YugoslaviaNATIONALIZATION OF THE FILM INDUSTRY
SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO
A cinematic tradition in the lands inhabited by Southern Slavs has evolved under various political divisions, of which Yugoslavia covers the longest time span. The film legacy of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is also crucial to the formation of national cinemas of several states, such as Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Macedonia. The term "Yugoslavia," which came into use in 1929, designates here a territorial, linguistic, and cultural entity rather than a country.
Indigenous filmmaking in Yugoslavia emerged in the first two decades of the twentieth century, producing shorts, scenics, and documentaries often ethnographic in nature. Local pioneers included Karol Grosmann and Metod Badjura (1896–1971) in Slovenia, the Manaki brothers (Yanaki and Milton) in Macedonia, and Josip Karaman, and Josip Halla in Croatia. In Serbia, Svetozar Botorić (1857–1916), in collaboration with the French company Pathé, produced the first feature-length film, Život i dela besmrtnog vožda Karadjordja (The Life and Work of the Immortal Leader Karadjordje, 1911). Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the establishment of several production companies—specializing mainly in documentaries and sporadic feature films—was not enough to create a film industry. Among the notable films of that period are the Serbian Sa verom u Boga (In God We Trust, Mihajlo Al. Popović, 1932), the Slovenian V kraljestvu zlatoroga (In the Kingdom of the Goldhorn, Janko Ravnik, 1931), and films by the Croat, Oktavijan Miletić (1902–1987), and the Macedonian, Blagoja Drnkov. A film industry in Yugoslavia emerged only after the World War II.
The formal beginning of state cinema in socialist Yugoslavia is dated 13 December 1944, when the Communist leader, Josip Broz Tito (1892–1980), established a film section in the state administration. The cultural significance of film was elevated through the centralization of the film industry which was governed by a number of federal committees between 1945 and 1951. Consequently, each republic was granted a film company (Jadran Film in Zagreb, Aval Film and Zvezda Film in Belgrade, Triglav Film in Ljubljana), and a film archive (Kinoteka, established 1949) and film school (Film Academy, established 1950) were opened in Belgrade. Films depicting the battles of Tito's partisans characterized the early films produced by the new regime. Slavica (Vjekoslav Afrić, 1947) is the first Yugoslav feature film and quite predictably deals with the conquests of the resistance. The glorification of the partisans gave way to films portraying the postwar reconstruction and the building of a new socialist state. Živjeće ovaj narod (The Unconquered People, Nikola Popović, 1947) and Na svoji zemlji (On Our Own Land, France Štiglic, 1948) on the one hand exemplify this period of state propaganda, but on the other reflect the innocent postwar enthusiasm of the nation. The Soviet-style socialist realism of the 1940s gave way, beginning in the 1950s, to more critical views of the socialist reality that reflected Yugoslavia's new political position in Eastern Europe.
A subgenre of Yugoslav partisan films emerged in the 1960s and enjoyed its highest popularity during the 1970s. Although films that glorified Tito's partisans, combining the pathos of the officially sanctioned war films with emotionally charged stories, had been made since the end of the war, with time they acquired the attributes of a commercial genre. They began to emulate American Westerns in their emphasis on action and clearly defined forces of good Yugoslav partisans and evil Nazi soldiers. The portrayal of major battles of Yugoslavia's World War II served as excuses for making such films, including Veljko Bulajić's (b. 1928) Kozara (1962) and Bitka na Neretvi (Battle of the River Neretva, 1969). Predictable endings and stylistic simplicity made partisan films very popular with audiences, and some of them, such as Otpisani (Written Off, Aleksandar Djordjević, 1974), turned into television series. Tito's death in 1980 brought an end to this subgenre.
