innocuous, this is the recurrent question which Andrey Paounov poses to his subjects. One after the other, facing the camera, almost each one of them responds, sometimes with weapons - a fly swatter or the less classic vacuum cleaner and hunting rifle (!) - in hand. From the hunters at the Punata tavern to the cheerleaders, from Boyko, the photographer-historian of the town, to the pianist-composer Todor, via the only Cuban survivor amongst the communist ex-workers of an abandoned nuclear centre: Fernando Diaz or even Ivan and Petar, the two fishermen and ‘beckettian’ companions, everyone has their own little turn or anecdote. The central question of the mosquitos is however just a pretext. Little by little, Andrey succeeds in uncovering the ‘real’ problems of Belene. Even if the “zanzare” are a veritable plague, the traumatisms left by the communist era are revealed as the true local gangrene, of which the meaningful silences are a persisting symptom. The island of Persin still bears the undeniable scar: the old communist concentration camp, which was in operation between 1949 and 1959. A black hole in the middle of a swamp. Even if the horror has disappeared, there are still the vipers which hiss there. Deceased in October 2005, Julia Ruzhgeva was a guard in the camp. During her trial for multiple pre-meditated murders, from which Andrey Paounov borrows a few minutes of unbearable archive footage, she denied everything, insisting she had done nothing. To not remember. In the opening sequence of The Mosquito Problem… her own daughter meditates by the still nameless grave of a mother who was perhaps a “monster”. In the epilogue, her tears are effaced by the innocence of children’s laughter in Belene. The final dotted line of an overwhelmingly beautiful film. Emilie Padellec 37
The Old and the New in Contemporary Romanian Cinema Laurenţiu Brǎtan
The 1990s - The Collapse The collapse of the Romanian cinema industry at the end of the 1990s (its lowest point was a one and a half year period between 1999 and 2001, when not one single feature film was released) did not happen by accident, but rather as the result of the overall situation in this field. Romanian film production was artificially maintained during several decades of the communist era at a level of 30-35 long features per year. It was a false reality and, despite the statistics, Romanian cinema neither gave birth to a specific movement (like the Czech New Wave, for instance), nor to any director with a highly individual style (like Gothár Péter or Szabó István in Hungary; Miloš Forman or Jiři Menzel in Czechoslovakia; Jerzy Skolimowski, Krzysztof Kieślowsky or Roman Polanski in Poland; Emir Kusturica or Goran Paskaljević in Yugoslavia etc). Bulgaria too saw a timid New Wave emerge in the 1960s, but in Romania the communist ‘thawing period’ was too brief for such a phenomenon to occur. Amongst Romanian directors there were however some (semi)exceptions to the rule, and all of them (apart from Liviu Ciulei) lasted until the 1990s. The most notable one is Lucian Pintilie. Even if eclectic stylistically-speaking, his oeuvre is marked by features which make him unique in the Romanian cinema industry: principally his professionalism and his refusal to compromise with the communist regime. Generally speaking, Romanian cinema in the 1990s was characterised by a constant decrease in production (on average only around 10 per year, culminating with the above-mentioned collapse). Some of the main causes of this decline were obvious; the perpetuation of an incompetent, corrupt system, a certain way of thinking (which had already proven its inefficiency over the years), and the dominance of the official filmmaker of the former communist regime Sergiu Nicolaescu. On the other hand, some of the causes which were put forward by commentators were more speculative and often a source of controversy, such as the supposed ‘lack of talent’. This was proven to be untrue, as at the beginning of the 2000s a new generation of filmmakers became well-known: Radu Muntean, Cristi Puiu, Cristian Mungiu and, later on, Corneliu Porumboiu, Tudor Giurgiu and Cǎtǎlin Mitulescu.
One other very important factor during the 1990s was the disappearance of political censorship, which led to the birth and subsequent proliferation of a post-socialist, neo-realist style. Mircea Daneliuc is one of the directors who chose this approach, in films dominated by an atmosphere of hysteria. Some other directors also adopted this style (fortunately without the same hysterical elements), such as Florin Codre (Red Rats, 1990) and Lucian Pintilie (with his famous work The Oak in 1992 and the less accomplished Too Late in 1996). However, films about the communist regime sometimes also embraced parable-like forms, such as Luxury Hotel (1992), by director Dan Piţa; or The Sleep of the Island (1994), by director Mircea Veroiu. The 1990s also saw the release of the TV film No One Lives Here Anymore (1995) by Malvina Urşianu - a Romanian filmmaker who always aimed to create an original oeuvre (unfortunately in reality she never succeeded). In 2003 she tried again with What a Happy World, but the film was, unfortunately, no better than the previous one. Once censorship had been abolished, the 1990s also produced a series of bad-taste comedies dominated by vulgar, sexual vocabulary - such as The Second Fall of Constantinople (1994) by director Mircea Mureşan - or very poorly made productions, like those directed by Andrei Blaier (Divorce from Love, 1991; The Stone Cross, 1993; Terente, The King of the Marshes, 1995), Sergiu Nicolaescu, or Nicolae Mǎrgineanu. During the 1990s, two major Romanian film directors passed away: the unique Alexandru Tatos (who died in 1990, also the year that his last film Who Is Right? was released) and the more average Mircea Veroiu. Also during the 1990s, Romanian cinema began to co-produce B-movies with US companies. Unfortunately, in this decade few real talents emerged onto the Romanian cinema scene. Nae Caranfil was one of them, making his outstandingly fresh debut in 1993, with E pericolosi sporgersi, and then following this with Asphalt Tango and an Italian production - Dolce farniente. Radu Mihǎileanu was another, who also made his first full-length feature film in 1993 - Trahir (co-produced by France, Switzerland and Spain). He then left for France, where he has lived ever since. Last but not least, there was Bogdan Dumitrescu, who is now known for making full-length features in co-production with German studios.
The First Signs of a Resurrection - the early 2000s The beginning of the new millennium was a real low point for contemporary Romanian cinema. For a year and a half, not one full-length Romanian feature film was released in cinema theatres. The cause of this continuous decline was to due to the major economic and social problems of the country in this difficult transitional period. However, shortly after these extremely dark times, Romanians began noticing the first hopeful signs of a new emerging generation of directors who would soon become well-established. Cristi Puiu was one of the first young filmmakers who made a name for himself at this time. Stuff and Dough was released on the 1st of June 2001, and was considered to be a breath of fresh air. The actors in Stuff and Dough are incredibly natural in front of the camera; a camera used to actors
with experience in the theatre, with their theatrical manners, gestures and over exaggerated methods of reading their lines. In fact, the film itself as a whole is an excellent sample of ‘cinévérité’ - and a greatly accomplished one at that. There is a huge distance between the spontaneity and freshness of Stuff and Dough on the one hand, and the stifling artificiality of the films of Dan Piţa, Sergiu Nicolaescu, Nicolae Mǎrgineanu and Mircea Daneliuc (The Conjugal Bed, 1993; Fedup, 1994; The Snail’s Senator, 1995; and later on Ambassadors Seek Country, 2003; or The Nervous System, 2005). Puiu’s debut was compared to Spielberg’s Duel (1971), thanks to its remarkably maintained sense of suspense. Chronologically speaking, the second revelation of the early 2000s was from Cristian Mungiu, who released his debut feature Occident in September 2002. Just like Puiu’s Stuff and Dough or Nae Caranfil’s Philanthropy , Occident is set in the context of post-communist Romanian neo-realism and, just like the two above-mentioned films, is subtly free of the general hysteria of this genre of Romanian cinema. The puzzling, complex structure of the script is very rare, if not unique within the industry. It is the characters themselves that make the story advance. Occident is somehow related to Kurosawa’s Rashomon. The difference is that the narratives do not contradict each other, but converge towards the same point at the end of the story. The complicated mechanisms of the editing and the script work very well, just like the wheels of a very efficient machine. The film was presented at Cannes in the Directors’ Fortnight section. The last revelation of the early 2000s was Radu Muntean’s Joint, released in November 2002. The film brought a new point of focus into Romanian cinema: young people (especially boys, but also girls from time to time) from the poor neighbourhoods in the outskirts of the big towns. The film revolves around the same social phenomenon which is often reflected in Romanian hip-hop music. In addition, Radu Muntean brought to the screen a marginal social category which Romanians rarely discuss: the Gypsies. Joint’s title in Romanian is Fury, and fury is the emotion which dominates the film. The fury of poor young people forced to face daily violence, insecurity, and social injustice. ‘Fresh’ is again the word which best describes Joint, in the context of Romanian cinema in the new millennium.
2005 - 2006: The Confirmation of a Real Change The biggest revelation in Romanian cinema since 1990 has been Cristi Puiu’s second long feature, The Death of Mister Lǎzǎrescu (released in September 2005). Before even being released on the Romanian market, the film obtained the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes. It is undoubtedly the most successful hit film ever to come from Romania, as in addition to this recognition at Cannes, the film was awarded a large number of other distinctions and received remarkable critical reviews all over the world. The finesse demonstrated in the psychological analysis of the characters is outstanding in Puiu’s film, something very rare in Romanian cinema. Moreover, Cristi Puiu’s approach comes from the absurdist theatre movement - Eugen Ionescu and Samuel Beckett. The any-man facing his death is the real theme of the film.
The dire Romanian medical services are just the backdrop for a metaphysical interrogation of the meaning of life, the meaning of death, and the meaning of man’s existence on Earth. Puiu is an existentialist in his way of seeing things. ‘Man is mean, life is mean, and - most tragically - even death is awfully mean’ is the message that Cristi Puiu wants to convey. Thus, the film is about the grotesqueness of daily life, and death. Cristi Puiu’s judgement about man’s true nature is merciless and leaves us without hope. It is this judgement which provides the film with its great force. It is worth mentioning perhaps that The Death of Mister Lǎzǎrescu was meant to be the first episode of a series of Six Stories from the Outskirts of Bucharest. 2006 was the year when a large number of notable films were released: Love Sick by Tudor Giurgiu; 12:08 East of Bucharest by Corneliu Porumboiu; The Way I Spent the End of the World by Cǎtǎlin Mitulescu (all full-length feature debuts); and The Paper Will Be Blue by Radu Muntean (his second feature). All four directors belong to the younger generation (none of them are over 40). Love Sick is a first for Romanian cinema - the only film ever to speak about homosexuality. Moreover, the lesbian relationship in the film is counter-balanced by an incestuous one. The classical love triangle is thus turned into a highly controversial one. Love Sick was presented at the Berlinale, within the Panorama section, and at a large number of other international film festivals around the globe. It was released in Romania in April 2006.
Love Sick by Tudor Giurgiu (2006) © Libra Film
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
12:08 East of Bucharest was presented at Cannes in the Director’ Fortnight section, where it obtained the Golden Camera award. ‘Fresh’ is once again the word that best describes the qualities of this film. For the first time in the history of Romanian cinema, high-quality sarcasm dominates, and the whole film revolves around it. Porumboiu’s sense of derision is extremely acute, differing from Puiu’s in that it emphasises the humour rather than the gravity of situations. 12:08 East of Bucharest too speaks about the mean side of life, but not in a Beckett-like way. In Porumboiu’s film, the assertions of the characters are so removed from reality that they become farcical. In brief, the plot is about some intellectuals from a small provincial town who are trying to analyse the spread of the 1989 Romanian Revolution through their forgotten burg some 16 years after the event. It is the ridiculousness of their dialogue which creates humour within the film, the minimalist style and naturalism of the situations and actors all contributing to its success. It was released in Romania in September 2006. The Way I Spent the End of the World is a peculiar film in a way, in the context of the younger generation. Nostalgia is the key word, the story taking place during the last months of Ceauşescu’s dictatorship, seen through the eyes of a child and a teenager. The end-of-the-world atmosphere is very well-emphasised, determining every behaviour and social relation which takes place between the characters. Unlike Puiu and Porumboiu, Mitulescu does not deal in minimalism, and his careful attention to detail means that he belongs to an entirely different genre than his contemporaries.
The Way I Spent the End of the World by Catalin Mitulescu (2006) © Strada Film 42
This is one of the reasons why we speak about a ‘new generation’ when referring to today’s Romanian cinema, rather than a ‘new wave’: the directors do not belong to a distinct group and they do not cultivate the same aesthetics. On the contrary, they are very different in their methods of shooting and in their attitudes towards cinema. The Way I Spent the End of the World was presented at Cannes, in the Un Certain Regard section, and received a prize for the best female leading role (played by Dorotheea Petre). It was released in Romania in September 2006. The Paper Will Be Blue was first presented at the Locarno International Film Festival (selected for the official competition section), and then released in Romanian cinemas in October 2006. The film (once again) deals with the subject of the 1989 Romanian Revolution (it is nothing more than a coincidence that these three films all deal with the same theme), and more precisely with the events of the Revolution itself. The action takes place over the course of one single night and relates to a tragic episode, wherein several young soldiers are shot by their colleagues as the result of a misunderstanding. The film was very well constructed by director Radu Muntean, and both the dialogue and the performances are remarkably natural. The older generation has also continued to shoot during recent years. Awful films have been made, amongst others, by directors such as Sergiu Nicolaescu (Orient Express, 2004; 15, 2005), Dan Piţa (Second Hand and Dream Woman, both from 2005), Nicolae Mǎrgineanu (Bless You Prison, 2002) and Geo Saizescu (Pǎcalǎ Returns, 2006). However one should not imagine that all young Romanian directors have made notable films, some of the poorer quality productions being from Napoleon Helmis (Italian Girls, 2004), Andrei Enache (The Tank, 2003) and Radu Potcoavǎ (Happy End, 2006). Also, one director belonging to the older generation who has continued working - Lucian Pintilie - has recently produced films which are far superior to his work during the late 1990s, for example the outstanding, minimalist gems The Afternoon of a Torturer (2001), Niki and Flo (2003) and the medium-length feature Tertium non datur (2006). Last but not least, an excellent full-length documentary was released in cinemas (the first since 1990) - The Great Communist Bank Robbery1 (2004/2005), by director Alexandru Solomon. Documentary-making is actually rather common within the Romanian industry, but they rarely get a release in theatres, as 35 mm prints are expensive.
