Let’s go to the movies! Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav cinema is a port window projecting the region’s cultures and history. From Gibanica to Kraut Westerns, from Black Wave to Prague School, and from films of remembrance to war movies, this is seventy years of cinematic history in a single arc.

With Dijana Jelača and Sanjin Pejković.

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Episode Transcript

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[JINGLE]

PETER KORCHNAK: This is Remembering Yugoslavia, the show exploring the memory of a country that no longer exists. I’m your usher Peter Korchnak.

It was a film that got me on the path to Yugoslavia.

[SOUNDBITE]

A quarter century ago now, I saw Emir Kusturica’s Underground at a cinema club in Bratislava, where I was going to university. And the history the film told, well, I just had to learn more, and—here we are.

Similar to music, Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav film has been an eye-opening window into the region’s cultures and history. And to the cinema is where we’re going to go in today’s episode.

But before we do that, I want to acknowledge a few new supporters of these here travels through Yugoslavia’s memory. Thank you Georgia, Jacob, Ksenija, Leila, Matej, and Sean for your donations. You keep the film projector running—and I appreciate you more than I can say.

Have you got your ticket to the cinematic epic of Remembering Yugoslavia? If the podcast has made your life better in any way, consider joining Georgia, Jacob, Ksenija, Leila, Matej, Sean, and many others in helping to keep the show running (this is Episode 72, by the way). Even YouTube isn’t free, if you think about it.

No matter the amount or currency, ten dollars per month or a hundred euros one time, no matter the method, Patreon, Paypal, or a subscription—every little bit helps. Go to RememberingYugoslavia.com/Donate or follow the link in the episode description in your podcast listening app, and donate today.

[SOUNDBITE – “Epic Cinematic” by Scott Holmes Music]

PETER KORCHNAK: The history of Yugoslav film began already during World War Two, as the communists, well-trained in the Soviet propaganda model, knew film’s potential in mobilizing the masses for their revolutionary goals. In late 1944, the Yugoslav People’s Liberation Army established a film section within their Propaganda Division as well as a federal film company.

Yugoslavia was utterly devastated in the war and so initially they mostly imported Soviet feature and documentary films, which they showed along their own newsreels to the masses in mobile cinemas. Between 1945 and 1950, 80 percent of imported films were Made in the USSR.

[SOUNDBITE]

The first Yugoslav films were documentaries, which started coming out as early as 1945; the first domestic feature film, Slavica by Vjeko Afrić, premiered in 1947.

Further features followed in short order, all with propaganda-serving storylines about the just concluded, gloriously victorious People’s Liberation Struggle. The masses ate them up.

Film, which Lenin had proclaimed “the most important art,” was not only an ideological but also a unifying medium in Yugoslavia.

The Yugoslavs were also concerned with creating an infrastructure for film production; a film archive, a film school, and republic-based film companies were established, like Triglav Film in Ljubljana, Jadran Film in Zagreb, Bosna Film in Sarajevo, Vardar Film in Skopje, and Avala and Zvezda Film in Belgrade, where the film studio Košutnjak was also built.

The propaganda phase of Yugoslav cinematography ended after the split with the Soviet Union. Beginning at the turn of the 1950s, Yugoslavia launched the development of its own, independent national film industry. Western films, mostly from the US but also from Western Europe, made their way to Yugoslav silver screens as well and in fact after 1950 dominated the market.

As years went by and the popular memory of the homegrown revolution and liberation receded in time, the regime promoted its identity, built around the narratives of the People’s Liberation Struggle and brotherhood and unity, through popular culture, including film.

Cue Partisan movies, in which the wartime Yugoslav People’s Army vanquishes the occupying Nazi Germans, often in spectacular fashion. Andrew Horton called Partisan films “an instructive example of filmmakers generating a national identity and ‘history’ through the medium of cinema.”

Partisan film became a central element of Yugoslav cinematography, particularly in the 1960s and 70s (this is of course the period where we saw the most intensive construction of monuments, to the same ends). Of the 890 films made in Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1990, 350, or nearly 40 percent, were war or Partisan films.

And they were the best produced and promoted and most spectacular and seen.

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[SOUNDBITE]

A lot of these films, especially about the most epic and legendary battles, were coproduced with Hollywood and featured American and other Western actors, including Yul Brynner, Kurt Juergens, and Franco Nero in Veljko Bulajić’s Battle of the River Neretva from 1969, the most expensive film produced in Yugoslavia; Richard Burton played Tito wearing his original jacket in Stipe Delić’s Battle of Sutjeska, or the Fifth Offensive, in 1973. Orson Welles, who called Tito the greatest man in the world, starred in both of these blockbusters.

Pablo Picasso made one of the posters for the former movie. The late Greek composer, Mikis Teodorakis, scored a lot of these films that emulated American filmmaking practices, with their focus on heroism, spectacular action, and simplistic fight of good and evil.

These so-called Gibanica Westerns thus ceased to be strictly Yugoslav films for Yugoslav audiences and served instead as education as well as propaganda tools for foreign audiences.

Tito who watched on average one film a day, with Western as his favorite genre, loved to hobnob with global film stars, both in Yugoslavia and on his visits abroad.

The 1972 epic Valter Defends Sarajevo fictionalized and immemoralized the wartime activities of the local fighter Valter Perić. It’s a classic that has become one of the most popular Yugoslav movies of all time, featuring one of the most referenced lines of all time (quoting films is a popular Balkan pastime, so this is a big deal).

[SOUNDBITE]

The production of Partisan films declined in the late 1970s and they met their final demise after Tito died.

[SOUNDBITE]

In Czechoslovakia, we had our own war movies and our own ideology based on liberation by the Red Army, so Gibanica Westerns didn’t make it there.

What did make it to our silver and later TV screens, were Kraut Westerns. The movies featuring Winnetou, Chief of the Apaches, were coproductions of Jadran Film with German companies that adapted the novels by Karl May featuring the so-called Red Gentleman. These precursors to Spaghetti Westerns were shot in the 1960s in today’s Croatia, in Paklenica as well as Krka, Velebit, Zrmanja, and so on. Many Yugoslav actors were cast, a lot of them as Native Americans and other extras.

Winnetou from 1963, released in the West as Apache Gold, was the second most attended film in Czechoslovakia’s cinemas of all time. My favorite, though, was The Treasure of Silver Lake, the first in the series, filmed at Plitvice Lakes.