Yugoslav cinema received international recognition in the late 1950s through the work of a group of animators collectively known as the Zagreb School of Animation. They viewed animation as a form of abstract visual expression. Their experimental films were recognized for their humorous look at the paradoxes of modern life and parodies of other art forms while providing a profound look at the dehumanization, alienation, and other anxieties of contemporary society. The films relied on formal simplicity to convey intricate ideas. The school's achievements were crowned by an Oscar® awarded for Surogat (Ersatz, Dušan Vukotić, 1961). Writer-director Vatroslav Mimica (b. 1923), who made both animated and live-action films, received international acclaim for Samac (The Loner, 1958), Kod fotografa (At the Photographer's, 1959), and Jaje (The Egg, 1959). Other Zagreb animators of note are Nedeljko Dragić, Vladimir Kristl, Borivoj Dovniković, Pavao Śtalter, Zdenko Gašparovic, Joško Marušić, and Aleksandar Marks. Many films of the Zagreb school became classics of animated film and a major international festival of animation, held in the Croatian capital since 1970, established the city as a major force in world animation.
A tendency—rather than a film movement—called novi film emerged in the wake of the political and economic liberalization of Yugoslavia in the 1960s and 70s. While lacking a program or coherent aesthetics, novi film sought to free Yugoslav cinema from bureaucratic dogmatism and promote free expression and experimentation. Inspired by Italian Neorealism and various new waves in European cinema, the filmmakers rejected the dominant style of socialist realism, with its officially sanctioned optimism and patriotic education of the masses, opting instead for exposing the darker side of the socialist state with its corruption and hypocrisy. More radical filmmakers voiced open criticism of the Communist regime. They were called "Black Wave" by the censors, but later the name began to denote nonconformist film culture. Živojin Pavlović's (1933–1998) Budjenje pacova (The Rats Woke Up, 1967) and Kad budem mrtav i beo (When I Am Dead and Gone, 1967) exemplify the Black Wave together with films by Želimir Žilnik (b. 1942) and Bata Čengić (b. 1933).
The best internationally known of all Yugoslav directors is Dušan Makavejev (b. 1932). His early films—Čovek nije tica (Man Is Not a Bird, 1965), Ljubavni slučaj ili tragedija službenice PTT (Love Affair; or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, 1967), and W.R.—Misterije organizma (W.R.—Mysteries of the Organism, 1971)—reflect both the thematic tendencies of the Black Wave as well as the modernist styles of the novi film. Forced to leave Yugoslavia, Makavejev worked abroad for nearly two decades but returned to Belgrade to shoot his Gorila se kupa u podne (Gorilla Bathes at Noon, 1993). Aleksandar Petrović (1929–1994) is another Yugoslav director who established an international reputation. His intimate Dvoje (And Love Has Vanished, 1961) and the partisan genre Tri (Three, 1965) established him as a leading voice of the novi film. Petrović's ethnographic Skupljači perja (I Even Met Happy Gypsies, 1967) was a great international critical and commercial success, and the politically charged Majstor i Margarita (The Master and Margaret, 1972) won top awards at the Venice Film Festival.
A noteworthy mark on Yugoslav cinema was left by a group of filmmakers who graduated from the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in the Czech Republic. They became known as the Yugoslav Prague Group, with works characterized by meticulous attention to cinematic style and plots that combined drama and subtle humor. The most celebrated works of the group are Samo jednom se ljubi (The Melody Haunts My Memory, Rajko Grlić, 1981), Okupacija u 26 slika (Occupation in 26 Pictures, Lordan Zafranović, 1978), Virdzina (Virginia, Srdjan Karanović, 1991) and Petrijin Venac (Petria's Wreath, Karanović, 1980), Tito i ja (Tito and I, Goran Marković, 1992), and Čuvar plaže u zimskom periodu (Beach Guard in Winter, Goran Paskaljević, 1976) and Bure baruta (Cabaret Balkan, Paskaljević, 1998), along with Otac na službenom putu (When Father Was Away on Business, Emir Kusturica [b. 1954], 1985) and Bila jednom jedna zemlja (Underground, Emir Kusturica, 1995).