1 Some of the English film titles quoted in this article are informal translations; official English titles are not available for films which have not been released outside Romania or taken part in any international film festival. BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Cristi Puiu, ROMANIA
ÂŠ Mandragora (2005)
The Death of Mister Lazarescu
The title of this film is somehow the film itself: what we see, from beginning to end, is nothing more than the death of Mister Lazarescu. Nothing else takes place within whole film. It is simply the story of the last three hours of Mister Lazarescu. An old man, at home, starts to feel very ill - he has some problems with his stomach. He calls for an ambulance, and as he waits he asks for help from his neighbours. The ambulance arrives, and itâ€™s the beginning of a long odyssey through different hospitals, in a hopeless race against the time. With such a plot, it would appear very difficult to keep the interest of the viewer alive for over two hours. But at the same time, this is the principal and strongest force of the film. We are not just following the story of one man. The film gives few precise details. It reaches the difficult goal of shifting the subject of the story from what seems to be the main character, Mister Lazarescu, to something different. The subject is not in fact Lazarescu, but death - his death. The spectator knows from the very beginning what the ending to the story will be. Thus it is not so important to know who this man was, what his life was like, or why he is going to die. The main character of this film is death. How does a man slowly leave his life behind, and what happens in that transitional period? This is how the film manages to keep our curiosity alive throughout. We are curious to see how Mister Lazarescu will arrive at his end, we can see him losing his consciousness little by little, being moved around from hospital to hospital. Death is all over this film. The narration is given in a style typical of documentaries, but all that we see on screen is pure fiction. There are good performances, a well-structured screenplay, a narration in real-time, long silences. At the end, we want to see the last minute, the very last second of the life of Mister Lazarescu. Will he be able to die with dignity? Will he die in the ambulance? Will he be alone in his last seconds? This film is universal, it doesnâ€™t refer to the particular conditions of a precise hospital in a specific country. In this way a man dies in Romania, but any man could die like this in any country. This is why we are so curious to see what is happening, even if we already knew the ending from the very first second of the film. We want to see these last moments of life because we want to know what will eventually happen to us. We know that sooner or later we will be on that ambulance too, looking for a final hope in some hospital. We are on that ambulance. Simone Fenoil 44
Corneliu Porumboiu, ROMANIA
12:08 East of Bucharest It is 12:08, what is Romania doing? It is not preparing its midday meal, or taking a walk through Bucharest… it is having a good gossip. And where is it gossiping? On a small television studio set, of course. At a time when historic wounds are being well-bandaged, this film from Corneliu Porumboiu stands apart. It does not return to the Romania of Ceaucescu in flashback, but examines it through people’s memories. At least with what memories they have left. The subject of 12:08 East of Bucharest is thus: how does one discuss objectively a past which, for X or Y reasons, has already been remodelled? What are the two guests of the programme within the film guilty of, if not the fundamentally human vice of fabricating the truth? Here we have portraits of characters who, through a television programme, each want to restore their own reputations. Our teacher is an alcoholic. Our presenter, a barnyard philosopher. And our old man, a part-time Father Christmas. Undervalued by the other inhabitants of their village, they try, each in their own way, to show that they are worth more than is thought of them, and so transform the 22nd of December 1989 into a day of personal glory.
© Perisop Films (2006)
From indifferent failures in the outside the world (and individuals who were submissive to the dictatorship of Ceaucescu), they become activists, fists raised. Yes, their village rose up before
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the official hour of the end of the regime. Yes, they were revolutionaries. The film becomes all the more farcical as it focuses, for a duration of 45 minutes, on a universe of lies which are constantly put into question. The telephone calls from the villagers throughout the programme, seeking to correct the version of events put forward by our two stooges, are as much a reminder from the director of the difficulty in speaking the truth, of being truthful. Many contemporary films walk this tightrope which is the separation/union between fiction and reality, always trying to deliver the absolute truth. Porumboiu is not of this philosophy. He questions more than he delivers. His film has the appearance of a parable, but it is not. The viewer will conclude that the revolution did not take place in this village, and yet without being subjected to any self-righteous morality. It is interesting to note how our three protagonists take pleasure in the roles which they give themselves. The television programme becomes almost an open theatre, an acting lesson, captured by hesitant camera-work. Assistants appear in the corner of the frame to readjust a microphone, the camera clumsily zooms in and out before freezing on one shot. Porumboiu shows us the mechanics of his mise en scĂ¨ne, not forgetting to reveal its difficulties. As he explores the deformation of history, the Romanian director questions the cinematographic form. This may technically be a film within a film, but the main intended purpose is to be an exposure of the fact that cinema, like history, is inherently subjective. This is where the difficulty of the exercise comes from. The television set is recreated space in which each character is as much actor as director: actor because he plays with his memories, director because in deforming them he presents them to viewers as the only objective truth. â€œNobody is interested in the revolution anymoreâ€?, says one of the characters in the film. Porumboiu, with a comical situation and a shoestring budget, proves to us the opposite. Gwendoline Soublin
Cristian Mungiu, ROMANIA
4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 days It could have been an innocuous, detailed account. Four months, three weeks and two days. Except that the title of Cristian Mungiu’s film hides an unrelenting countdown. 4, 3, 2: one declared death sentence. At this stage of a pregnancy, abortion is entirely illegal. Practised in spite of everything, the act then becomes clandestine. Doubly traumatising. Such is the starting point of 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days. Gabita, a young student living in university halls, prepares herself for an illegal abortion within the walls of a city-centre hotel room. From the early morning preparations until the middle of the night, her roommate, Otilia, accompanies her throughout this irreversible ordeal, which will leave her too deeply marked. Humiliated and violated following the blackmail imposed upon them by the ‘angel-maker’, handsomely paid for what is a most rudimentary operation, the two young women must then dispose of the foreign body, “expelled” even from the bathroom tiling. Unbearable, Otila’s frantic and lonely wandering leads her through the labyrinth of small, dirty streets of a town plunged into the inky black of an endless night, disturbed by barking dogs and the sound of unknown footsteps. Almost hounded, she finishes her blind race at the top of a squalid stairwell, facing the flap of a narrow rubbish chute. The deed is horrifying. Return to the sizzling neon lights of the hotel. On the ground floor, the popular music of a finishing marriage ceremony sounds. Between the two friends, only one question remains: was she able to bury it or not? The question is a murmur, the response a last sealed pact between them. Not to be spoken of again. Forget, already. Try to forget. Give birth to a new secret. An unyielding urban and social tale capturing a harsh reality, 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days reveals a form of urgent cinema, refusing all pathos and dead screen time. We are made to think of the Dardenne brothers. In imposing a very raw style, Cristian Mungiu sets himself apart from the tragicomic, a common trait within young Romanian cinema. Indirectly however, he shares with his compatriots an attraction towards relating stories which belong to their recent communist past. Although the theme of abortion is not specifically Romanian, it brings to the fore the past of a country traumatised by Ceauşescu’s regime. One of the first laws to be repealed after the fall of the regime was “decree 770”, put into effect in 1966, forbidding abortion for women under the age of 40 who had not already conceived at least four children. The negative consequences of this pro-natalist policy were many: the development of clandestine abortion, the considerable rise in maternal mortality rates, etc. This second feature film from Cristian Mungiu reminds us that the after-effects of what was called by Ceauşescu “the Golden Age of Romania” have not yet finished healing. Emilie Padellec BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days by Cristian Mungiu (2007) © Wild Bunch Distribution
California Dreamin’ by Cristian Nemescu (2007) © Temple Film 48
Cristian Nemescu, ROMANIA
May 1999. A group of American NATO soldiers are transporting top-secret military equipment through Romania, en route to Kosovo. Anticipating an easy mission, Captain Doug Jones tells his troops to “sit back and enjoy the ride”. All does not go to plan though when they find themselves stuck in the small town of Căpâlniţa, after Doiaru, railway station master and corrupt local overlord, refuses them passage without official customs papers. News of the arrival spreads quickly, and soon the entire population of Căpâlniţa is in a state of excitement. As the camera flits between different characters, we are introduced to an ambitious town mayor keen to attract business, protesting factory workers desperate to make their voices heard, and local girls simply excited at the prospect of young American soldiers… Part of the so-called “New Wave” generation of young Romanian directors, Cristian Nemescu has produced an accomplished debut feature - unfortunately also his last, as he was tragically killed in a car accident just a few months after finishing editing. A sadly premature end, to a very promising beginning. Constantly moving between multiple plot threads, California Dreamin’ is rich in detail and scattered with slightly surreal moments (watch out for a brief but delightfully funny adolescent-lust dream sequence). Exploiting the interactions between the stranded troops and the local community to full comic effect, Nemescu offers us an entertaining, if at times rather exaggeratedly eccentric, view of provincial Romanian life. There is however more than enough drama to prevent the story from falling into simple parody, and the main characters are far from one-dimensional figures, thanks to subtly ambiguous performances from the likes of Armand Assante and well-established Romanian actor Razvan Vasilescu. A welcome central focus is also provided by an endearingly awkward love triangle involving Doiaru’s wayward teenage daughter, the US sergeant and the sensitive class geek. The film expresses a criticism of US foreign policy which is given a historical dimension, through black and white flashbacks to Doiaru’s traumatic childhood experiences during and just after the second world war, explaining thus his real motivations (as Doiaru tells the Captain, “I wait for the Americans to come…to save us from the Germans, the Russians, Ceauşescu. It’s funny that you come now”). The most clichéd of narrative devices this may be, fortunately here the result is neither too heavy-handed nor overly simplistic. As the different plotlines collide in a dizzying and violent final climax - involving, amongst other things, a blackout, a bomb explosion, an orgy and an angry mob - nobody emerges as moral victor.
JudE Lister BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
An overview of the (new)1 Croatian cinema Jasna Ĺ˝mak
Like all young cinema industries, the Croatian one (Croatia obtained its independence in 1991) has had little time to develop and to create a distinct identity of its own. The very small number of films made within the past 15 years - around 90 in total, approximately 6 per year - is thus quite understandable, as is their varied quality.2 There were many factors which hindered the process of creating an established film industry, some of which are still valid today. Probably the most important of these factors was the war fought against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and the subsequent political changes involved in the fall of Yugoslavia (i.e. the transition from socialist to democratic state). All of this prevented the setting up of continuous film production with a firmly established regulatory system, and unfortunately there is still a lot of work to do in that area. Nevertheless, before gaining its independence, Croatia already had a long and important history in filmmaking as a part of the former Yugoslavia. This certainly gave a good starting point, but it was also something of a burden for future filmmakers. It is understandable then that filmmakers, when faced with the new reality that was laid before them during the first few years of the new Croatia, chose the important changes their society was going through as the dominant themes for their films. Indeed, there are very few films made in the last 15 years which do not (directly or indirectly) deal with either the above mentioned war, the Yugoslav way of life which existed before it, or its aftermath, the Croatian nation and its newly established state. The treatment of these subjects of course varied over the years, often depending on the current political situation in the country.
War years, war movies Even during the hardest years of the war, film production survived, and there were several films made (or perhaps more accurately, finished, as for most of them production had already begun before the war). They were small productions, without big international or even national success amongst the general public and the critical press. From their titles we can easily conclude 1 For the purposes of this article, â€˜newâ€™ will refer to Croatian cinema after 1991. 2 Before going any further, it is perhaps necessary to point out that this article will only be referring to full-length feature films produced in Croatia, and will exclude shorts, documentaries, animations and experimental films 50
what they were about, just to mention a few; Zlatne godine (‘Golden years’), Isprani (‘Washed out’), Priča iz Hrvatske (‘The Story from Croatia’), Hrvatske katedrale (‘Croatian Cathedrals’), Vukovar se vraća kući (‘Vukovar: The Way Home’)… They were mainly either very dark, uninventive war stories - frequently with a strong national perspective - or nostalgic, patriotic melodramas. In both cases they often had poorly formed stories and characters. In 1994 however, there was an exception to all of this, if only in terms of the money which was invested – a big international English-language production was shot in Croatia. It was Gospa (‘Our Lady’), by Jakov Sedlar. Apart from the title, the film had nothing to do with religion, but instead depicted a black and white view of the communist era. It was a view which corresponded to that of the government in charge at the time. The same author would go on to shoot two other similar productions throughout the following years. It was during this same period that many new and/or young filmmakers (e.g. Nola, Žmegač, Ogresta) emerged who would later deliver more important works, whereas the older generation of directors who had already been working during Yugoslav times, although still active, were to become less and less engaged (Berković, Babaja, Papić). It is perhaps in this era that the widespread negative attitude towards homemade Croatian films was born. This common view can be summarised in the sentence: ‘They’re boring and all about war.’ This statement would fortunately be proven wrong, at least partly, in the years to come.