Like all pale-faced boys in Czechoslovakia I grew up with Winnetou, played by the Frenchman Pierre Brice and dubbed by Stanislav Fišer, and his German friend Old Shatterhand, played by the American Lex Barker. And I really really wanted to go to the places where the films were shot. With Winnetou, Yugoslavia also became a mountain paradise that was the Wild West of my imagination. I rode across the plains of Texas Lika, scaled the craggy hills of New Mexico Dalmatia, canoed down the Rios of impossible blue-green—in search of adventure, truth, and the common good.

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[SOUNDBITE]

DIJANA JELAČA: I am Dijana Jelača. I hail from Yugoslavia. I identify as a Yugoslav.

PETER KORCHNAK: Jelača is a film studies scholar from Zagreb via Banja Luka, now based in New York City where she teaches at Brooklyn College.

DIJANA JELAČA: Among other things, I study Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav cinema and feminist film studies, women’s film history.

PETER KORCHNAK: Yugoslav film, in fact film in general, as a cultural sphere is dominated by men. Most texts out there, from Wikipedia on down, list and discuss male directors. If you asked me before this episode to name movie directors from the Yugoslav era, I’d start with Emir Kusturica, of course, and think of a few more, Rajko Grlić, Dušan Makavejev, Goran Paskaljević…

Women in Yugoslav Cinema

But what about women in Yugoslav cinema?

DIJANA JELAČA: Women most typically or most frequently appear in front of the camera, as actresses, that was the job that was most available, most prominent. Yugoslav cinema is not an outlier in that sense.

PETER KORCHNAK: That first Yugoslav movie, Slavica, was rare in that it featured a female lead. Partisan films did include female characters in recognition of women’s role in the war, including as combatants.

However, after gender equality was officially accomplished, women in films made in Yugoslavia increasingly reverted to the traditional roles. In the familial context, we see a grandmother, mother, sister, wife or girlfriend, balanced in the societal context with a housewife, worker, generally a member of the working class, but also a consumer and sex object, often gaining agency only in relation to a male character

DIJANA JELAČA: But as usual, the story is always a bit more complicated than that.

While they were in the minority, women were present behind the camera too, as editors, screenwriters, costume designers, a number of different jobs, including directors. So this is the part that is not historicized as much, written into film history books or textbooks, the few that there are with regards to Yugoslavia cinema.

PETER KORCHNAK: Štefica Cvek u Rajlama Života (Štefica Cvek in the Jaws of Life), a 1984 film by Rajko Grlić based on the eponymous novel by the late Dubravka Ugrešić, stars a female TV editor working on a series about the titular character, with their love lives unfolding in parallel. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

There were indeed woman film and television directors in Yugoslavia. In her work Jelača highlights one in particular, Sofia “Soja” Jovanović—

DIJANA JELAČA: —the first woman feature film director in socialist Yugoslavia. She started out as a theater director, and then graduated or moved slowly into film directing, under the mentorship of Slavko Borkapić.

So she made her first feature film in 1954, which was a time where Yugoslav cinema was still in its nascent phase, and that was a film called Suspect Individual, based on a play by Branislav Mušić, a satirical play. Very interestingly, the film starts out as a theatrical play on stage and then the characters get off the stage and move into the film world. So she kind of shows her own movement from theatrical direction into cinema.

[SOUNDBITE]

She follows this up with a very popular film Priests Ćira and Spira in 1957, and additional adaptations of well known literature like Dr., short for doctor, or Eagles Fly Early, which is based on the novel of Branko Čopić in 1966.

PETER KORCHNAK: In the opening scene of Pop Ćira i Pop Spira—that is Orthodox priests—we see a windmill centering a farm on a lake. Then two black pigs cross the field…and that pretty much sums up the message.

DIJANA JELAČA: All of her films are extremely popular with the audiences, most of them are comedies. So this is the kind of paradox: while Soja Jovanović is not historicized as much as she should be, in my opinion, she was and perhaps to this day for people who remember or know Yugoslav culture is a household name. Her films were extremely well known and popular, not necessarily critically acclaimed as comedies tend to be in film studies and film scholarship and more generally film criticism taken as lighter fare. If we take that as being sort of the typical way that culture is received, comedy is always on the lower end, sort of more middlebrow or lowbrow aspects of scale of things. And I think this is one of the reasons why her work hasn’t been given prominence in the historical writing on Yugoslav cinema.

And I think it’s unfair, because through comedy, especially satire, which she was very invested in, you can probe many important social issues in subversive ways. It has been noted by some historians that her work appears light hearted but nevertheless has this sort of slightly critical streak. There is a level of cynicism there that permeates the work. And interestingly, in the 1960s, late 1960s, moving into 1970s at the height of the Yugoslav Black Wave, which is probably the most famous period of Yugoslav cinema, most studied and most celebrated, Soja Jovanović moves more into work in television.

PETER KORCHNAK: More about Black Wave in a little bit.

DIJANA JELAČA: So she evolves and goes into television and talks about television as being an avenue that actually gave her more opportunity, and in some ways more freedom.

Many scholars have pointed out that, historically speaking, women have found more venues and more freedom in working in television, because again, [the] stakes are lower in a way television. If we again talk about the scales of elitism versus the more approachable, popular art and cultural production, television is more accessible, and not considered as elite, so there’s less gatekeeping, if you will.

So Soja Jovanović spends the rest of her directorial life working in television, producing television series and TV dramas, in particular TV comedies, usually, staying true to her tradition.

Two of her TV dramas slash comedies that I particularly find very illuminating are, Australia is Far Away from 1969, and We Apologize, We Truly Apologize from 1976. Both of those are focused on working class milieu and women’s experiences.

[SOUNDBITE]

PETER KORCHNAK: In We Apologize, We Truly Apologize, a teacher who seems vaguely dissatisfied with her lot, succumbs to the advances of a persistent farmer as they travel through Serbia. The soundtrack includes the Bjelo Dugme song “Tako Ti Je Mala Moja Kad Ljubi Bosanac,” (This Is How It Is When a Bosnian Man Kisses). The popular film was once voted as the best TV comedy and one of ten best dramas in the history of Serbian television.

DIJANA JELAČA: This is something that Soja Jovanović actually deals with time and again, both in her films and then later in her TV dramas. And the TV dramas increasingly become disillusioned with the position specifically of a working class woman or a working class person’s experience, sort of the feeling that the working class person is increasingly getting left behind. So we see some criticism there that is not otherwise necessarily overtly articulated.

