Experimental Yugoslavian Cinema

The Old-New Experiment* or about the Yugoslav Avant-Garde: ex-partisans, artists of general practice, revolutionaries and contra-revolutionaries, experimenters.

with love to PlayDoc, who dare to experiment.

The Yugoslav Avant-Garde short program, curated for Play-Doc 2016, is a tiny frame of the experimental and avant-garde cinema of the 60ies to the 80ies of Yugoslavia.
‘Yugoslavia’, once spelled and called “Jugoslavia”, was a country in Southeast Europe during most of the 20th century. As Wikipedia would define it.
Today most of its (former) citizens prefer to call it former-Yugoslavia. For many reasons and with many consequences. That used to be a real country. As many of its former citizens would define it.

The Old-New Experiment program pays homage to the experimenters of Jugoslavija that used to be a real country.
Their images today are remembered as anti-film, alternative–film, new film, amateur film. Some remember it and write of it as the Yugoslav neo-avant-guard film. Avant-garde being an extravagant, radical art practice introducing and exploring both new forms and new subject matters.
The avant-garde film of the 60ies – 80ies originates, paradoxically enough, from the state-formed Yugoslav cine clubs (kino klub), mostly organized by film amateurs and film buffs within the socialist established Narodna tehnika (People’s Technique Clubs). These gathered different and diverse avant-garde groups comprised of “lost souls” who found no joy or stimulus in the massive art-production of the brave new socialist order. And they opposed to the cinema as routine with the cinema as experiment.
The cinema of the system, the bastion of the heroic visions of the new Yugoslav man and woman, was a “serious thing” through which the almost-utopian society of social solidarity was multiplying itself in the non-partisan circles of art, “educating” its subjects. The cinema of experiment, on the other side, was undressing the utopia of the brotherhood, showcasing the ridicule of the accelerated modernization, of the patriarchal brutality still standing firm in the roots of the grandiose modern Yugoslav society, of the worn-out values of the nouveau riche socialistic elites still with mud on their shoes. The cinema of the experiment was laughing in the face of the comical ego of the “grand” state that safeguards its classless society through a comical self-proclaimed communist elite without a sense of humor.

The cinema experiment was to be an act of uncompromised political engagement.
The experimenter was a revolutionary, in a permanent state of confrontation.
The experimenter was an anti-artist.
The experimenter was de-materializing freedom, liberating it from the concept of freedom itself. The experimenter believed that the creation of real freedom is an option.
The experimenter was creating reflexive anti-images against the background of the system.
The experimenter questioned not moves and petty politics. The experimenter questioned the very premises on which the Yugoslav society was built: the beautiful lies of the Potemkin village.
The experimenter believed that revolution is not just a sentiment.
The experimenter was only experimenting.

*Experiment is a course of action tentatively adopted without a predictable outcome, with the aim to try something new, in order to gain experience and make new discoveries.

by Kumjana Novakova

14441 Kvadrat / About the Art of Love or a Film with 14441 Frames

Karpo Aćimović Godina, 10', 1972, Yugoslavia
A film by Karpo Aćimović Godina

“The army asked me to make an official military film. Instead I made one that said: ‘Make love, not war.’ The military literally chopped it up with an ax, but I was able to save one print.” Karpo Godina

Juda / Judas

Vlatko Gilić, 11', 1972, Yugoslavia
Directed by Vlatko Gilić
Cinematography: Ljubomir Ivković
Producers: Dunav Film
Editing: Aleksandar Ilić

Seemingly simple and at the same time very specific expression of Gilić’s creativity involves the viewer to confront his own Inner Self. The call of the wilderness which we listen in, the confrontation like a touch of evil forces which haunt us, the demons which we tackle. This director is trying to overcome this game which takes as on in a paradoxical way.

Kasabe / Provincial towns

Mirza Idrizović, 10', 1977, Yugoslavia
Directed by Mirza Idrizović
Cinematography: Dragan Resner
Editing: Zlata Miličević
Sound: Ljubo Petek
Script: Zuko Džumhur

The collage of everyday impressions of social modernization; mixed cultures of old and new mediums, traditions and folklore…

Pioniri maleni mi smo vojska prava, svakog dana ničemo ko zelena trava / Little Pioneers

Želimir Žilnik, 18', 1968, Yugoslavia
Written and directed by Želimir Žilnik
Camera: Miodrag Jakšić Fanđo
Producers: Neoplanta film, Novi Sad
Sound: Dragan Stanojević
Editing: Dragan Mitrović

Socially neglected children, taking care of themselves, dare to steal and break the law. They argue with parents who neither understand them, nor do they have feelings for them. As a counterpoint to this story we see a TV show where popular actor-entertainer Gula (Dragoljub Milosavljevic) addresses happy and carefree children.

Poslije podne (puška) / Afternoon (The Gun)

Lordan Zafranović, 15', 1968, Yugoslavia
A film by Lordan Zafranović
Cinematography: Ivica Rajković
Producers: Filmski autorski studio – FAS
Editing: Katja Majer

On a hot summer afternoon in a city courtyard, a young man amuses himself by aiming air guns at random targets. A dramaturgical nerve hits a boy, bringing a helpless sparrow as a target… The man hits gradually, indifferently and skillfully; the kid helps him showing no less viciousness. The film examines the roots and manifestations of Evil, which will become the director’s permanent concern.

Žemüko / Gal

Dunja Ivanišević, 6', 1968, Yugoslavia
Directed by Dunja Ivanišević
Cinematography: Andrija Pivčević
Producers: Kino Klub Split
Editing: Dunja Ivanišević

As well as putting female body and energy, obssesion with its own physical beauty (male also) and (erotic) desires in the center of attention, this little film also looked and sounded attractive. The gender declaratory title gained more of its simbolic value with time so Gal travels the world nowdays as a paradigmatic model of croatian feminist culture.