Times of Comedy In 1996 something happened that finally shook up Croatian cinematography, bringing viewers back to see domestic films and obtaining international recognition at the same time. It was the first war comedy – Kako je počeo rat na mom otoku (‘How the War Started on My Island’) from director Vinko Brešan, which was an absolute hit. Just like his second film Maršal (‘Marshal Tito’s Spirit’), it had a well-constructed and intriguing story (involving a conflict between the Yugoslav Army and a group of villagers at the time of the Yugoslav break-up), colourful characters with memorable quotes and an island setting. The plot of Maršal, on the other hand, was built around the controversial premise of the spirit of the former head of state, Tito, coming back to life in a small Croatian village… The same year as Maršal (2000), another successful film was launched which used humour of a very different type: Blagajnica hoće ići na more (‘The Cashier Wants to Go to the Seaside’). It was the debut of one of the most prominent young directors in Croatia, Dalibor Matanić. The film was a critical examination of the transitional period in Croatia, but again also a comedy (although with a central female character this time). Two years previously, director Snježana Tribuson had managed to completely avoid the war period in her acclaimed romantic comedy Tri muškarca Melite Žganjer (‘The Three Men of Melita Žganjer’).
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Drama There were a number of equally inspiring movies of an entirely different genre - drama produced after the war. Also made by young directors, in many ways these films differed from the war period dramas, although, again, many of them dealt with war and post-war themes. Amongst them there were films like Mondo Bobo by Goran Rušinović (1997), Nebo, sateliti (‘The Sky, the Satellites’, 2000) and Sami (‘Alone’) by Lukas Nola (2001). These productions were labelled by some as ‘art movies’, because they managed to develop specific, atmospheric environments and powerful visual images which raised them above the other, more averagelooking films of the same period. In their non-conventional style and aesthetics they were closer to the independent European film scene, proving that Croatia hadn’t lost touch with contemporary art movements from abroad.
Marshal Tito’s Spirit by Vink Bresan (1999) © Interfilm
Since the year 2000… As quite frequently in Croatia many of the films produced never even reach home theatres but are screened only at specialised festivals for Croatian films (e.g. the ‘Pula film festival’ or the ‘Dani hrvatskog filma’), and very few reach the international market (even those that do rarely make it into film theatres, and if they do, it is always only in neighbouring countries), these
few past years have shown a growing trend for national film productions, both in terms of the number of films made and their popularity. In the year 2002, Fine mrtve djevojke (‘Fine Dead Girls’) was shot by Matanić, a drama (which develops into a tragedy) intended to demonstrate the homophobia existing within the new Croat society by taking a lesbian couple as its focus. Matanić would in his later films deal with other marginalized segments of society, always taking them as his main characters - for example a mute painter (in the biography of Slava Raškaj) and a young yuppie (a subculture that is only now emerging in Croatia) who gets infected with AIDS in Volim te (‘I Love You’). Since Croatian national television has always played an important role in the production of new films (a position many want and have been trying to change), many of the films produced have been subsequently transformed into television series. The most famous of all (and, of course, the most discussed) are perhaps Konjanik (‘Horseman’) in 2003 and Duga mračna noć (‘Long Dark Night’) in 2004 by the veteran directors Ivanda and Vrdoljak. Both were large-scale productions with epic narratives set in the past. One dealt with the battles of the Turkish Empire, while the other was set during WWII (and therefore could not avoid having a political dimension). Amongst the films which dealt with more recent history, there were a few omnibus stories in which the upshots of the war and transition could be seen. These were Tu (‘Here’) by Ogresta; a successful debut by Ostojić called Ta divna splitska noć (‘A Wonderful Night in Split’); and Sex, piće i krvoproliće (‘Sex, Boose and Short Fuse’) by Matić, Jurić and Nuić. Made between 2003 and 2004, all of them were dramas, focussing on characters such as junkies, criminals, ex-soldiers or generally people without ambition for the future. It was a gallery of characters often used in Croatian film, since they would all become an important segment of society as of the 1990s. In 2003, director Brešan shot his third movie Svjedoci (‘Witnesses’), a drama based on a novel which, for the first time, portrayed Croats committing a crime upon a Serbian family. Whilst the former years of the new Croatian film era were often dedicated to dramas, the past two years have been marked again by comedies with eccentric and lively characters, frequently offering an ironic view of the ‘nouveaux riches’ in Croatia (and, finally, leaving the wars behind). In 2005, Što je Iva snimila 21. listopada 2003. (‘What Iva Recorded on October 21st, 2003’) was shot by Tomislav Radić, who was already known for using elements of ‘cinéma verité’ in his features. The film is constructed from a young girl’s point of view as she films the birthday party celebration her parents have organised for her. In his second film Oprosti za kung fu (‘Sorry for Kung Fu’), Ognjen Sviličić (also Radić’s co-writer on ‘What Iva recorded…’) brought to the surface the issue of cultural differences in the new Croatian democracy, focusing this time on a young mother carrying a child by a Chinese father. Two of the latest films produced in Croatia are based on books written by the same author: Ante Tomić. Što je muškarac bez brkova? (‘What’s a Man Without a Moustache?’) and Karaula (‘Border Post’) were made respectively by well-known directors Hribar and Grlić. The latter is the first regional co-production involving all of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, viewed by many as an attempt to ‘rebuild’ something which no longer exists (approved of by those who
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Karaula by Rajko Grlic (2006) © Propeler Film
see it as a logical step towards broadening the market for films, but criticised by others). The film follows the lives of soldiers in a Yugoslav army garrison and ends with brutal killings, a narrative which acts as a kind of mirror reflection of the violent war in Yugoslavia which would actually occur some years later. The process of reunification on this level is certainly something which will mark the future of the Croatian film industry (and of course other film industries of former Yugoslavian countries), which has finally started to recover - just like the country itself after the transformations which it underwent in the 1990s. This can be seen not only in the number of films produced and sums of money invested in them but also in their quality, both from the critics’ and the audiences’ points of view. Bibliography Škrabalo, Ivo: 101 godina filma u Hrvatskoj 1896. – 1997, Nakladni zavod Globus, Zagreb, 1998. Turković, Hrvoje i Majcen, Vjekoslav: Hrvatska kinematografija, Ministarstvo kulture Republike Hrvatske, Zagreb, 2003. www.film.hr
The Phenomenon of Bosnian Cinema Una Gunjak
Fifteen years ago (on the 1st of March of 1992) Bosnia and Herzegovina stopped being part of the SFRY - The Socialist and Federative Republic of Yugoslavia - and was recognized by the United Nations as an independent republic. This review of the cinematographic production of Bosnia and Herzegovina will thus attempt to look at the past fifteen years in order to summarise what has been achieved. It can be said that a lot has already been done, unfortunately not in terms of quantity, but at least in terms of quality. Indeed, it is hard to believe that such a small country, destroyed by war and with so many internal socio-economic and political problems, has accomplished so much in such a short period of time. Let us not forget that during the first year of its independence, Bosnia and Herzegovina was too much of a battlefield to be capable of film production, thus delaying even further the development of a national cinema industry. But now, an Oscar, a Golden Bear, a Leopard, a Felix, awards in New York, Kiev, Toronto… let us take a step back and take a look at how it all happened.
Before the Oscar During the war, film production was almost non-existent, although not entirely. SaGa (the production group which gathered together most of the remaining directors in Sarajevo along with their respective students from the Academy) managed to produce a few documentaries, the most important of which was Covjek, Bog, Monstrum (‘Man, God, Monster’), which won the European Film Academy award (on hearing the news, its four creators were sitting in a basement in a bombed Sarajevo, toasting with what little beer someone might have managed to find). Still, the films which SaGa succeeded in producing were more an attempt to survive psychologically than real film productions. The crucial year for Bosnian Cinematography was actually 1997. That was the year when Savrseni Krug (‘Perfect Circle’), directed by Ademir Kenovic, came out. It is irrelevant to say that Bosnia gave a very low percentage of money for the film in terms of production, as this is more than understandable given the circumstances. Savrseni Krug, written by Kenovic himself together with Abdulah Sidran (once Kusturica’s co-writer for Do You Remember Dolly Bell? and When Father was Away on Business), was well received by national audiences.
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The story is about a poet whose family has managed to escape the siege and who, one day, finds two refugee children in his apartment. He cannot take care of them, as he is incapable of even taking care of himself, but on the other hand he can neither throw them out nor abandon them. To make everything even more tragic, one of the boys is deaf. With an extraordinary performance by Mustafa Nadarevic in the role of the poet, the film passed its most difficult test: it was shown in Sarajevo, not even a year and a half after the siege had ended. Audiences at the time were very sensitive. More than the quality of the film itself, which was of course examined by numerous colleagues of Kenovic, the audience were concerned with its truthfulness. They wanted to be able to say: â€œYes, this is how it wasâ€?. That might be the reason why few are aware of the success that the film has obtained at foreign festivals, which has given Kenovic an important position at the forefront of European cinematography.
Beautiful People by Jasmin Dizdar (1999) ÂŠ Positif
For the next Bosnian long feature we had to wait until the year 2000. In the meantime, whilst struggling with all possible kinds of economic crises, Bosnia and Sarajevo gave birth to the Sarajevo Film Festival. The event, which celebrated its 6th anniversary in the summer of 2000, is still constantly expanding and growing in importance today, attracting guests such as John Malkovich, Alfonso Cuaron, Steve Buscemi and Mike Leigh. Despite being very small, and in spite of the fact that organisers were never sure if the next SFF would have enough funding to
take place, it has provided something that Bosnia desperately needed: a feeling that at least in one domain it is marching alongside the rest of the world. The SFF does not just offer the best art films and blockbusters of the current global market, but above all continually raises questions about national production, means of support and (the non-existence of ) funding for auteurs and their films. This paternal aspect culminated a couple of years ago in a project which SFF developed with the guidance of the Rotterdam Film Festival. It was called ‘CineLink’, and was concerned with the development of a co-production market for filmmakers within the region. But let us leave the Sarajevo Film Festival, which requires in depth discussion in its own right, and get back to the subject of Bosnian Cinematography. In 2000, two films saw the light of the day: Tunel (‘Tunnel’) and Mlijecni put (‘Milky Way’) - both produced and directed by Faruk Sokolovic. Nobody has ever managed to understand how the money was found to make both films, and why they were released in the same year. However, what was on the contrary much more clear was that the quality of the films was poor. Extremely poor. Trashy, and aimed at the lowest demanding audiences, they did not obtain too much success. Tunel was supposed to be a drama but ended up as a badly-told war story full of exaggerated performances, doubtful ideology, and an overall amateur approach. Milky Way was a comedy, but succeeded in provoking laughter only because of how trashy it was. The dialogue in the film was shallow, and the story rather weak. Sokolovic and his wife would have done better to use the footage for their equally trashy TV series Visa for the Future (which they began producing in 2004, and which had a much wider success with popular audiences). Before discussing the big moment when the world became acquainted with the face and the work of a young Bosnian called Danis Tanovic, I would really like to underline the importance of one film which came out in 1999 and won the ‘Un Certain Regard’ Award in Cannes, among other accolades. Unfortunately however it cannot be called Bosnian. I am talking about Beautiful People by Jasmin Dizdar. A brilliant film - lovely, moving, funny and smart. Jasmin Dizdar, a young director from Sarajevo who studied at FAMU in Prague, left Sarajevo in 1989, before anyone could have even dreamt of the possibility of a war. The film tells the parallel and loosely connected stories of several Bosnian refugees in London, and the English people whose lives they influence. Two wonderful short films must also be mentioned. The first, Troskok (‘Hop, Skip, Jump’, 2000) gained awards worldwide, including the Panorama New York Film Festival Award at the Berlinale. The second one, 10 Minutes was directed by Ahmed Imamovic and written by Vuletic. This one-sequence film was awarded the EFA Felix for Best European Short.
Along Came the Oscar As a measure of quality, the value of an Oscar may be at times debatable, however it is by far the most important and influential of awards. Danis Tanovic won an Oscar and more than 40 other very important awards worldwide for his first feature: No Man’s Land (‘Nicija Zemlja’).