PETER KORCHNAK: Though Jovanović did not otherwise make a huge mark cinematically—

DIJANA JELAČA: —I would argue that she has created a legacy that has only served to become a platform for all the women behind the camera who have come after her, both in film and in television. She opened doors, she showed that it was possible for women not only to exist, but to thrive in this particular medium.

PETER KORCHNAK: Woman directors were absent in the other well-known genre of Yugoslav film, the Black Wave. Primarily known as New Yugoslav Film, Black Wave was quote “a central event in Yugoslav cinematic history.”

This cinematic movement at the polar opposite of Partisan films lasted about a decade, from 1963 to 1973, and was marked with filmmakers charting a new course for Yugoslav film: one marked with neorealism, experimental cinematic approaches like montage, and, perhaps more importantly, political critique and subversion. Where the mainstream depicted heroic Partisan battles forging the new socialist man, New Yugoslav Film featured people from society’s margins like the unemployed, the homeless, criminals, prostitutes, beggars, smugglers, poor peasants, as well as socialist citizens acting as dissatisfied, estranged, even loser anti-heroes.

“Black Wave” was actually a derogatory term a communist party official used to describe these films in a newspaper article. The quote, “distorted portrayal of the socialist Yugoslav society that negates its positives” earned some of the filmmakers prison terms and bans on their works.

DIJANA JELAČA: Many of the directors of the New Yugoslav Film or Black Wave came out of the cineclubs, kino klubovi. Amateur filmmaking started by making short films and then eventually some of them graduated into making feature-length films, forming the celebrated particular film movement, shown internationally and lauded internationally and just really incredible period, creatively speaking, for Yugoslav cinema.

There were women who were members of the cineclubs, we know that as well, and they made short experimental films, but none of them, quote unquote, graduated into making feature length films during this period. I can mention Dina Jovanović or Tatjana Ivančić, Tatjana Dunja Ivanišević, Bojana Vujanović, Erna Banovac, just to name a few who we have records of their experimental short film work, which is incredible.

And Tatjana Dunja Ivanišević, by the way, is often credited for making one of the first experimental feminist films in socialist Yugoslavia, in 1967, the film called Žemsko, which roughly translates into female, it’s sort of a slang term. And she actually spoke about what made her stop making additional movies after this. She was apparently discouraged by her male colleagues in the cineclub that she was a member of. And there was a quote from her, I am paraphrasing, where she said, “Even though they were wonderful and very friendly, I got a distinct sense that my male fellow filmmakers in the film club preferred for me to be in front of the camera rather than behind the camera.” So that was discouraging and she stopped.

This may or may not be indicative of the broader reason why women didn’t move into feature filmmaking in this particular period.

PETER KORCHNAK: The other acclaimed movement in Yugoslav cinema was the output of the Zagreb School of Animation, which earned Yugoslavia an Oscar, in 1961 for Surogat (The Substitute) by Dušan Vukotić, the first non-American animated film to accomplish this.

[SOUNDBITE]

Established in 1972, the World Festival of Animated Films, or Animafest, still takes place in Zagreb.

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[SOUNDBITE]

PETER KORCHNAK: By the 1980s, Yugoslavia was a near confederation of republics each with its own economy. Each republic already had its own film production company of course, and then the decentralization stemming from the 1974 constitution combined with the loosening of discourse after Tito’s death allow new, previously taboo themes to appear in movies made in Yugoslavia, from more overt critique of the socialist regime to ethnicity, national myths, and religion. Check out Episode 36, “Dream of the Yugoslav 80s,” for more on this period in Yugoslavia’s cultural history.

The so-called Prague School, which included directors educated in my former homeland’s capital, rose to prominence. Its most notable success came in 1985 when Emir Kusturica won his first Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Otac na službenom putu (When Father Was Away on Business). The film’s title is a euphemism for the father being interned at Goli Otok perhaps. The aforementioned Rajko Grlić and Goran Paskaljević as well as Goran Marković were also in this group, and, like Kusturica, continued making movies after Yugoslavia’s disintegration.

[SOUNDBITE]

Some of the most popular, and again most oft quoted, Yugoslav films were made in the 1980s. Slobodan Šijan made two of the best known ones in the cannon. In Ko to tamo peva (Who’s That Singing Over There), from 1981, a group of people representing a cross-section of Serbian society, as well as some piglets, travel by bus to Belgrade on the eve of Nazi Germany’s invasion. The film is framed by the song Za Beograd (To Belgrade) performed by a duo of Romani musicians. It was voted the best Yugoslav film of all time and remains a classic.

Maratonci trče počasni krug (The Marathon Family), a classic comedy from 1982, follows a multigenerational family of undertakers in the 1930s.

DIJANA JELAČA: What happens after the disintegration of Yugoslavia is that the industry, Yugoslav film industry splinters into separate national, nationalized film industries.

PETER KORCHNAK: —thus completing the process that had started decades before.

Dijana Jelača is also the author of the book, Dislocated Screen Memory: Narrating Trauma in Post-Yugoslav Cinema, which came out in 2016.


DIJANA JELAČA: And there is this sort of, I sometimes referred to it, as a custody fight with regards to the Yugoslav film legacy, where some people driven by nationalist passions are adamant to reappropriate the legacy that is decidedly Yugoslav and transethnic into separate pure ethnonationalist units. Therefore, Croatian cinema during the Yugoslav period or Serbian cinema during Yugoslav period when in fact, if you look at those productions, at those films, they’re so intermixed and so Yugoslav that how do you actually decide what’s Croatian, what’s Serbian, what’s Bosnian or Macedonian, etc within that. So it’s all strange.

PETER KORCHNAK: We see a lot of historical films, with pre-World War II storylines from national histories; Serbian cinematography in particular seems to be replete with these. And there’s also a strong streak of what I might called nationalist cinema.

To name just one example, the Croatian director Jakov Sedlar, who had started making movies with ethnonationalist themes already in the 1980s, with the support of the Catholic Church no less. His most recent creation is the docudrama Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj (Once Upon a Time in Croatia) about the life of his good friend, independent Croatia’s first president, Franjo Tudjman, starring none other than Kevin Spacey.

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(Yugo)Nostalgic Cinema in the Former Yugoslavia

PETER KORCHNAK: Otherwise, films made after 1991 in Yugoslavia’s successor countries deal with a range of themes. For my purpose, I’m of course most interested in films that deal with the Yugoslav period.

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: I was born in Jajce, and guess the date, on 29th of November. And as a kid, I always thought that the flags were waving for my birthday and people were really celebrating just my birthday.