The Balkan conflict and breakup of Yugoslavia became the subject of some 250 documentary and feature films made by Yugoslav and international directors and was unprecedented in post-communist Eastern Europe. Theo Angelopoulos's To vlemma tou Odyssea (Ulysses' Gaze, 1995), Kusturica's Underground), and Michael Winterbottom's Welcome to Sarajevo (1997) were the most representative examples. The political changes and
b. Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), 13 October 1932
Dušan Makavejev is one of the most controversial directors and screenwriters to emerge from the former Yugoslavia. Trained in both psychology and film, Makavejev began his career writing film criticism and directing shorts and documentaries. From the beginning, his films posed a challenge to the values of the socialist state. Openly provocative in his approach, Makavejev established himself as the most original member of the Yugoslav oppositional "Black Wave."
His first feature, Čovek nije tica (Man Is Not a Bird, 1965), is set in a small industrial town and depicts the affair of a visiting industrial specialist and a local hairdresser, while at the same time targeting the very fabric of socialist society, namely, its "shock workers," lack of individual freedom, social control, ritualistic propaganda, and hypocrisy. Ljubavni slučaj ili tragedija službenice PTT (Love Affair; or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, 1967) has a similar thematic preoccupation but also foreshadows Makavejev's future films by foregrounding the sexual side of the affair between a switchboard operator and a rat exterminator. Stylistically, the film bears Makavejev's trademarks: nonlinear narrative, collage of associative images, documentary and pseudo-documentary footage, and "scientific" lectures by a sexologist and a criminologist.
Makavejev's breakthrough and international recognition came with W.R.—Misterije organizma (W.R.—Mysteries of the Organism, 1971), a film that he described as "a fantasy on the fascism and communism of human bodies, the political life of human genitals, a proclamation of the pornographic essence of any system of authority and power over others." Shot in the United States and Yugoslavia, the film juxtaposed a documentary on the life of Wilhelm Reich, including his theories of sexual repression and liberation, with a story of a young woman who tries to introduce "free love" in socialist Yugoslavia. Followed by controversy, the film was withdrawn from domestic distribution and shelved for sixteen years; also, Makavejev was forced to work abroad because of political pressures.
His next film, the international co-production Sweet Movie (1974), proved even more controversial because of its biting double critique of Western consumerist values and of the degeneration of Eastern European communism. The film's sexually explicit nature offended Western audiences and was denounced by many critics. Thematically, Sweet Movie resembles W.R., but stylistically it explores the possibilities of Eisensteinian montage in combination with Belgrade surrealism. The film received almost no distribution and failed to launch the director's career in the West. Two of his subsequent projects, Montenegro eller Paerlor och Svin (Montenegro, Sweden, 1981) and The Coca-Cola Kid (Australia, 1985), were moderate commercial successes but did not match the critical achievements of his Yugoslav productions.
Čovek nije tica (Man Is Not a Bird, 1965), Ljubavni slučaj ili tragedija službenice PTT (Love Affair; or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, 1967), Nevinost bez zaštite (Innocence Unprotected, 1968), W.R.—Misterije organizma (W.R.—Mysteries of the Organism, 1971), Sweet Movie (1974), Montenegro eller Paerlor och Svin (Montenegro, 1981), The Coca-Cola Kid (1985), Manifesto (1988), Gorila se kupa u podne (Gorilla Bathes at Noon, Germany, 1993), Rupa u dusi (A Hole in the Soul, 1994)
Durgnat, Raymond. WR, Mysteries of the Organism. London: British Film Institute, 1999.
Goulding, Daniel J. "Makavejev." In Five Filmmakers: Tarkovsky, Forman, Polanski, Szabó, Makavejev, edited by Daniel J. Goulding, 209–263. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.
Muskavejev, Dusan. WR: Mysteries of the Organism. New York: Avon, 1972.
Vogel, Amos. Film as Subversive Art. New York: Random House, 1974.
Wood, Robin. "Dusan Makavejev." In Second Wave, edited by Ian Cameron, 7–33. New York: Praeger; London: Studio Vista, 1970.
Bohdan Y. Nebesio
the emergence of independent countries were followed by the development of separate film industries, each with its own systems of film financing and distribution. Each country also became responsible for its film education and national film festivals and for the creation of film culture reflecting its national traditions.