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It came out in 2001, but the Oscar was awarded in 2002. Bosnia felt like it had won the lottery. “This is for my country, for Bosnia and Herzegovina” was what Danis said in his acceptance speech at the ceremony. And so it was, it was for Bosnia. Although the country had not given any funding towards No Man’s Land, and had no legal ownership over it, it was an inherently Bosnian film. Everything in it was Bosnian; the director, the main actor, the language, the story… No Man’s Land was in fact an American-style production, aimed to appeal to a wide audience. It was good, but not outstanding. Some scenes were not entirely truthful in their construction, and the performances of the actors were sometimes rather weak. Nicija Zemlja was created in line with the sensitivities of western audiences, complete with a ‘nice’ ending. It may offend many Bosnians to say so, but it was far from a masterpiece. In my opinion the best effect of Danis’ Oscar win is the fact that Bosnian politicians finally reacted. The Fund for Cinematography was established, and began helping Bosnian filmmakers to raise funding. Of course the Oscar, reinforced later by a ‘Felix’ and a ‘Bear’ gave an amazing emotional push to this new enterprise. 2003 thus turned out to be a very rich year for Bosnian films. Three big, long awaited productions were released: Gori vatra (‘Fuse’) directed by Pjer Zalica, Ljeto u Zlatnoj Dolini (‘Summer In the Golden Valley’) and Remake by Dino Mustfic. All were very different from each other in their narratives, production methods and level of success. Fuse was the biggest national success, hyped up further by the ‘Leopard’ which Zalica won in Locarno. A powerful soundtrack accompanied the film, and the leading song became a sort of national anthem for months. This obviously did not harm the film, which told the story of a small Bosnian village that was divided during the war. As the process of reintegration began, the village was expecting a visit from the American president, Bill Clinton. Despite being a national success, the film suffers from some very strong weaknesses, mainly weak performances and dialogue which is often rather shallow and relies too much on low-brow humour. Summer Is the Golden Valley is a city story, innovative in its cinematography and direction (Vuletic won a Tiger Award at Rotterdam). Unfortunately, the film drowns in the amateurish performances of the (non-professional) main actors, and above all in its desire to be an American gangster movie with ‘a Bosnian flavour’. There are exceptional supporting roles and an amazing script, but it is overall a weak film. Its musical score on the contrary is more than appropriate for the youth of today: good, powerful hip-hop. Both Fuse and Summer Is... were made by Refresh Productions under the guidance of Ademir Kenovic. Remake on the other hand differs from both films. It is set both in the present and in the past, as it tells the parallel stories of a father (during the Second World War) and his son (during the recent Bosnian War). Here Mustafic proves himself to be a talented director, especially because of his excellent casting and good dramaturgy (until this film he had only worked in theatre). However, the World War II story ends up being rather irrelevant, since it is quickly forgotten. All three above-mentioned young directors had been working on their projects for such a long time, and had found such difficulty in finding funding, that whatever the end result it was a pleasure to see these projects finally realised.
In 2004, just one film came out - Kod Amidze Idriza (‘At Uncle Idriza’s’) directed by Pjer Zalica. The film was very well received by audiences and soon became a hit, but this was nowhere near to the euphoria provoked by Fuse. Zalica had taken advantage of his opportunities, making his second film as soon as he could, and the result was mediocre. The three main characters were interpreted by three brilliant actors, but the story was almost non-existent. Furthermore, Zalica had played the same card as before, with a catchy score and a hit song at the very end of the film. In this film, it was not nearly as effective. The film was only saved by the supremely talented performances from Mustafa Andrei, Samoa Sociologic and Send Basic. In 2005 the Sarajevo Film Festival had the pleasure of hosting the world premieres of two new Bosnian films: the first feature by Ahmed Imam Vic, Go West and Dobra dustman privacy (‘Well Tuned Corpses’) by older director Benjamin Filipovic - who had made his first film before the war.
Summer in the Golden Valley by Srdjan Vuletic (2003) © Refresh Production
Go West is very close to being a masterpiece. A gay love story between a Bosnian Serb (Milan) and a Bosnian Muslim (Kenan) at the beginning of the war in Sarajevo. In order to escape the tragic events around them, they find shelter in Milan’s orthodox village where Kenan is forced to dress up as a woman to save both of their lives. He is a Muslim in an Orthodox Serb village, and they are gay. There were high expectations of Ahmed Imamovic’s debut, and the film delivered on many levels: principally with a good strong script (co-written with Enver Puska) and witty, imaginative direction - some scenes are fabulous, allegorical, and extremely powerful
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visually. There is just one small problem with Go West, that the whole story was framed within an interview given to Jeanne Moreau, who plays a Dutch journalist. Imagine a wonderful painting, and then imagine putting that delicate and refined canvas into a kitsch frame. Go West was much talked about. After the war Bosnia and Herzegovina was clearly degraded in terms of culture, and Go West suffered all kinds of criticism, both from the three main religious Headquarters and from narrow-minded politicians. Fortunately, Go West proved itself to be bigger than the pettyminded people that wanted to defeat it - it won many prizes, including at the New York Film Festival and in Montpellier. While Go West was sensitive to the controversy surrounding it, Well Tuned Corpses was not. It was a good Bosnian popcorn movie. Far from being stupid, trashy, primitive and naĂŻve, Filipovic managed to make an unpretentious, enjoyable film, although the story and the directing were neither particularly innovative nor intelligent. Four stories, rather superficial, but not to the point of patronising audiences, interact and finally are brought together by a couple of strange corpses. Not a film one would still be thinking about more than an hour after having seen it, but definitely the kind of production that Bosnia has been lacking. Unfortunately, Benjamin Filipovic died last year due to a heart attack.
Grbavica by Jasmila Zbanic (2006) ÂŠ Coop99
2006 was again a big year for Bosnian cinema. Young female director Jasmila Zbanic finally concluded Grbavica (‘Esma’s Secret’) - a project she had been working on for six years. In fact, not only did she simply manage to make the film, but with it she won the ‘Golden Bear’ at the Berlinale. As Zbanic had taken such a long time in production, firstly of course struggling with financial obstacles and then a series of misfortunes which occurred during the shooting (like the main actress, a young girl, breaking a leg on the shoot), at the time nobody really believed that she would succeed. But she did. She managed to make an extraordinary film, the emotional power of which overwhelms the spectator. She managed to show violence without a single violent scene. The story is about a woman, Esma, whose young daughter wants to go on a school excursion. Esma does not have the money to pay for it, but the daughter thinks that they do not need the money because she believes that her father was a war hero (the children of war heroes do not need to pay). This is where Esma’s dark secret comes in… Grbavica provoked intense debate within the country and aroused a lot of controversy, but nobody could deny the bravura of this young female director. However, in my opinion, Jasmila was forced to cut some scenes to suit the festivals and the international producer. It seems that some emotions have not been expressed fully. Three other films have emerged recently from the Bosnian film industry. The first, Nebo iznad krajolika (‘Skies Above the Landscape’) is a delicious, heartfelt comedy about an employee of the French Embassy in Sarajevo, Deborah, who ends up falling in love with a paragliding instructor somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the Bosnian mountains. The film, directed by Nenad Djuric, is well-structured, well-acted, amusing and unpretentious. The second is a lovely sixty-minute indoor drama, Mama I Tata (‘Mum’n’Dad’) made by Faruk Loncarevic. This little film, which tells the story of an ordinary old couple playing cards and going about their everyday lives, has just started its journey through the festivals. The third, Nafaka (‘Nafaka-Luck’) directed by Jasmin Durakovic, is a collection of stories about a chain of characters (both during and after the war) who all believe in ‘the Miracle of Sarajevo’ The film has seen a mixed response from domestic audiences, but has nevertheless managed to be screened at various film festivals. In terms of quality, the Bosnian film industry seems to be doing very well. Almost every film that has been made so far (and the number is lower than 15) has won awards. Of course, awards are not always a guarantee of quality, but it is certain that very few of these films can be described as poor. In brief, the money which has been invested so far has been well recompensed. Furthermore, these films have brought satisfaction not only to the producers and the writers, but to the country as a whole. Awards are good, but what Bosnian cinema needs right now are more developed structures in order to increase the rate of production. International success will not wane if more films are made, on the contrary.
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Ahmed Imamovic, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
Go West Go West is the debut full-length long feature from Ahmed Imamovic, which he made after having won the EFA Best Short Award for Ten Minutes. Go West, co-written with Enver Puska tells a love story between two men at the beginning of the war in Sarajevo. The story would not be so tragic if these two, already controversial lovers for those times, were not of different nationalities (Milan, played by Tarik Filipovic, is a Bosnian Serb and Kenan, played by Mario Drmac, is a Bosnian Muslim). Trying to escape death and to flee the country to find peace in the West, they take refuge in Milan’s Orhodox Serbian village in the hills near Sarajevo, with Kenan disguised as a woman in order to hide his true identity. It is meant to be just a stopover for the couple, however it seems that the circumstances are against them. The whole village seems like some kind of purgatory; twisted characters, nationalistic maniacs, depraved lives… Milan is forced to join the army, whilst Kenan is left behind to agonise over the fate that has befallen the Bosnian Muslim population. Will they last long enough to manage to ‘go west’? Will they be able to keep their secret in such conditions? Go West focuses on a very delicate subject, a gay love story. It was a taboo in 1992, and it still is (although fortunately not to quite the same extent). Upon its release, the film provoked huge controversy. Both the director and his co-writer met with fierce attacks from the press, religious groups and certain individuals. None of this however could change the fact that Go West is a very good film, almost a masterpiece. It provides the viewer with a provocative, emotionally involving story, a strong visual experience (there are some marvellous shots, for example the legless priest hanging on a rope) and masterful performances (from Rade Serbedzija, Mirjana Karanovic - a true Primadonna of the ex-Yugoslav cinema - and two amazing young actors in the leading roles, Mario Drmac and Tarik Filipovic). There are only two negative things to be said about this film. The first is that the core narrative is bundled up in completely useless gift-wrapping, the whole story being related by Kenan in a TV interview with a Dutch journalist, played by Jeanne Moreau. With all due respect to the outstanding Madame Moreau, I am disappointed that the filmmakers felt it necessary to employ an international star in order (one supposes) to make a Bosnian film more appealing to international audiences. It seems to be a rather silly frame for such a beautiful canvas. The second negative point, although not an actual criticism of the film, is that its brilliance was wasted on the narrow-minded mass audiences in Bosnia, and in all the ex-Yugoslav countries. As Kenan points out at the beginning of the film: it may be that Serbs hate Muslims and Croats, Croats hate Muslims and Serbs, and Muslims hate Serbs and Croats, but they are all united in their hatred of homosexuals. Una Gunjak 62
Go West by Ahmed Imamovic (2005) © Comprex
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From Yugoslav to Serbian Cinema 1991-2001:
Themes and Characteristics of a Cinema Industry in Transition María Palacios Cruz
While in the 1990s other former Yugoslav republics such as Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia were already building their new national cinematographic identities practically from scratch, things in Serbia and Montenegro were much more complex. Still officially Yugoslavia (or more accurately, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, or FRY), the country’s film industry appeared to be the natural heir of the former Socialist Yugoslav cinema. It was a decade marked by the rise of Serbian orthodox nationalism as well as by currents of Yugo-nostalgia, a decade of war, inflation, embargo and international isolation. The ‘new Yugoslav’ cinema hesitated between a potential new Serbian (or Serbo-Montenegrean) identity and the old Yugoslav one. The post-Yugoslav transition in Serbia (in all aspects - political, social and cultural) lasted for longer than in other former Yugoslav republics and perhaps only came to an end when both Serbia and Montenegro declared their respective independencies. This article is intended to be an examination of the themes evoked by Yugoslav cinema of the 1990s. Strongly influenced by the events of the decade, the films from this period (1991-2001) are perhaps the best testimony of those terrible years.
The impact of reality “Concern with recent history, devastating wars, ethnic cleansing and balkanisation became the main thematic obsession of Yugoslav cinema at the end of the last century.”1 During the 1990s, the magnitude of political events dominated the cinematographic medium. Comedies, science fiction, historical dramas… the war became the irrefutable reference for every genre. Yet, this was nothing new for Yugoslav cinema. As Marcel Martin wrote in 1970, “Yugoslav cinema is the most political of all Socialist cinemas. […] It is a cinema that doesn’t settle for simply suggesting and evoking the social or even political aspects of the national situation, but that tries to explain them and to denounce what’s going wrong. […] Yugoslav cinema tackles the present and it does so with an unprecedented lucidity and vigour.”2 1 Dakovic N., “Remembrance of the things past : Emir Kusturica’s Underground (1995)”, in Rings G., Morgan-Tamosunas R. (ed.), European Cinema: Inside Out, Universitatsverlag, Heidelberg, 2003b, p. 245. 2 “Semaine du Cinéma Yougoslave”, 23-27 octobre 1970, Théâtre du Parvis, Bruxelles (translation by the author). 64
Pretty Village, Pretty Flame by Srdjan Dragojević (1996) © Positif
Darko Bajic, author of both Crni bombarder (‘Black Bombarder’, 1992) and Balkanska pravila (‘Balkan Rules’, 1997), explained at the time of the filming of Rat uživo (‘War Live’, 2000), right after the 1999 NATO strikes in Belgrade, that he didn’t feel that hindsight was necessary in order to examine historic events, and that films must be made straight away. For him, historical hindsight carried political associations, and what truly interested him was the people and not the politics3. Another known Belgrade director, Srdjan Dragojević, admitted that when he made Lepa sela lepo gore (‘Pretty Village, Pretty Flame’, 1996) and Rane (‘The Wounds’, 1998) in the 1990s, whilst he didn’t dispose of the historical distance that these films needed, the need to make them was always far more important : “I had the urge to make these films, so I never thought of historical distance. Of course not. Especially for Pretty village... [Lepa sela lepo gore]. And it did hurt the film a lot, the lack of distance. Some of the reviews were bad because of that. Some of the festivals refused to screen the film because of that. In Venice they said it was a Fascist film, a Serbian Fascist film. But it was understandable, from today’s perspective. At the time, we were really mad.” 4 At the time, there were many reasons to fear that filmic representations of the war would present a black and white Manichean discourse of ‘good’ Serbs against ‘evil’ Croats or Muslims. However, this did not occur. In order to face reality, the Yugoslav cinema of this period made use of other genres, such as comedy and melodrama. Even when the war was more directly concerned, human tragedy always remained at the very centre. Many filmmakers embraced the 3 ARTE archives : http://archives.arte-tv.com/cinema/yougoslavie/ftext/menu.htm. 4 Discussion with the author. BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
thesis of the war as a Balkan curse and of the Balkans as a powder keg ready to explode every fifty years. This became the main position supported by Yugoslav filmmakers - the war was a tragedy for all involved, and the guilty parties were many: whether it be the political class, the war profiteers or simple fate.5 If we take the relationship to the reality of the 1990s as a classifying criterion, we can identify four main categories of Yugoslav productions made between 1991 and 2001: war films, escapism, historical dramas and urban films.