PETER KORCHNAK: Sanjin Pejković is a film scholar in Sweden where he has lived since 1994. He teaches film studies at universities and writes about film for various Swedish publications, focusing on memories of the former Yugoslavia mediated in film and television.

Art historian Dina Iordanova opined that in the former Yugoslavia “reassessing the communist years not a major theme in cinema, partly because this critical project had already been carried out in the 1980’s and partly because of the gruesome breakup that imposed a different set of concerns around the aura of Tito’s legacy.” But that’s only true in part.

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: There are mostly two ways of remembering the former Yugoslavia. And the first way would be through very exaggerated nostalgia. And the second way would be through maybe more of an optics of tyranny, or that Yugoslavia was, you know, a prison for the nations, tamnica naroda. The most films would fall in some of those groups.

PETER KORCHNAK: I actually was thinking about some comparisons with the filmography or cinematography of the former Czechoslovakia, you know, where I’m from, and films made after 1989 about the socialist period. And they follow two tracks and they actually track exactly with what you’re saying. One group of films is kind of a nostalgically tinged, too often comedic stories, but they have a dark kind of undertone or, you know, with the presence of the regime, but it’s that’s always mocked, you know, presented in like, you know, look at these idiots you know, ruling us kind of thing, right or evil people, you know, a lot of coming of age stuff. And the other one was kind of serious dramas, thrillers about the evils of communism, you know, very dark stories about how the place functioned, you know, lots of secret police stuff, opportunists, you know, taking advantage of fifth to the regime, and so on. In terms of Yugoslav film, Would would you say were some of the factors or reasons, these two different groupings or tracks exist?

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: This is something that is being shared throughout the whole eastern central Europe and the former Soviet Union as well. [A] few colleagues of mine have have been researching post-Soviet cinema cultures, and they would identify almost the same progress in this that they would have like films with more of a totalitarian perspective on the past and some films with mild nostalgia.

We do not always have to consider what happened inwards in the countries. We have to remember that the films that we are looking at are often also festival films, and they are dependent on coproductions and on the fundings and funds from different pitches and festivals. And in a way we can see how festivals are shaping this narrative in a way, you know. And we could see that in in Romania with the so-called Romanian New Wave films, those films are really in a way successful in A-B festivals, film festivals but in Romania, almost no one is watching them because they are being seen as more orientated towards Western audiences.

PETER KORCHNAK: In the former East Germany, it’s Goodbye Lenin! versus The Lives of Others, both of which were in relatively wide distribution in the English-speaking world. The former film shows a positively tinged view of the recently collapsed regime with its products and rituals, while the latter centers around Stasi’s surveillance of private citizens.

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: But what I would just add here is that in a way kind of [a] perverted topic, because the same people that are in a way longing back for the country were the same people that destroyed the country. So in a way, it’s very interesting to see what people are— what do they actually mean with being nostalgic for a country that day old, destroyed. That is not always the case of other former socialist countries, you know, so the totalitarian perspective was, in a way a mirrored version of yugonostalgic way of portraying the past.

PETER KORCHNAK: In the Slovenian film Autsajder by Andrej Kosak from 1997, a teenager from a mixed marriage, Bosnian father and a JNA officer, and Slovenian mother, navigates love and punk rock in his new, adopted hometown, as nearby the country’s leader navigates the end of his life.

The Croatian, Ne dao Bog većeg zla (God Forbid Something Worse Would Happen) by Snježana Tribuson from 2002 is a story of an enamored boy becoming an enamored young man in the 1960s Bjelovar. Like most coming of age stories, the film, based on a novel by Goran Tribuson and scored by Darko Rundek, carries a nostalgic tinge, though to be sure it’s for youth; political stances from both sides of the spectrum do get heard, though. The socialist reality surfaces in Tito’s speeches on the radio and scenes around the Relay of Youth.

And Rajko Grlić’s co-production Karaula (Border Post) from 2006 takes the Yugoslav People’s Army as its vehicle for a look at the former country. The border post is at Lake Ohrid, between Yugoslavia and Albania, the year is 1987, and the film a comedy, as many films involving the military are—until they aren’t.

Similar to the nostalgic-ish movies in the former Czechoslovakia, these post-Yugoslav productions have a comedic element but there’s always a dark undercurrent; many end with death.

And finally, Tito. Most films centered around his characters were comedies.

One of the first films to come out after the wars of dissolution started, was Tito i ja (Tito and I) by the Prague School guy Goran Marković, released in 1992. A prococious 10 year old boy embarks on a pilgrimage of sorts to see his idol in person only to find out Tito is not who he seems.

Former Black Wave director, Želimir Žilnik’s mockumentary Tito po drugi put među Srbima (Tito Among Serbs for the Second Time) from 1994 featured a Tito impersonator walking the streets of Belgrade interacting with citizens many of whom treated him as the real deal.

And Maršal, or Marshall Tito’s Spirit, by Vinko Brešan from 1999, takes places on the island of Vis where Yugoslav Partisan veterans start seeing Tito’s ghost. Shenanigans ensue, including an armed insurrection to restore socialism and yugonostalgic tourism to capitalize on the event.

Also worthy of mention here is the documentary Cinema Komunisto by Mila Turajlić, from 2011. Tito’s personal projectionist and other talking heads frame the narrative around the big man’s love of film to tell the story of Yugoslavia as it was created by its film industry. “By collating images from fiction films made in Yugoslavia,” write Ana Grgić and Raluca Iacob in the Frames Cinema Journal, “Cinema Komunisto [is] a film-museum – an archive of cinematographic memory,” which “exemplifies the capacity and power of film to make visible that which is no longer there. It showcases how a nation can be constructed through images and how cinema functioned as a propaganda tool.”

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War Themes in Post-Yugoslav Cinema

All that said, as you might expect—

DIJANA JELAČA: With regards to the prominent themes, of course, trauma and war and memory and coming to terms with what has transpired is a very prominent one. And when we say trauma, obviously, that’s a very broad term. Typically, it means a psychic wound. It means living with something that is a shocking, difficult experience that one has to find a way to work through, survive and possibly, hopefully be able to live with one way or another.

PETER KORCHNAK: Etami Borjan at the University of Zagreb divides post-Yugoslav war-themed movies into two categories. First, films that deal with war directly by portraying events on or around the battlefield, or indirectly by portraying the effects and consequences of war in society. These films were in large part colored by nationalist themes, highlighting victimhood, self-defense, fear of ethnic Other, and so on, and they seem to have been intended mostly for domestic audiences.