War films Strangely enough, and even though one would tend to associate Yugoslav cinema with images of war, very few films of this period spoke directly of the conflict. However, the war influenced Yugoslav films from the very beginning of hostilities : “Fiction came right after the true events. Vukovar’s fires were not yet extinguished and this baroque city on the shores of the Danube hadalready become the cinematographic symbol of endless destruction”.6 The Croatian war was the subject of Dezerter (‘The Deserter’, Živojin Pavlović, 1992), Kaži zašto me ostavi (‘Why Have You Left Me’, Oleg Novković, 1993) and Vukovar – jedna priča (‘Vukovar: The Way Home’, Boro Drašković, 1994). The latter was probably the one that received the greatest international attention. A Romeo and Juliet style love story set in the devastated city of Vukovar, the film was accused of being a piece of Serbian propaganda. Ironically, the film is told from the point of view of a Croatian, Ana (played by Mirjana Jokovic), who’s left alone in Vukovar when her husband Toma, a Serbian, is called to join the army and to attack his own home town. With Toma gone, the spectator witnesses this woman’s intense suffering, when she is savagely and repeatedly raped by Serbian mercenaries. This is a good example of the complexity of war movies at the time, certainly neither Manichean nor Serbian fascist propaganda. Draskovic’s perspective was double, just like that of the ordinary people of Belgrade. The Croatian war was also at the heart of the narrative in Budjenje proleca (‘Flashback’, Gordana Boškov, 1997), a kind of hybrid of a war film and an urban one. It spoke of the aftermath of war, of the incapacity to return to a normal life and the impossibility of leaving behind war memories, or forgetting those we’ve killed, those that are forever gone. The subject of the Bosnian war brought the most important film of the decade: Lepa sela lepo gore (‘Pretty Village, Pretty Flame’, Srdjan Dragojević, 1996). In his hospital bed, Milan (Dragan Bjelogrlić), a Bosnian Serb, recalls the ten hellish days he’s just spent with his regiment, blocked by the enemy (a group of Muslim paramilitaries) in a tunnel. Alongside his memories of the war itself, those of his childhood friendship with Muslim Halil (Nikola Pejaković) invade his 5 Dakovic N., “Pretty Village, Pretty Flames : Conflicting Identities”, in Ross K., Derman D. (dir.), Mapping the Margins, New Jersey, 2003a. 6 Dakovic N., “La guerre sur grand écran : filmographie de l’éclatement yougoslave”, Le Courrier des Balkans, www. balkans.eu.org, 2004. 66
thoughts. Milan and Halil used to play in that very same tunnel, the ‘Brotherhood and Unity’ tunnel meant for a highway that would never be built. In the 1990s they find themselves fighting on opposite sides, and discover that the friendship they believed to be unbreakable is easily overwhelmed by the absurdity and craziness of war. The Bosnian war was also the subject of Nož (‘The Dagger’, Miroslav Lekić, 1999), an adaptation from a novel by Vuk Drašković which was at the time the most expensive Serbian production in history. Nož is the epic story of Ilija Jugović, who was kidnapped by a Muslim family (the Osmans) when he was just a baby and renamed Alija. Alija/Ilija grows up unaware of his true identity, until the day he finds out that the Osmans are in fact an Islamised branch of the Jugović family. During the Bosnian war he meets his ‘brother’ who has been brought up in a strongly anti-Islamist environment. The films ends with the two of them wondering who they are and who they should hate, as the battle goes on around them. As we have seen, the number of Yugoslav films devoted to the ‘spectacular’ aspect of war was rather limited. When speaking of the different conflicts of the 1990s (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo), Yugoslav films preferred to focus on the war’s rear-guard, the city (usually Belgrade). The war such films evoke is a passive war, which is lived in between fear, misunderstanding and expectancy. Most of these films belong to what we have established as the ‘urban film’ category. With the 1999 bombings, the war came into the city and the ‘war film’ and ‘urban film’ categories began to overlap. However, as the 1999 war was always filmed passively, from the point of view of those who waited in fear rather than those who fought actively, we shall include the films related to the 1999 NATO strikes in the ‘urban film’ category.
Escapist films Escapist films are those which intend to remove the spectator from his everyday worries and to help him escape from the circumstances that surround him (particularly when these circumstances are difficult ones). The America of the Great Depression is a good example of a society where such films have flourished, as Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo illustrates. When discussing escapist films within the Yugoslav context of the 1990s, we don’t mean productions which made the miserable population dream of luxury and glamour, but simply entertaining films, which diverted attention away from the turmoil of the political scene. Escapist comedies proliferated during the 1990s : Policajac sa Petlovog Brda (‘The Policeman from Cock’s Hill’, Mihailo Vukobratović, 1992) ; Velika frka (‘The Big Mess’, Milan Jelić, 1992) ; Mi nismo andjeli (‘We Are Not Angels’, Srdjan Dragojević, 1992) ; Slatko od snova (‘Sweet Dreams’, Vladimir Živković, 1994) ; Bice bolje (‘Getting Better’, Milan Živković, 1994) ; Treca sreca (‘Lucky Three’, Dragoslav Lazić, 1995) ; Dovidjenja u Čikagu (‘Goodbye in Chicago’, Zoran Čalić, 1996) ; Tri palme za dve bitange i ribicu (‘Three Palms for Two Punks and a Babe’, Radivoje Andrić, 1998) and Munje (‘Thunderbirds’, Radivoje Andrić, 2001). Other escapist genres were also explored, such as the thriller in Točkovi (‘Wheels’, Djordje Milošavljević, 1998) and Tesna
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Koza 4 (‘Skin Tight 4’, Milan Živković, 1991), and science-fiction in Zbogom dvadeseti vek (‘Goodbye 20th Century’, Darko Mitrevski and Aleksandar Popovski, 1999). Of course, certain genre films not only intended to entertain but also hid an allegorical meaning. This was the case with Pun mesec nad Beogradom (‘Full Moon Over Belgrade’, Dragan Kresoja, 1993) ; Tri karte za Holivud (‘Three Tickets to Hollywood’, Božidar Nikolić, 1993) ; Jevreji dolaze (‘The Jews Are Coming’, Prvoslav Marić, 1992) ; Crni Bombarder (‘Black Bombarder’, Darko Bajić, 1992) ; Svemirci su krivi za sve (‘Aliens are to Be Blamed for Everything’, Zoran Čalić, 1991). Dragan Kresoja’s film was a vampire story set in Belgrade right at the beginning of the war. A fantasy film on the surface, it also contains a strong political subtext - the film’s vampires are very hard to tell from true humans, yet they are the ones who decide people’s destinies. Jevreji dolaze, Svemirci su krivi za sve and Tri karte za Holivud are comedies which may be read as parables of the great Balkan sins : ideological divisions, manipulation of the past, megalomania, myth-making, corruption, crime and lust for power. In the meantime, others refused to face the reality of the war, like Goran Paskaljevic. In spite of his strong political commitment, Paskaljevic did not feel ready to speak of the state of Serbian (and Yugoslav) society until 1998, when he delivered the brutally desperate Bure Baruta (‘Powder Keg’). Before this, he had produced two stories exemplary of his usual characteristic humanism: Tango argentino (1992) and Someone’s Else’s America (1996). Kusturica’s 1998 film Crna mačka beli mačor (‘Black Cat, White Cat’) also deserves a mention within this category, as it incorporated no references whatsoever to the history of the country or to any of the secession
Black Cat, White Cat by Emir Kusturica (1998) © Positif 68
wars. With this film Kusturica tried to counteract the effect of the controversy provoked earlier on by Underground (1995). Thus, “more than any other film made by Kusturica, this is a film out for laughs. He does not abandon his love of the absurd. This time, however, it is channelled more into the set design than into the narrative structure or the plot, both of which are highly traditional. Lasting a relatively long 130 minutes, the film sees Kusturica reign in his ego and create a tightly controlled film which is not going to upset anyone.”7
Historical films “From Underground to such films as Pretty Village, Pretty Flame, to Premeditated Murder (‘Ubistvo sa predumišljajem’ ; dir. Gorčin Stojanović, 1996) and Balkan Rules (‘Balkansa pravila’; dir. Darko Bajić, 1997), narratives try to rephrase and ‘correct’ the past, intending to provide new explanations for or make sense of the turbulent past.”8 Those films which have chosen to turn to the past in order to explain, or at least understand the present, have presupposed that the wars of the 1990s were a reincarnation of the unsolved conflicts and antagonisms of the past, for example those that divided the country during WWII. Unhealed wounds which had been buried under the ideals of brotherhood and unity, Socialism and self-management were reopened during the 1990s, unmasking Tito’s regime as a period of frustration and repression of national identities. For Igor Krstić, “the case of Yugoslavia raises the question of whether a society and its culture can become captured as an individual can by the burden of too much history”9. After WWII, the victorious communist government imposed peace among the different ethnic groups, forcing them to erase their war memories in favour of the official version on events. However, just like individuals, nations need to face up to their past and to understand what has happened before being able to forget and move on. Under communism, the atrocities of WWII became a taboo subject. The regime wanted the war to be remembered as a glorious Partisan fight against Fascism, and not as a bloody civil war. According to the anthropologist B. Denich : “Communist rule entailed ideological control over the representation of the past, and those horrible events that would disrupt the new inter-ethnic cooperation were not to be mentioned, except in the collective categories ‘victims of fascism’, on the one side, and ‘foreign occupiers and domestic traitors’, on the other side”10. During the 1990s, Yugoslav filmmakers felt a strong need to understand their recent past in order to be able to move on. Numerous films therefore focussed on the country’s Communist past : Originalna falsifikata (‘Original of the Forgery’, Dragan Kresoja, 1991); Mala (‘The Little One’, Pedrag Antonijević, 1991); Tito i ja (‘Tito And Me’, Goran Marković, 1992); Gorila se kupa u podne 7 Horton A. J. (dir.), The Celluloid Tinderbox. Yugoslav screen reflections of a turbulent decade, Central Europe Review (www. ce-review.org), 2000, p. 41. 8 Dakovic N., 2003b, p. 245. 9 Krstic I., “Re-thinking Serbia : A Psychoanalytic Reading of Modern Serbian History and Identity through Popular Culture”, Other Voices, vol. 2, nº 2 , March2002. 10 Quoted by Igor Krstić, March 2002. BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
(‘Gorilla Bathes At Noon’, Dušan Makavejev, 1993) ; Ubistvo s predumišljajem (‘Premeditated Murder’, Gorčin Stojanović, 1995) ; Underground (Emir Kusturica, 1995) ; Balkanska pravila (‘Balkan Rules’, Darko Bajić, 1997) ; Povratak lopova (‘Thiefs’ Comeback’, Miroslav Lekić, 1998) ; Nož (‘The Dagger’, Miroslav Lekić, 1999). This reinterpretation of the Titoist past was however not a phenomenon exclusive to the cinema of the 1990s. Already in the 1980s (after Tito’s death and the disappearance of Partisan films as a cult genre) critical filmmakers had begun to uncover the lies of the past by focussing their attention on the civil war years, the Stalinist post-war period and the years following Tito’s break-up with Kominform in 1948. Perhaps the best and most well known example from this period is Emir Kusturica’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner, Otac na službenom putu (‘When Father Was Away on Business’, 1985). But if in the 1980s what counted was the pursuit of truth, in the 1990s the aim of filmmakers was to identify the actual causes of the conflict… Some films of the 1990s chose to delve into an even more distant past, thereby confirming the thesis of Balkan fatality and historical conditioning. Examples include Virdžina (‘Virgina’, Srdjan Karanović, 1991), the last film to be made in the former Socialist Yugoslavia; Nečista krv (‘Whirlpool of Passion’, Stojan Stojčić, 1996); and Aleksandar Petrovic’s last work, filmed in the 1980s (originally intended as a TV series) and released as a feature in 1994, Seobe (‘Migrations’).
Urban films This category includes the immense majority of Yugoslav films produced between 1991 and 2001. Some are often regarded as war films - the conflict being always there, always present - but the fighting itself was rarely visible onscreen. These films presented a society in a state of crisis. Disorder, crime, immorality and violence took over everything and everyone. While the countryside was a battle-field, the cities in the rear-guard suffered the psychological and economic consequences of the conflict. Two films from 1998, Bure baruta (‘Powder Keg’, Goran Paskaljević) and Rane (‘The Wounds’, Srdjan Dragojević), were probably the best examples of the widespread insanity and malaise that reigned over the Belgrade of the 1990s. Other examples : Stand by (Čeda Veselinović, 1991) ; Noč u kuči moje majke (‘A Night at my Mother’s House’, Žarko Dragojević, 1991) ; Bulevar Revolucije (‘The Boulevard of Revolution’, Vladimir Blaževski, 1992) ; Dnevnik uvreda 1993 (‘Diary of Insults 1993’, Zdravko Šotra, 1994) ; Ni na nebu ni na zemlju (Miloš Radivojević, 1994) ; Marble Ass (Želimir Žilnik, 1994) ; Terasa na krovu (‘Terrace on the Roof ’, Gordan Mihić, 1995) ; Tamna je noc (‘Dark is the Night’, Dragan Kresoja, 1995) ; Ubistvo s predumišljajem (‘Premeditated Murder’, Gorčin Stojanović, 1995) ; Urnebesna tragedija (‘The Burlesque Tradedy’, Goran Marković, 1995) ; Tri letnja dana (‘Three Summer Days’, Mirjana Vukomanović, 1997); Tango je tužna misao koja se pleše (‘Tango is a Sad Thought to Be Danced’, Mladomir ‘Puriša’ Djordjević, 1997) ; Do koske (‘Rage’, Slobodan-
Boban Skerlić, 1997) ; Stršljen (‘The Hornet’, Gorčin Stojanović, 1998) ; Apsolutnih sto (‘Absolute Hundred’, Srdjan Golubović, 2001) ; Nataša (‘Natasha’, Ljubiša Samardžić, 2001) and Normalni ljudi (‘Normal People’, Oleg Novković, 2001). As previously mentioned, with the NATO strikes of 1999 a new subcategory was born, a hybrid of the war film and the urban film. Once more, cinematographic representations immediately followed real events, and the first film to be set in a bombed Belgrade appeared in that very same year : Ranjena zemlja (‘The Wounded Country’) by Dragoslav Lazić. Others followed in 2000 and 2001 : Zemlja istine, ljubavi i slobode (‘Land of Truth, Love and Freedom’, Milutin Petrović, 2000) ; Nebeska udica (‘Sky Hook’, Ljubiša Samardžić, 2000) ; Dorcol-Menhetn (‘Belgrade – Manhattan’, Isidora Bjelica, 2000) and Rat uživo (Darko Bajić, 2001). Nebeska Udica was probably the most successful of them all. With a cast of well-loved local celebrities (Nebojša Glogovac, Ana Sofrenovic, Nikola Kojo), it was the story of a group of friends in Belgrade’s suburbs trying to rebuild their basketball field, which had been seriously damaged by the NATO strikes. After ten years of war, what we find is a society which has reached its lowest point. A portrait of the 1990s generation, a lost generation living within an equally lost society : 30-year-old teenagers who still live with their parents, who have never had a real job and for whom survival is already an amazing accomplishment. By the year 2000, Nebojša Glogovac (Ubistvo s predumišljajem, Bure baruta ou Ranjena zemlja) had become, in the eyes of Yugoslav audiences, the true embodiment of this frustrated generation. He and his friends sum up the constant deterioration of their situation : ten years ago, they would spend their holidays in Croatia ; five years ago, they could still go to Greece ; the previous year they hadn’t been able to go anywhere, but at least they still had their basketball tournament. Now, they have nothing. They don’t even have any dreams left, and won’t until they decide to rebuild the basketball field. War is portrayed here through the fear, anxiety and expectancy of the characters. It is a passive war, practically unilateral (while the country was destroyed, Western forces were barely touched). The enemy is invisible and once again, the film doesn’t favour a Manichean perspective, but prefers to stand by the thesis of Balkan fatality. The Serbs are neither in the wrong nor in the right, but are simply condemned to tragedy. The only escape is exile (inevitably, this will always be the case in the Balkans), and thus Ana Sofrenović chooses a comfortable life in Italy over the true love of her husband. In 2000 Dina Iordanova wrote : “Wrapping up the decade, it is very likely that the year 2000 will mark the end of the series of films that dealt with the painful and traumatic Yugoslav break-up. The directors responsible for the most important of these films now seem to have switched not only to other geographical but also to other thematic discussions”11. Indeed, with Milosevic’s disappearance, and the apparent end of the cycle of struggles for independence in the region, it is only natural that Yugoslav films (now Serbian) should have begun to free themselves from the binds of the political reality. This was certainly the case for some of 11 Dina Iordanova in Horton A.J. (dir.), 2000, p. 14. BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
the films which were produced after the declaration of the new state of Serbia and Montenegro (now already dissolved) in 2003. For example, the characters in Skoro sasvim obična priča (‘An Almost Ordinary Story’, Miloš Petričić, 2003) ate cheeseburgers (not pljeskavicas), lived in an IKEA-decorated flat and talked about the Simpsons. Here, the atrocities and despair of the 1990s were clearly distant memories. Young filmmakers such as Srdjan Dragojević believed that cinema shouldn’t remain forever trapped in the political agenda of the 1990s : “Nobody accuses the makers of ‘Meet the Fockers’ of not mentioning George Bush and the intervention in Iraq. I don’t think that we have to be stuck forever in the political agenda of the nineties. I don’t think it’s an obligation. If you want to be political, you have a lot of legitimate subjects about the transition, its injustices, privatisation and so on. If you want to tell that kind of stories, it’s ok. But you cannot accuse those who make genre films of not being political. Sometimes the lack of politics is also a political statement. I feel I’ve said all I wanted, all I knew about that subject. Anything that would involve repeating these films [Wounds and Pretty Village] would be exploitation” [See footnote 4]. Others have continued to treat questions related to the 1990s - generally filmmakers from the previous generation : Emir Kusturica revisited the Bosnian conflict with Život je cudo (‘Life is a Miracle’) in 2004; Srdjan Karanovic devoted his comeback film, Sjaj u ocima (‘Loving Glances’, 2003), to a couple of war refugees in the Belgrade of the mid-nineties; Goran Markovic’s Kordon (‘The Cordon’, 2003) focused on the 1996-1997 student demonstrations. These examples are proof that the transition from Yugoslav to Serbian film has not been entirely accomplished, at least from a thematic point of view. Furthermore, as long as filmmakers from Yugoslav times are still active, it is very likely that the two cinemas will continue to coexist : the ‘Yugoslav’ cinema of the SFRY and the post-war Serbian cinema; the former staying trapped in the 1990s, and the latter tending to look in new directions. It is hard to determine what the Serbian cinema of the future will be like. The heir of Socialist Yugoslav cinema? The end result of new transnational and global logistics? Innately Serbian? Many factors will be extremely important: the evolution of Serbo-Montenegrean relations, including the proliferation of co-productions amongst the former republics, cinema’s global tendency towards standardisation, foreign investments in the region, the return of the Yugoslav Diaspora and the definitive healing of war wounds. Bibliography ARTE archives : http://archives.arte-tv.com/cinema/yougoslavie/ftext/menu.htm. “Semaine du Cinéma Yougoslave”, 23-27 octobre 1970, Théâtre du Parvis, Bruxelles. Dakovic N., “Pretty Village, Pretty Flames : Conflicting Identities”, in Ross K., Derman D. (dir.), Mapping the Margins, New Jersey, 2003a. Dakovic N., “Remembrance of the things past : Emir Kusturica’s Underground (1995)”, in Rings G., Morgan-Tamosunas R. (ed.), European Cinema: Inside Out, Universitatsverlag, Heidelberg, 2003b. Dakovic N., “La guerre sur grand écran : filmographie de l’éclatement yougoslave”, Le Courrier des Balkans, www.balkans.eu.org, 2004. Horton A. J. (dir.), The Celluloid Tinderbox. Yugoslav screen reflections of a turbulent decade, Central Europe Review (www. ce-review.org), 2000. Krstic I., “Re-thinking Serbia : A Psychoanalytic Reading on Modern Serbian History and Identity through Popular Culture”, Other Voices, vol. 2, nº 2, March 2002. 72
A Short History of Censorship in Kosovan Cinema1 Blerton Ajeti & Lulzim Hoti
If we are discussing Kosovan cinema and its history, it is inevitable that we first speak about it in Yugoslavian terms. Most of the films that were produced during the communist period suffered from heavy censorship. Kosovan cinema was in fact, for the most part, in the shadow of Belgradian ideology. It was only at the beginning of the 1980s that some of the most sophisticated artistic productions that have ever been made in the history of Kosovo cinema came to light. In order to trace the censorship from which Kosovan productions have suffered, we should start from the establishment of Kosovafilm; a body responsible for producing artistic films which was established in 1968. Although it was created as an independent body, it was closely controlled and directed by the communist policies of the time. Films that were made during this period were scrutinised, cut, and re-written to fit in with communist ideology. Up until the beginning of the 1980s, Kosovafilm produced films that nurtured and fed the idea of socialist realism, always avoiding dealing with human problems. As within most totalitarian systems, it was hard to escape control and censorship in film production. Most scripts were sabotaged with different motives. Many well-educated directors and screenwriters had to use various diversionary tactics to conceal the real substance of their films. This was usually done by submitting half-scripts; general ideas which did not include the most fundamental motives of the film. Nevertheless, after the films were shot, they suffered heavily in the editing room, resulting in up to 50 minutes of cut material for any one film. The cut negatives of these films were usually burnt. In the early 1980s, a new generation of directors and camera operators who had studied in various schools in the Balkans began to start something new. The first directors to herald a new cinematographic era in Kosovo were Agim Sopi, Isa Qosja and Ekrem Kryeziu. All of them faced censorship, as the examples of Man of Earth (Njeriu prej dheut) and The Guards of the Fog (Rojet e mjegulles) clearly demonstrate.
Man of Earth by Agim Sopi The first film ever to be banned and censored in the former Yugoslavia was Man of Earth, directed and co-written by Agim Sopi. The film was shot between 1984 and 1985. It portrays the fate of an Albanian family from Kosovo which is exiled to Turkey. The main character is expelled 1 This article was written based on real-life interviews conducted with directors Agim Sopi and Isa Qosja. The rest of the material is based on academic material published in the public media.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
from his country with no family and no friends. He is no more than a wandering ghost, looking desperately for a means to return to his country. The only way he can really return however, is through death. In order to obtain permission for production, a camouflaged screenplay was submitted. It was a vague idea with no reference to any specific time or place. It did not explain the substance of the film. The screenplay secured a production grant. When production began, the real screenplay was introduced, which infuriated the officials at the time. There was huge pressure to rewrite the screenplay. In order for production to continue, they requested a cut of more than 30% of the screenplay. The funding was also cut drastically, and production had to continue with a minimal budget. The production continued with huge problems. One of the fundamental problems that occurred during the shooting was on location. The government used various means to interfere. In one case, the police came to the location with a few peasants and made up a murder scene simply to stall production; shooting was delayed for two days. Many other attempts were made to threaten and stop the production. The crew and cast managed to finish shooting, and the film went into editing. Initially, the film was intended to be around two hours and thirty minutes long. The first censorship of the film resulted in 40 minutes being cut. The commission for reviewing the film met and ordered all of the important dramatic scenes to be cut out; any scenes depicting violence and the real motives behind the film were censored. All of the scenes which dealt with the reasons for the protagonistâ€™s departure from the country were cut out. The film had its premiere, but it can be debated that it was not entirely successful as a drama film.