The other grouping are movies that have found international acclaim and that basically manifest Balkanism by portraying the place as primitive, exotic, and wild. I found myself a willing and welcoming audience for these self-Balkanizing films, beginning with Underground, which by the way also won a Palme d’Or, and later films by Emir Kusturica.

Lepa sela lepo gore (Pretty Village Pretty Flame) from 1996 by Srdjan Dragojević and Pred doždot (Before the Rain) from 1994 by the Macedonian Milčo Mančevski are the best known examples here of movies portraying gratuitous violence, people’s savage nature, vengeance, and other stereotypical themes.

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: I’m highly critical of Emir Kusturica and Srdjan Dragojević not only in aspects of filmmaking, which of course is highly problematic per se, but I would say that, of course, their own careers and how they profited from nationalistic filmmaking is highly, highly problematic.

PETER KORCHNAK: In recent years Kusturica took a nationalist turn, all the way to shaking hands the presidents Vučić and Putin.

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: And also Dragojević, his second film, maybe Lepa Sela Lepo Gore, which he filmed while the war was still raging in eastern Bosnia. And how did he do that? He had to do some deals with both clergy Chan, some people say even Mladić and how they guarantee them the security you know, during fights in ‘95.

There are so many other aspect not only about film topics and film perspective, but also like filmmaking being part of this mafia cultural way of doing things in in former Yugoslavia as well.

PETER KORCHNAK: Similar to the period after Tito’s death, after 2000, that is after the death of Franjo Tudjman and the removal from power of Slobodan Milošević, a more critical treatment of the war emerged.

Ničija zemlja (No Man’s Land) from 2001 by Danis Tanović, won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Film with its portrayal of war’s absurdities with dark humor. Notably, though it was billed as a Bosnian film, it was a coproduction that included several ex-Yugoslav countries and international partners, though no Bosnian funding.

Coproductions in Post Yugoslav Cinema

DIJANA JELAČA: One could make a very convincing argument that in the contemporary landscape of post-Yugoslav cinema, Yugoslavia is recreated time and again because if you look at the list of coproductions that are happening, it’s sort of a definition of Yugoslavia. All of the countries are working time and again together to coproduce films because neither of the individual industries is strong enough to turn out number of films on its own. So coproductions are a way to keep going and survive.

PETER KORCHNAK: The film Karaula I mentioned earlier, was the first coproduction of all former Yugoslav republics.

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: In all of the former republics, we had different film production companies. So people in different ways cooperated a lot during the existence of the country. And then after ‘91 or ‘92, a lot of these physical ways of relating to each other, they were still there. Just because the country fell apart, it didn’t mean that these people who collaborated 10 years earlier would per definition become enemies.

Some of the producers saw that, of course, you once had a market that was like 22 million possible viewers, now you are in a way, just— you have your own country, so pretty early on, I would say, late 90s already, people start collaborating in order both to get finances and coproductions, but also to get the possibilities of screening films for each other.

But if we’re looking at cultural production in the whole region, as it is called, or as Judah calls it Yugosphere, we can most definitely see that a lot of directors and film people are collaborating with each other. And this is not only because of the nostalgia, but because of the economical issues.

The thing about film, it’s so expensive to produce. In order to even break even, you really need a huge amount of audiences to watch your film.

Because if you are making a film in Croatia, you will have a smaller amount of money and smaller amount of market to screen your films just for the home audiences. So a lot of these films are being coproduced.

And in a way, when you co-produce something, and this goes for the whole coproduction area of filmmaking, you have to add something from the coproducing country. So if we are watching fiction films, I would say that a lot of those films are being in a way watered down by all of the pitches and all of the coproduction demands. If you’re making something that is not hugely nationalistic, then we’ll have of course, bigger chance of distributing it throughout the former Yugoslavia as well.

So in a way, maybe these films are now being more balanced, and are in a way more more tolerant towards the common past. But for those films that are being coproduced, you have to find something that still applies for other countries in the region as well.

PETER KORCHNAK: Like Partisan films in Yugoslavia, Bosnian war movies will inevitably be at the top of any list of recommendations of films to see from and about the region.

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: This is nothing that is really abnormal about this. I mean, for Germany, it took two decades for the film directors to start to make films about the Holocaust and the Second World War in a more nuanced manner, and we are still seeing films about the Vietnam War produced in the United States.

So I mean, there are, of course, two reactions to this: “Oh, no, another war film.” Or, “This only happened like 25, 30 years ago, we still need to dwell into that trauma.”

If we put that into perspective, I would still say that we will watch a lot of other war films. There are plenty of war themes ahead of us because I think that there are a lot of topics that are still uncovered. There are many different stories that are needed to be told in a way and not only from Bosnia but from the whole region.

PETER KORCHNAK: The Remembering Yugoslavia podcast is one of the ways these stories get told. This one-man show—yes, I am it—takes countless hours to produce, from research to interviews to writing to editing.

But ultimately it, too, is a co-production: I am only able to keep it going thanks to the generous support of listeners like you who care about these stories and the memory of the country that no longer exists.

Your gift of any size will help me keep the lights on; automatic monthly contributions, via Patreon or Paypal or subscription are both convenient and they make a difference month in and month out.

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Dealing with Trauma in Yugoslav Cinema

PETER KORCHNAK: Trauma is definitely a topic that’s prominent in post Yugoslav cinema, but you point out that women directors treat that subject differently, in a different way than men might. How do they talk about trauma? How do they treat that subject, because it is very different from what I’ve seen, and from what I understand from your writing.

DIJANA JELAČA: Here, I just want to be really careful not to essentialize. When I talk about women directors and women’s film work, I don’t want to make even an inadvertent assumption or suggestion that everything that is female directed, that is made by women directors has something more in common than male directors. So I’m looking at tendencies. I don’t want to essentialize women’s work or even the category of woman. Just because there’s a woman behind the camera as a film maker, it doesn’t mean that the film is necessarily going to be progressive, non-problematic, or even feminist. There’s no guarantee of these things. And in fact, male directors have made incredible feminist films as well.

But when looking at cinema and trauma, I did notice a tendency: that there’s something different with regards to the tone, the register, the approach to the emotional aspects of this question and of this really difficult theme and experience.