Anatema by Agim Sopi (2006) ÂŠ AS Film Production 74
Nevertheless, it was very popular with the public, and still holds a record for audience numbers; 180 000 tickets were sold. The film was screened for just one day. The following day, a government order banned the film. Following this, a battle began to have all the crew and cast arrested, judicial procedures were opened and inlterrogations started. After a significant struggle, involving the intervention of Azem Shkreli (the Head of the Directorate in Prishtina at the time) and several foreign journalists, the cast and crew were released. After this the film gained an international reputation thanks to newspaper reports. The committee gathered once more to discuss its fate. They were ordered to cut a further 18 minutes from the film, and to shoot some new scenes that would promote the development of Kosovo. Naturally, the director Agim Sopi refused. The film was cut anyway, and re-released for public viewing. Negatives from all the cut scenes were burnt immediately. The Guards of the Fog by Isa Qosja The Guards of the Fog was shot between 1985 and 1986. The film addresses the issue of totalitarian systems in relation to the physical abuse of an artist in Kosovo. The protagonist is an Albanian writer, and thus the communist government requires knowledge of his aspirations and creative dreams. In the film, the writer is closely observed by government security forces (here we can see thematic similarities with the work of Kafka). The film was officially selected for the Pula Film Festival in Croatia, but after its initial screening a number of crusades began against the film. It was denounced as nationalistic, ideological, and separatist. After this screening many Serbian journalists, writers and artists felt concerned about the fact that Albanians were aware of these issues and oppressions. Amongst the newspaper headlines, there were also titles such as â€œThe Rise of the Demonsâ€?. This film showed Kosovan awareness of the past, and of what could happen in the future. Two opposing parties formed in relation to the film; Slovenian, Croatian and Kosovan artists supported the film, but Belgrade wanted to ban it unconditionally. After 20 days of screening in Kosovan cinemas, the film was banned, firstly in Prizren, and then in the rest of Kosovo never to be shown again. It was banned under the pretext that it inspired and supported the idea of Kosovo separating from Yugoslavia. There is a scene in the film where a male goat is standing beside a dead woman. The media called the male goat nationalist and separatist, an Albanian because the helmet of Skenderbeg also has the horns of the male goat. Similarly, the white clothes that the actors wore were identified as being Albanian, because of the traditional Albanian white costumes and hats. There is also a scene in which the writer sits on the beach in front of the sea writing letters. Serbian critics and journalists interpreted this as nostalgia for Albania, thus explaining why he was looking out to sea; they also speculated that the content of the letters was nostalgic. After the film was banned, there were protests in the streets of Prishtina. Politicians in Belgrade called this response an infusion of Albanian nationalism that had been inspired by the film. The film was never released again and the negatives are reportedly still in Belgrade. BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
During the minersâ€™ protests in Kosovo in 1989, Isa Qosja went inside a mine to shoot a documentary about the living conditions of the miners. He stayed underground for six days shooting footage of the minersâ€™ conditions; as soon as he re-emerged, he was approached by two security agents who asked him to follow them to an interrogation station. The footage was confiscated, and has never been returned. Qosja was held under arrest for two days. During this tumultuous time the government and all institutions were abolished in Kosovo, Kosovafilm was shut down, and all the projects from then on were closely monitored and controlled by the Serbian authorities. It can easily be said that since the beginning of the 1990s, no serious film project has been produced in the region. Even television projects were censored and often interrupted during shooting. This continued for a decade, until 1999 and the arrival of NATO troops. The national cinema at present enjoys democratic values and freedom of expression, and does not suffer from any form of censorship. Nevertheless, a lack of resources, mainly financial, means that Kosovan cinema still remains unproductive and poor in terms of quality.
Isa Qosja, KOSOVO
© Burbuque Berisha (2005)
Kukumi by Isa Qosja was the first full-length feature film from Kosovo since it was declared a UN-protected ‘mission’. It depicts the Kosovo of 1999, where Kukumi (Luan Jaha), Mara (Anisa Ismaili) and Hasan (Donat Qosja) are ‘liberated’ from the mental hospital - which has probably been their home for decades - when the political circumstances cause the guards to flee. The trio begin their journey together through a beautifully-shot landscape, but are soon divided by a conflict between Hasan and Kukumi. Hasan goes to see his brother with Mara, but the welcome they receive isn’t exactly a warm one... Kukumi, Hasan and Mara are alternately sources of childlike wonder, goofball oddity and even slapstick comedy, and it’s perhaps regrettable that there is more in the way of narration (by Kukumi) than actual spoken dialogue by the three. However on the whole Kukumi proceeds with sufficient tact, intelligence and sensitivity to ensure that viewers will probably give it the benefit of the doubt. After an intense, poetic opening that recalls the Tarkovsky of Andrei Rublev and Stalker, Kukumi gradually reveals itself as a low-key, slow-paced charmer which approaches the political circumstances of the time from a bemused, oblique angle. A very important film for Kosovo, and also for all Western-European citizens.
Alexander Richter 77
The Return to Grace of Turkish Cinema Matthieu Darras
Times and Winds by Reha Erdem (2006) ÂŠ Atlantik Film
Cannes Grand Prix winner in 2003 with Uzak, Nuri Bilge Ceylan has since then appeared as the most renowned Turkish director on the international level. However his films occupy a marginal economic position in the Turkish cinema industry. They have been â€“ and still are â€“ low-budget independent productions, seeking their funding from abroad. The author of Iklimler deliberately makes use of eccentricity financially speaking in order to ensure his artistic integrity. More generally, during the last five years, the success of Ceylan and fellow directors such as Demirkubuz, Ustaoglu and Arslan on the festival circuit has been merely a secondary phenomenon alongside the return to grace of the mainstream national cinema. Turkish cinema is, in fact, by no means lacking in financial resources. In any case at least, it now generates much more money than in it used to. In 2005, Turkish films constituted 7 of the top 10 domestic box office hits, and held a market share of close to 40%. That year also saw the
completion of 27 full-length Turkish film productions. Undeniably, the industry is performing better than it was before. However, this general good health has little impact on independent filmmakers. In fact it is evident that the growth in the number of productions, within the context of media integration, is not necessarily favourable to artistic innovation. Amongst the big box office successes, many are conceived by and for television channels, and this is all too often reflected in their aesthetic tendencies. One example of this trend, if an unusual one, is the controversial Valley of the Wolves: Iraq (Kurtlar Vadisi – Irak), an adaptation of a popular television series. With the biggest budget in the history of Turkish cinema, this melodrama/revenge-story set during the Iraq war was made according to the conventions of more down-market Hollywood fare. Using the weapons of the enemy for an anti-American pamphlet; now there’s something interesting... But should we be smiling about the fact that this film from Serdar Akar attracted an audience of over 5 million in 2006? There are, however, several better quality mainstream films. Sure, the comical stories of Kurdish actor Yilmaz Erdogan lack tautness, but they at least have the merit of being relevant to today’s society - such as Organize Isler - or of approaching the recent, troubled history of the country with the spirit of unity in mind - as in Vizontele Tuuba. This is no small thing for a nation which is always trying to bury the hatchet and accept its minorities (ethnic, political etc.) in all their diversity. The story of a librarian exiled to a village near Diyarbakir (which doesn’t have a library), Vizontele Tuuba depicts a community divided between innocuous revolutionaries on the one side and foolish supporters of the right on the other, on the eve of the military coup of 1980. In summary, a Pagnol-style Anatolian comedy. At the other end of the country, the same events overwhelm the lives of ordinary people, dividing even families. Political militant Sadik loses his wife the very same morning of the coup d’état, due to the roads and hospitals being completely deserted when she goes into labour. Seven years later, he returns to his parents’ home in the Agean countryside, notably to see his father, with whom relations have been distant ever since he refused to take over the family farm. Sadik wants to them to take his young son into their care, as he is struggling to bring him up alone. Presented at the festival of Istanbul in April 2006, My Father and My Son (Babam ve oğlum) is a highly effective melodrama which combines themes of intergenerational conflict and collective national memories of a tragic nature. Confident in his own work, Cağan, the director, challenged audiences not to cry when watching the film. Impossible, as the crescendo of emotional tension and the audience’s identification with the characters work both subtly and fully. Often turning to the past, mainstream cinema easily falls into nostalgic territory. Such is the case in the farcical Why were Hacivat and Karagöz Murdered? (Hacivat Karagöz Neden Öldürüldü?), a comical reflection on multiculturalism in Turkey which takes us all the way back to the 14th century, to a time when Bursa was the capital. Childhood memories of Anatolian directors’ native villages abound - and are often coloured by naïve fantasies, such as Boats out of Watermelon Rinds (Karpuz
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Kabu undan gemiler yapmak) by Ahmet Uluçay or The Waterfall (Sellale) by Semir Arslanyürek. Nevertheless, filmmakers do also make forays into contemporary urban life. For example, the narrative of the dramatic comedy Gönül Yarasi spans the parallel lives of three individuals in modern-day Istanbul, linked by the theme of violence against women. Şener Şen puts in an exemplary performance as a teacher who leaves his pupils for a priesthood in service of the Republic, but the film struggles to avoid the conventions of the genre. In addition - as always the past is never far away. Yavuz Turgul, like many of his fellow filmmakers, is particularly keen on the use of flashback techniques. Contrasting mainstream and auteur cinema does not always necessarily reveal a qualitative difference. Auteur cinema can be just as tedious when it falls into cliché. This is true for Angel’s Fall (Meleğin düşüşü), the second film from Semih Kaplanoğlu, which centres on a young woman working as a chambermaid, who has an irascible father. We feel all too intensely the intention of the director, who gives us a view of the body of a woman seeking to liberate herself from her constraints. The mechanism takes precedent over everything else. Despite the many masterful qualities of the film, the portrayal of Zeynep’s character is almost glacial, much too cold for us to become attached to her. In a different register, Two Girls (Iki Genç Kiz) is also a portrait of young women. Behiye and Handan seem to be opposites in every way: one is brunette, rebellious and yet fragile, the other blonde, superficial and sure of herself. As in The Dreamlife of Angels (La Vie Rêvée des Anges), the two adolescents share an obsessive friendship. Full of potential, and carried along by two brilliant comediennes, the third film from Kutluğ Ataman is a pleasure to watch, even if the story of personal growth experienced by the two young girls has an air of déjà vu about it. Without parallel on the other hand, Times and Winds (Bes Vakit) is the revelation of 2006. By using common ingredients of mainstream cinema (a village, children, etc.), Reha Erdem delivers an atmospheric film. A kind of auscultation and capturing of the pulse of a community through the interwoven viewpoints of three young adolescents. The camera, hypnotic, furrows its way through lanes, passing by walls and hills. It succeeds in expressing the unspeakable, whilst examining the relationship between human beings and the natural elements surrounding them. Given rhythm by the calls to prayer from the mosque and music from Arvo Pärt, Times and Winds treats with the same originality the question of religion, and how the love of parents for their children can become harmful. In 2007 a couple of not-to-be-missed Turkish films also came up: Takva from Yeni Sinemacilar, the story of a man living according to the teachings of medieval Islam; Kader, the latest film from Zeki Demirkubuz, which brings back the characters from Innocence (Masumiyet), produced in 1997; and last but not least, Fatih Akin’s Auf der Anderen Seite, which I intentionally include in this article since the Hamburg-born director accepted the Best Script Award at the Cannes film festival for his overwhelming melodrama… in the name of Turkish cinema!
Collective - Ümit Ünal, Kudret Sabanci, Selim Demirdelen, Yücel Yolcu and Õmũr Atay, turkey
Istanbul Tales Istanbul Tales is a film-poem. One of those movies that takes you by the hand and leads you through all the winding paths that a city as big and mythical as Istanbul contains. The story begins with a little voice, which tells us about the fascinating beauty of the place. Pages turn, like those of a book… We see a mosque and oriental roofs floodlit at sunset. The film then begins with the sound of a classical orchestra, and from that moment jumps from story to story, connected by several characters with very different lifestyles and concerns : a sullen clarinettist, a Mafioso, his girl, a dwarf, a young ‘chilled to the bone’ lover, a transvestite, a young emigrant, a schizophrenic beauty, her brother… and, at the end, a young lady and her little daughter. All of these characters are in turn linked together by the city itself, which is filled with diverse and yet complementary atmospheres.
© TMC (2005)
At last, the circle is completed, and the little girl closes the book she was reading. Only now do we realise that the entire film was a fairytale, an ode to the magnificence of Istanbul… Although Istanbul Tales is not exactly original, as a whole it forms an artistically and rhythmically masterful patchwork, which deserves attention and gives the spectator the immediate desire to take a plane to Istanbul.
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days ~ 4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile 47 10 Minutes 57 12:08 East of Bucharest ~ A fost sau n-a fost? 41-42, 45-46 15 43 A Night at My Mother’s House 70 A Wonderful Night in Split ~ Ta divna Splitska noc 53 Absolute Hundred ~ Apsolutnih sto 70 Afternoon of a Torturer (The) ~ Dupa-amiaza unui tortionar 43 Aliens are to be Blamed for everything ~ Svemirci su krivi za sve 68 Alone ~ Sami 52 Ambassadors Seek Country ~ Ambasadori, cautam patrie 40 An Almost Ordinary Story ~ Skoro sasvim obicna prica 72 An Unforgettable Summer ~ O vara de neuitat 23 And God Came Down to See Us ~ Posseteni ot gospoda 33 Angel’s Fall ~ Melegin düsüsü 80 Asphalt Tango ~ Asfalt tango 39 At Uncle Idriza’s ~ Kod Amidze Idriza 59 Auf der Anderen Seite 80 Balkan Rules ~ Balkanska pravila 65, 69-70 Beautiful People 57 Before the Rain ~ Pred dozhdot 23 Belgrade - Manhattan ~ Dorcol-Menhetn 71 Big Mess (The) ~ Velika frka 67 Black Bombarder ~ Crni bombarder 65, 68 Black Cat, White Cat ~ Crna mačka beli mačor 68-69 Bless You Prison ~ Binecuvântata fii, închisoare 43 Boats Out of Watermelon Rinds ~ Karpuz kabugundan gemiler yapmak 79-80 Border Post (The) ~ Karaula 53 Boulevard of Revolution (The) ~ Bulevar Revolucije 70 Burlesque Tragedy (The) ~ Urnebesna tragedija 70 California Dreamin’ 49 Cashier Wants to Go to the Seaside (The) ~ Blagajnica hoće ići na more 51 Cat People 14 Christmas Tree Upside Down 35 Climates ~ Iklimler 78 Conjugal Bed (The) 40 Cordon (The) ~ Kordon 72 Croatian Cathedrals ~ Hrvatske katedrale 51 Dagger (The) ~ Nož 67, 70
82 1° For ease of use, titles in this index have been listed first in English. Original titles are only provided when they are included in the texts themselves.