So I can point out a couple of examples of this. Aida Begić, a filmmaker from Bosnia, who makes Snow, for example, in 2008. This is a very quiet film. This is a film about a very dramatic events that is very quiet, that is removed from warfare as such, from bombastic depictions of wartime events. It takes place in a little village where most of the residents are women, who are all dealing with unspeakable loss of their loved ones who are men. So the implication is that this is related to the atrocities that took place in Srebrenica at the end of the war in Bosnia in 1995, where majority of people who were systematically executed were men and the survivors are women. And these women are looking for the remains of their loved ones. But the tenderness and the care with which they relate to one another and the way in which what is not spoken is the most important thing that is still always there, that void is so incredibly present, and we can speak directly of that void, we speak around it, is something that is really incredibly present in that film.

And that’s just one example. There’s many others, including very prominently, probably most prominently, Jasmila Žbanić’s work, another Bosnian filmmaker, who, in my opinion, is one of the most important contemporary filmmakers in the world. She has time and again made films that are also speaking around an experience without making a spectacle out of trauma, out of victimhood, out of suffering, but speaking around it, thinking through how does one live or survive in the aftermath of it? How does one come to terms? Is that even possible? And how does one, not heal, often that’s sort of an impossibility, if you will, but learn to live with that void and with the absence or in the aftermath of going through and having experienced unspeakable traumas.

PETER KORCHNAK: Jasmila Žbanić’s Quo Vadis, Aida? won Best Film at the 2021 European Film Awards and was nominated for an Oscar in the Best International Feature category in 2022. It is the first fiction film about the Srebrenica genocide.

DIJANA JELAČA: When Jasmila Žbanić made Quo Vadis, Aida? which came out in 2020, we were quarter of a century away from the genocide in Srebrenica. And no filmmaker from the region, made a feature narrative film about it. There were documentaries, but not feature narrative films.

And in my conversation with Jasmila, I asked her, where did it come from this, this need to make a film that is really such a challenge, because she had the pressure from all sides and the burden of the world on her back, a lot of expectations and a lot of controversies, because everyone knew or what they wanted the film to be in a way. And she said that she kept waiting for someone to make this film, to make this film about this particular event, and it wasn’t happening. So she decided, I guess it’s going to have to be me. And of course, it was going to have to be her because she has shown time and again in her previous work, that she goes there, she tackles things that others don’t, or that are maybe too taboo or too controversial, not something that one would want to shoulder. For example, when she made Grbavica in 2006, that was also the first feature narrative film to tackle the subject of mass rape that happened during the Bosnian war as well.

PETER KORCHNAK: The titular Aida is a fictional character, a translator and interpreter for UN troops as the Bosnian Serb army conquers the town and takes its men to be murdered. The story tracks her attempts to save her husband and sons and then the aftermath of it all.

DIJANA JELAČA: And that was a matter of controversy as well. Some people were upset that she created a fictional character when there’s so many real existing stories of survivors and the victims. Something that’s completely understandable is when one has such a pressure and burden to depict accurately, if you will, events that are still such an open wound in Bosnian society and the region, and obviously there’s also still denial that this ever happened, that she wanted to give herself or leave to herself some creative license in creating a fictional character that was the creative license to give herself some breathing room.

So Aida is sort of in between in this world because she is in a way as a Bosniak Muslim woman, she is in a precarious position as the Serbian, Bosnian Serb army is encroaching but she’s also protected more so than her fellow Bosnians—on the one hand, because she is a woman, and women weren’t targeted, weren’t murdered but most of all, she’s protected because she works for the UN, so she has that pass, if you will, she has a safe way out to where others don’t. And so this in between position is really fascinating and how the film negotiates that. And of course, her desperate drive and effort to save her husband and her two sons. And we see many other stories around Aida, other families and their losses. And there’s sort of these fleeting passing moments when you see a young woman being dragged off, we can only assume to be raped. We see the politics of it all, the Dutch UN contingent failing miserably to protect the so-called Safe Zone, which turned out to be anything but. And so what Jasmila Žbanić does in such a gripping way is convey the anguish, the increasingly desperate anguish of this woman.

And then in the final chapter of the film, the question of, how do we live in the aftermath of such an impossible loss. We are transported into sort of present day, vaguely present day Srebrenica, Bosnia, and the situation in which Aida is looking for the remains of her loved ones and finds them, which is something that’s some people are still going through, still looking. It gives one, not consolation, but some kind of closure, at least partial, to bury the remains of their loved one. So if one is still looking for those remains a quarter of a century later, you can only imagine what anguish that is.

But also the fact that when she returns to Srebrenica, she is going to go back to being a teacher, and she will be teaching a mix of both the kids of the survivors and the children of the perpetrators who are living next door, sitting at a children’s recital, side by side. And this is the reality of many people in Bosnia and post-Yugoslavia region today in Srebrenica included.

PETER KORCHNAK: In Serbia, Quo Vadis, Aida? was only projected in Novi Pazar, a Bosniak majority town. It wasn’t shown in cinemas or television in Serbia or Republika Srpska, except in Srebrenica proper.

The film released the same year that did get wide publicity in the Serbian World was Dara of Jasenovac, which in no uncertain terms showed the suffering of Serbs in the World War Two-era concentration camp in the Independent State of Croatia. The film served as a counter to the genocide narrative, Serbs as perpetrators, by highlighting Serbs as victims.

DIJANA JELAČA: Those kinds of refusals to acknowledge the existence of a film, on the one hand, show that the powers that be are afraid and understand the power of cinema, and also they show that people will still be able to see these films. It’s just a question of whether they want to or not.

PETER KORCHNAK: As Iordanova writes about the cinema of Yugoslavia and Southeast Europe, quote, “coming to terms with the past has been a central topic in public discourses and the complex and powerful role of memory in the contemporary formation of national identities has become an essential problem in almost all artistic and cultural practices.”

DIJANA JELAČA: Trauma is politicized, time and again. When it gets co-opted into these ethnonationalist discourses, it becomes a currency. And therefore, competition ensues as to who has experienced greater trauma, who has experienced trauma at all, and whose trauma is completely denied, ignored, as if it’s not there.

And so it was fascinating and troubling, honestly, to see the competing discourses between these two films that were inadvertently or not inadvertently, by some people deliberately pitted against one another, as if somehow the traumas of World War Two and of the concentration camps and the mass murdering and genocide of people that was happening then and what happened during the Bosnian war, and in Srebrenica in particular, are mutually exclusive. Either one happened or the other happened. I find this really strange. These things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We can acknowledge that there have unfortunately been atrocities and mass death both in World War Two and in the wars that marked the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

Indeed, Dara of Jasenovac makes a spectacle out of impossible suffering in such a insistently aggressively visual way. And Quo Vadis, Aida? does something precisely the opposite: it talks around it, but it never depict in any graphic way the killings that took place during the Srebrenica genocide. That was a deliberate decision by Jasmila Žbanić not to show a spectacle. We know exactly what’s happening. And sometimes in film, not showing something is much more powerful, only implying what’s happening, much more powerful than directly showing it.

And I think about it in these terms: Whose gaze are we following? Whose look are we following in this film? And if we were to be privy to that actual situation and the spectacle of the killing, the individuals who are murdered, they cannot bear witness to their own death, we cannot be witnesses, we are dead. So a witness is someone who survived something and therefore is able to tell that story. So the only other living person in that scenario is the perpetrator who does the killing and then walks away. And Jasmila Žbanić deliberately does not want to put us in the point of view of the perpetrator.

PETER KORCHNAK: And so in what way do these films help? Or what role do these films play in the societies dealing with said trauma, wherever they are produced or wherever they are screened. What kind of impact do these films have on on that discourse on that rhetoric, on people’s attention, on people’s psychology, emotions in dealing with that past, with that trauma?

DIJANA JELAČA: The films of the kind that I mentioned, that are delicately and tenderly addressing very difficult past experiences that can be individual but also extrapolated into the collective are films that actually can do and are doing a lot of really, really important work in the post-Yugoslav region, which is a region that is still so divided along ethnonationalist lines, especially if we’re talking about top down politics. And then when we get to the individual experiences of these films, I think they are a counter-narrative to this still dominant ethnonationalist politics.

Cinema has such power to incite empathy in us, to put us in the shoes of another, where we identify with someone who may be entirely different from us, someone who we have nothing in common with, yet for that period of time that we’re watching a film such as Quo Vadis, Aida?, we are with Aida, we are with her struggle, we are experiencing the anguish that she is experiencing. That power of cinema to then experience something like this even if one wasn’t there, even one didn’t experience that loss is immeasurable because it can bridge across differences and divides and across borders—our region is sadly, nowadays, obsessed with borders where there were none before— film and such experiences, such affective responses to these works can bridge and defy those borders, and make us realize, understand, and even temporarily identify with the person who has experienced such an impossible loss.

So I think that films are doing really, really important work on an affective level with the audiences.

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Other Themes in Post-Yugoslav Cinematography

PETER KORCHNAK: Yugoslavia and war aren’t the only themes in the post-Yugoslav cinematography.

DIJANA JELAČA: There’s others that keep coming back and filmmakers dealing with them all for understandable reasons: life under austerity and precarious transition to capitalism, tranzicija. What is transition and when does it end? When do we decide that it’s ended? Or are we in the state of perpetual transition? This is the question that films often ask, showing this economic precariousness, dispossession. Diaspora and diasporic themes, whether it’s displacement, forced displacement, whether it’s economic emigration, leaving one’s own country behind, because one does not see any prosperity in that space. And what does it mean to leave? What does it mean for one’s identity?

PETER KORCHNAK: A lot of these transition films are dark comedies again. As the director Rajko Grlić said, “For us in the ex-Yugoslavia, laughter is a way of survival, but there is no comedy without suffering.” And they tend to be by and about men.

Bure baruta, which translates as powder keg but the international release bore the title Cabaret Balkan, is a Serbian film by Goran Paskaljević from 1998. In an interlocking stories format made popular in the early 1990s by Robert Altman’s Short Cuts and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, it tracks a taxi driver across Belgrade to show the absurdity of life in Milošević-era Serbia.

Other standouts from or about this period in Serbian history include Rane (Wounds) from 1998 about young gansters and Munje (Dudes) from 2001, which just saw a sequel released a few weeks ago.

In a Croatian parallel, Metastaze by Branko Schmidt from 2009 is a story of four hooligans and addicts getting into trouble a few years after the war.

As well, Iordanova writes, “the relations between former Yugoslav republics are still an inexhaustible source of controversy and the shared recent history is still an open battlefield of interpretations.”

Srdjan Dragojević’s Parada (Parade) from 2011 has a gangster and former paramilitary recruiting his former enemies from across the former Yugoslavia to provide security for the first Pride Parade in Belgrade.

And in Croatia, Ničiji sin (Nobody’s Son) by Arsen Anton Ostojić from 2008, centers on the father-son story of Izidor, a former political prisoner whose campaign for MP gets disrupted by a Serbian refugee who had imprisoned him back in the socialist day, and his son Ivan, who lost both his legs in the Homeland War.

A common thread in this crop of films is indeed outsider status of its characters.

DIJANA JELAČA: We can actually argue that being a person who lives in the post-Yugoslav region, one is always already a diasporic entity, because Yugoslavia for those of us especially who were born in Yugoslavia, no longer exists. So to be from a country that no longer exists is already, no matter where you are in the world, a diasporic experience. So diaspora and exile are very frequent themes for filmmakers hailing from former Yugoslavia, whether they live in the region or whether they themselves have also moved elsewhere and are making films elsewhere.

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[SOUNDBITE]

Post-Yugoslav Documentaries

PETER KORCHNAK: While most of the focus in the discussion of cinema tends to be on feature films, documentaries play a major role in dealing with the past.

Etami Borjan of the University of Zagreb, sees three main tendencies in the recent documentary production. Historical documentaries aimed at deconstructing, reinterpreting, and subverting nationalist historical narratives appeared immediately after the break-up of Yugoslavia. Pejković has been studying this group of documentaries in which—

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: —documentary and fiction filmmakers such as Dušan Makavejev, Goran Marković, and Lordan Zafranović viewed the past and the former Yugoslavia’s past throughout their own film careers. Because at some point, all of all three filmmakers made documentary films about the former Yugoslavia seen through their own careers.

And Zafranović started to mixture his own, I mean excerpts from his own films, with journal films from Ustaša period in the forties.

And Makavejev made this beautiful film essay called Hole in the Soul (Rupa u duši), which is of course, wordplay because his name is Dušan, so he’s missing— there is a hole in his soul, of course, and he’s trying to find it. And the hole is, of course, the country that is no longer (this was made in ‘94, ‘95). He tries to trace where his soul is and where it can be lost on the path. And by doing that, he also goes back— I mean to Dušan Makavejev was a highly controversial filmmaker even during the existence of Yugoslavia. So there is something interesting when he goes and tries to understand both his own positions and his career and the state of the country.

And then Goran Marković made his film Serbia Nulte Godine (Serbia Year Zero) in 2001, where he filmed the fifth of October and the whole Otpor revolution and of course, Milošević’s fall and everything. But then he also went back and tried to understand both the rise of Milošević and Yugoslavian history by posing it to his own film career.