Dark is the Night ~ Tamna je noc Death of Mister Lazarescu (The) Deserter (The) ~ Dezerter Diary of Insults 1993 ~ Dnevnik uvreda 1993 Die Hard with a Vengeance Divorce from Love Do You Remember Dolly Bell? Dolce Farniente Dream Woman Dreamlife of Angels (The) ~ La vie rêvée des anges Duel E Pericolosi Sporgersi Esma’s Secret ~ Grbavica Eternity and a Day Fed-Up Fine Dead Girls ~ Fine mrtve djevojke Flashback ~ Budjenje proleca Full Moon Over Belgrade ~ Pun mesec nad Beogradom Fuse ~ Gori vatra Gemide Getting Better ~ Bice bolje Giorgi and the Butterflies Go West Golden Years ~ Zlatne godine Gönül Yarasi Goodbye 20th Century Goodbye in Chicago ~ Dovidjenja u Čikagu Gorilla Bathes at Noon ~ Gorila se kupa u podne Great Communist Bank Robbery (The) Guards of the Fog (The) Happy End Here ~ Tu Hop, Skip, Jump Hornet (The) ~ Stršljen Horseman ~ Konjanik How the War Started on my Island ~ Kako je počeo rat na mom otoku I Love You ~ Volim te Innocence ~ Masumiyet Investigation Istanbul Tales
70 40-41, 44 66 70 14 39 55 39 43 80 40 39 61 27, 29-30 40 53 66 68 58 79 67 37 59-60, 62 51 80 68 67 69, 70 43 73, 75-76 43 53 57 70 53 51 53 80 35 81
Italian Girls Jews are Coming (The) ~ Jevreji dolaze Joint Kadar Kika King of the Marshes (The) Kukumi Lady Zee Land of Truth, Love and Freedom ~ Zemlja istine, ljubavi i slobode Letter to America Life is a Miracle ~ Život je cudo Little One (The) ~ Mala Long Dark Night ~ Duga mračna no Love Sick Loving Glances ~ Sjaj u ocima Lucky Three ~ Treca sreca Luxury Hotel Man of Earth ~ Njeriu prej dheut Man, God, Monster Marble Ass Marshal Tito’s Spirit ~ Maršal Migrations ~ Seobe Mila from Mars Milky Way ~ Mlijecni put Mondo Bobo Monkeys in Winter Mosquito Problem and Other Stories (The) Mum’n’Dad ~ Mama I Tata My Father and My Son ~ Babam ve oğlum Nafaka-Luck ~ Nafaka Natasha Nervous System (The) Ni na nebu ni na zemlju Niki and Flo No Man’s Land No One Lives Here Anymore Normal People ~ Normalni ljudi Oak (The) Occident Organize Isler Orient Express
43 68 40 80 14 39 77 34 71 33 72 69 53 41 72 67 39 73 55 70 51 70 17 57 52 35 37 61 79 61 70 40 70 43 21, 57-58 39 70-71 39 40 79 43
Original of the Forgery ~ Originalna falsifikata 69 Our Lady ~ Gospa 51 Păcală Returns 43 Paper Will Be Blue (The) 41, 43 Peacemaker (The) 14 Perfect Circle ~ Savrseni Krug 55 Philanthropy 17,40 Policeman from Cock’s Hill (The) ~ Policajac sa Petlovog Brda 67 Powder Keg ~ Bure Baruta 68,70 Premeditated Murder ~ Ubistvo sa predumišljajem 69,70 Pretty Village, Pretty Flame ~ Lepa sela lepo gore 20, 22, 65-66, 69,72 Purple Rose of Cairo (The) 67 Rage ~ Do koske 70, 71 Rashomon 40 Rat Uživo 65, 71 Red Rats 39 Remake 58 Savior (The) 19 Second Fall of Constantinople (The) 39 Second Hand 43 Sex, Booze and Short Fuse ~ Sex, piće i krvoproliće 53 Skies Above the Landscape ~ Nebo iznad krajolika 61 Skin Tight 4 ~ Tesna Koza 4 68 Sky Hook ~ Nebeska udica 71 Sleep of the Island (The) 39 Small Island (The) 33 Snail’s Senator (The) 40 Someone Else’s America 68 Sorry for Kung Fu ~ Oprosti za kung fu 53 Stand By 70 Stone Cross (The) 39 Story from Croatia (The) ~ Priča iz Hrvatske 51 Stuff and Dough 39-40 Summer in the Golden Valley ~ Ljeto u Zlatnoj Dolini 58 Suspended Step of the Stork (The) 27-29 Sweet Dreams ~ Slatko od snova 67 Takva 80 Tango Argentino 68 Tango is a Sad Thought to be Danced ~ Tango je tužna misao koja se pleše 70 Tank (The) 43 Terente 39
Terrace on the Roof ~ Terasa na krovu 70 Tertium non datur 43 The Sky, the Satellites ~ Nebo, sateliti 52 Thief ’s Comeback 70 Three Men of Melita Žganjer ~ Tri muškarca Melite Žganjer Žganjer 51 Three Palms for Two Punks and a Babe ~ Tri palme za dve bitange i ribicu 67 Three Summer Days ~ Tri letnja dana 70 Three Tickets to Hollywood ~ Tri karte za Holivud 68 Thunderbirds ~ Munje 67 Times and Winds ~ Bes Vakit 80 Tito and Me ~ Tito i ja 69 Too Late 39 Tunnel ~ Tunel 57 Two Girls ~ Iki Genç Kiz 80 Ulysses’ Gaze 22, 27-28 Underground 69,70 Uzak 78 Valley of the Wolves: Iraq ~ Kurtlar Vadisi – Irak 79 Virgina ~ Virdžina 70 Vizontele Tuuba 79 Vukovar: The Way Home ~ Vukovar se vraća kući 51, 66 War Live ~ Rat uživo 65 Washed Out ~ Isprani 51 Waterfall (The) ~ Sellale 80 Way I Spent the End of the World (The) 41-43 We Are Not Angels ~ Mi nismo andjeli 67 Well Tuned Corpses ~ Dobra dustman privacy 59-60 What a Happy World 39 st What Iva Recorded on October 21 , 2003? ~ Što je Iva snimila 21. listopada 2003. 53 What’s a Man Without a Moustache? Što je muškarac bez brkova? 53 Wheels ~ Točkovi 67 When Father was Away on Business 55, 70 Whirlpool of Passion ~ Nečista krv 70 Who Is Right? 39 Whose is this Song? 36 Why Have You Left Me ~ Kaži zašto me ostavi 66 Why were Hacivat and Karagōz Murdered? Hacivat Karagöz Neden Öldürüldü? 79 Witnesses ~ Svjedoci 53 Wounded Country ~ Ranjena zemlja 71 Wounds ~ Rane 22,65, 70 86 Zorba the Greek 14,20
Serdar Akar Fatih Akin Woody Allen Pedro Almodovar Milena Andonova Radivoje Andrić Theo Angelopoulos Pedrag Antonijević Yilmaz Arslan Semir Arslanyürek Kutluğ Ataman Õmũr Atay Ante Babaja Darko Bajić Zvonimir Berković Isidora Bjelica Andrei Blaier Vladimir Blaževski Gordana Boškov Vinko Brešan Detlev Buck Michael Cacoyannis Cağan Irmak Zoran Čalić Nae Caranfil Nuri Bilge Ceylan Ivan Cherkelov Liviu Ciulei Florin Codre Mircea Daneliuc Selim Demirdelen Zeki Demirkubuz Georgi Deulgerov Jasmin Dizdar Mladomir Djordjević Nenad Djurić Srdjan Dragojević Boro Drašković Bogdan Dumitrescu
79 80 67 14 35 67 14-15, 23, 27-30 69 78 80 80 81 51 65, 68-71 51 71 39 70 66 51, 53 25 14 79 67-68 17, 39-40 78 35 38 39 39, 40 81 78, 80 34 57 70 61 20, 65-67, 70,72 66 39
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS
Jasmin Duraković Andrei Enache Reha Erdem Yilmaz Erdogan Benjamin Filipović Miloš Forman Alexey Gherman Tudor Giurgiu Srdjan Golubović Rajko Grlić Napoleon Helmis Hrvoje Hribar Ahmed Imamović Szabó István Branko Ivanda Milan Jelić Vasil Jivko Zvonimir Jurić Semih Kaplanoğlu Srdjan Karanović Ademir Kenović Krzytszof Kieślowsky Fatmir Koci Srdan Koljević Dragan Kresoja Ekrem Kryeziu Akira Kurosawa Emir Kusturica 21, 25, 38, 55, 64, 68-70, 72 Dragoslav Lazić Mimi Leder Miroslav Lekić Faruk Loncarević Pavel Loungine Dušan Makavejev Yanaki and Milton Manakia Milcho Manchevski Nicolae Mărgineanu Prvoslav Marić
61 43 80 79 59, 60 38 25 38, 41 70 53 43 53 57, 59, 62 38 53 67 35 53 80 72 55-56,58 38 25 25 68-70 73 40 14, 22, 67, 71 14 67, 70 61 25 15, 20, 70 28, 29 14, 22-23 39, 40, 43 68 87
Goran Marković Dalibor Matanić Boris Matić John McTiernan Jiři Menzel Radu Mihăileanu Gordan Mihić Jancsó Miklós Djordje Milošavljević Darko Mitrevski Cătălin Mitulescu Cristian Mungiu Radu Muntean Mircea Mureşan Dino Mustfic Cristian Nemescu Sergiu Nicolaescu Božidar Nikolić Lukas Nola Oleg Novković Antonio Nuić Zrinko Ogresta Arsen Ostojić Krsto Papić Goran Paskaljević Andrey Paunov Živojin Pavlović Adela Peeva Gothár Péter Miloš Petričić Aleksandar Petrovic Milutin Petrović Lucian Pintilie Dan Pita Aleksandar Popovski Corneliu Porumboiu Radu Potcoavă Cristi Puiu Isa Qosja Tomislav Radić
69-70, 72 51, 53 53 14 38 39 70 25 67 68 38, 41-42 38, 40, 47 38, 40-41 39 58 49 38-40, 43 68 51, 52 66, 71 53 51, 53 53 51 38, 68, 70 37 66 36 38 71 70 72 22, 25, 38-39, 43 39, 40, 43 68 38, 41-42, 45-46 43 38-42, 44 73, 75-77 53
Miloš Radivojević Goran Rušinović Kudret Sabanci Geo Saizescu Ljubiša Samardžić Jakov Sedlar Abdulah Sidran Yeni Sinemacilar Slobodan-Boban Skerlić Jerzy Skolimowski Zornitsa Sophia Faruk Sokolovic Alexandru Solomon Agim Sopi Omer Faruk Sorak Zdravko Šotra Gorčin Stojanović Ognjen Sviličić Danis Tanovic Alexandru Tatos Jacques Tourneur Snježana Tribuson Iglika Trifonova Ümit Ünal Ahmet Ulucay Malvina Urşianu Yesim Ustaoglu Rangel Valchanov Mircea Veroiu Čeda Veselinović Antun Vrdoljak Mihailo Vukobratović Mirjana Vukomanović Srdjan Vuletić Yavuz Yurgul Pjer Zalica Jasmila Zbanić Želimir Žilnik Vladmir Zivković Davor Žmegač
70 52 81 43 70-71 51 55 80 70-71 38 17, 25 57 43 73-75 79 70 69-70 53 21, 57-58 39 14 51 35 81 80 39 78 33 39 70 53 67 70 57-58 80 58-59 61 70 67-68 51
With the support of
CounCiL� oF eurOPE�
ConSeiL� de L'eurOPE�
CONTACT US NISI MASA (European Office) 10, rue de l’Echiquier 75010 Paris - France Phone: +33 (0)1 53 34 62 78 Mobile: +33 (0)6 32 61 70 26 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.nisimasa.com Art Group Haide Sofia 1680, PK 197 Bulgaria Phone: +359 88 75 46 264 Email: email@example.com
BALKAN IDENTITIES, BALKAN CINEMAS Printed in Italy - March 2008 © All rights reserved
ISBN: 978-2-9531642-0-6 March 2008 www.nisimasa.com
NISI MASA - the European Network of Young Cinema, publishes a book about contemporary Balkan cinema (2008)