PETER KORCHNAK: Autobiographical, self-reflexive, and first-person documentaries that deal with personal or collective traumas tend to filter history through somebody’s memory.

In Episode 59, “Island, Bared,” you heard Tiha Gudac talk about her film “Goli,” which is a great example of this memoir-like type of documentaries, as it presents the history of the Yugoslav prison colony through the prism of Gudac’s family history and her own recollections.

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: Srdjan Keča made one of what I would consider most interesting documentary films about about Yugoslav wars. It was called Pismo tati (Letter to Dad), where it’s just a 48, 49 minutes long essay film about his own father, who was volunteering on [sic] Vukovar during the war. How come his father volunteered in that war? And how can you, being introspective filmmaker, how can you deal with those issues, like how can you ask questions to someone who’s no longer with us, but how can you cope with that in a way. And he does it so beautifully, he does it so interestingly.

PETER KORCHNAK: Finally, testimonial documentaries center on memories of events as shared by direct participants and witnesses. Darko Bavoljak’s Goli Otok (Bare Island) falls into this category, feature as it does a former prisoner and a creator of the prison colony facing the camera talking-head style.

SANJIN PEJKOVIĆ: And Dubina Dva (Depth Two) by Ognjen Glavonić, which goes back to the war in, I mean, Kosovo War, and the massacres that are being committed during the Kosovo war where he uses witness accounts from the Hague Tribunal, you know, and he goes and visits those places 20 years later. So in a way, it is a montage of sound and image where we see all those places where the massacres occured but 20 years later while we are listening to all of the accounts of what happened during the witnessing processes in [The] Hague.

They are not only documentary films telling us like it was or like it is. What is interesting about those films are, they’re equally beautiful and really compelling in how they are structured and their form, and their stylistical [sic] elements are really interesting. So they’re not only good films or interesting films, because they’re tackling some subjects that are important, but they do it in highly innovative ways.

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[BACKGROUND MUSIC – “Epic Cinematic” by Scott Holmes Music]

PETER KORCHNAK: “The more I look at Southeastern Europe’s cinema, the more it seems that all important films from the region ultimately deal with historical memory,” writes art historian Dina Iordanova. She’s talking about the wider region, including Albania, Greece, Romania, and her native Bulgaria, but her points do apply to the former Yugoslavia. “[H]istory is treated as something to endure, to live through, a process where one does not have agency but is subjected to the will power of external forces. Someone else ultimately decides your present and future. Shifting narratives permit the story to be told from different angles. Priority is given to some memories while others are neglected or totally eliminated. These conditions often result in uneven or choppy narratives of the historical past, present, and future of the region.”

It may seem like a trivial statement, after all, unless it’s science fiction a film is by definition going to be about the past. Nevertheless, perhaps it’s Balkan fatalism filtered through Balkan passion, the attitude I’ve found so endearing and enduring, of, tomorrow we may be dead so let’s party today. And perhaps it’s not so surprising, as history here is richer in its layers than burek.

I have a dozen tabs open right now in my internet browser with films, available on YouTube, so I can catch up on my Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav cinema. I can’t wait to watch them, and keep adding to the list. Beats binging shows on streaming services any day.

[SOUNDBITE]

[BACKGROUND MUSIC – “Rainmaker” by Petar Alargić]

PETER KORCHNAK: Next on Remembering Yugoslavia:

NEVENA ŠKRBIĆ ALEMPIJEVIĆ: Kumrovec was transformed into a political place. And one of the places where the ideology was supposed to be spread, one of the main landmarks of socialist ideology.

PETER KORCHNAK: Day of Youth continues to be commemorated in Tito’s birthplace as a major defunct Yugoslav holiday. Why? What happens there? And what is this mythical place? That story in the next episode.

Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts, follow to make sure you don’t miss out, and subscribe to support us.

[OUTRO MUSIC – “Jugoslavijo / Od Vardara pa do Triglava” by Horn Orchestra]

PETER KORCHNAK: That’s all for this episode of Remembering Yugoslavia, thank you for listening. Find additional information, YouTube links to the mentioned movies, embeds, and the transcript of this episode at RememberingYugoslavia.com/Podcast.

Before you go, check your seat to make sure you have everything and don’t forget to drop some coin in the virtual donation box to ensure a next showing. Exit to
RememberingYugoslavia.com/Donate
and take advantage of one of the options there. I thank you and future generations thank you.

Outro music courtesy of Robert Petrić.
The tracks “Rainmaker” by Petar Alargić and “Epic Cinematic” by Scott Holmes Music as well as sound effects by Over and Out licensed under Creative Commons.

Film clips used for educational purposes.

I am Peter Korchňak.

Ćao!

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Additional Sources

  • Beck, Kay. “Review of Liberated Cinema: The Yugoslav Experience, 1945-2011 by by Daniel J. Goulding.” Journal of Film and Video, Vol. 55, No. 2/3 (2003), pp. 98-100
  • Borjan, Etami. “Trauma and Memory in Post-Yugoslav Cinema.” Umjetnost riječi, Vol. LXV No. 3-4 (2021), pp. 153-179
  • Gilić, Nikica. “Post-Yugoslav Film and the Construction of New National Cinemas.” Contemporary Southeastern Europe, Vol. 4 No. 2 (2017), pp. 102-120
  • Horton, Andrew. “The Rise and Fall of the Yugoslav Partisan Film: Cinematic Perceptions of a National Identity.” Film Criticism, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Winter, 1987-88), pp. 18-27
  • Horton, Andrew. “Laughter Dark & Joyous in Recent Films from the Former Yugoslavia.” Film Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Fall 2002), pp. 23-28
  • Jelača, Dijana. “Introduction: War Trauma as Screen Memory.” In: Dislocated Screen Memory Narrating Trauma in Post-Yugoslav Cinema. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015
  • Mihelj, Sabina. “Negotiating Cold War Culture at the Crossroads of East and West: Uplifting the Working People, Entertaining the Masses, Cultivating the Nation.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 53, No. 3 (2011), pp. 509-539
  • Stojčić, Marijana and Nađa Duhaček. “From Partisans to Housewives: Representation of Women in Yugoslav Cinema.” Časopis za povijest Zapadne Hrvatske, Vol. XI, No. 11 (2016), pp. 69-107
  • Tadić, Darko. “Yugoslav Propaganda Film: Early Works (1945-52)” Journal of Film and Video,Vol. 63, No. 3 (Fall 2011), pp. 3-12

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