Bosnian feature film production began after World War II, and Sarajevo became a vital center of its film culture. Toma Janić (1922–1984) and Hajrudin Krvavac (1926–1992) were the most prolific directors throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In the late 1960s, former documentary filmmakers took the lead by contributing features in the novi film vein. Bata Čengić's (b. 1933) highly provocative, sarcastic look at Yugoslav society brought him to prominence but also earned official disapproval for his Uloga moje porodice u svetskoj revoluciji (The Role of My Family in the World Revolution, 1971) and Slike iz života udarnika (Scenes from the Life of a Shockworker, 1972). Boro Drašković (b. 1935) impressed critics with his debut, Horoskop (Horoscope, 1969), a small-town drama. Undoubtedly, the most acclaimed among Bosnian directors has been Emir Kusturica, who, ironically, distanced himself from Bosnia by maintaining a Yugoslav identity. Kusturica emerged during the 1980s in his native Sarajevo with coming-of-age films Sjećas li se, Dolly Bell? (Do You Remember Dolly Bell?, 1981) and the Cannes winner, When Father Was Away on Business (1985), as well as the critically acclaimed Dom za vešanje (Time of the Gypsies, 1989). In his early projects Kusturica collaborated closely with the Sarajevan poet and screenwriter Abdullah Sidran (b. 1944), who later wrote Savršeni krug (The Perfect Circle, 1996). Directed by Ademir Kenović, it was the first feature film produced in independent Bosnia. The Sarajevo Group of Authors (SaGA), formed during the siege of Sarajevo, chronicled the day-to-day life of the city and became the leading voice of Bosnian film when the conflict was over.
Although best-known internationally for its animation and documentaries, Croatia was also an important center of feature film production. Branko Marijanović (b. 1923) and Fedor Hanzeković (1913–1997) were among the directors of the first Croatian films after World War II, most often war films or historical adaptations of literary classics. Beginning in the 1950s, Croatian film production came mostly from Jadran Film Studio in Zagreb. Branko Bauer (1921–2002), best known for his Ne okreci se sine (My Son Don't Turn Round, 1956), and Krsto Papić (b. 1933), the director of Lisice (Handcuffs, 1970), were the most prolific directors at the time. One of the best-known Croatian animators, Vatroslav Mimica (b. 1923), also became a successful director of live-action films. Veljko Bulajić (b. 1928), who was one of the favorite directors of the Communist regime, directed many films in Croatia, including the historical epic Sarajevski Atentat (The Day That Shook the World, 1975). History and ethics were the main preoccupations of the two Croatian members of the Yugoslav Prague Group, Rajko Grlić (b. 1947) and Lordan Zafranović (b. 1944), who received international recognition for visually striking dramas. However, after the war they continued their careers abroad. Branko Schmidt, Davor Zmegac, and Jakov Sedlar belong to the youngest generation of Croatian filmmakers, as does Vinko Brešan (b. 1964), whose satirical look at the ethnic conflict in Kako je počeo rat na mom otoku (How the War Started on My Island, 1996) and Maršal (Marshal Tito's Spirit, 1999) brought him immediate domestic and international recognition.
Macedonian film production since World War II has been centered around Vardar Films in Skopje. Although most of its output has consisted of documentaries and shorts, the studio has managed to release some forty feature films since 1947. Frosina (Vojislav Nanović, 1952) is considered to be the first Macedonian postwar feature. Many Macedonian films dealt with the nation's complex history. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Žika Mitroví (1921–2005) and Trajče Popov (b. 1923) made a number of films based on historical events. Local legends and rich folk traditions were also often used as sources of original stories. Ljubisa Georgijevski's (b. 1937) Cenata na gradot (Price of the Town, 1970) and Planinata na gnevot (The Mountain of Wrath, 1968) are good examples of this tendency. Other Macedonian directors of note prior to independence were Dimitrije Osmanli (1927–2006) and Kiril Cenevski (b. 1943). The most active during the 1980s and 1990s was Stole Popov (b. 1950), who came to prominence with documentaries about the Roma and several critically acclaimed features such as Srećna nova, '49 (Happy New Year, 1949, 1986) and, more recently, Gypsy Magic (1997). Antonio Mitrikeski's debut, Preku ezeroto (Across the Lake, 1997), an interethnic love story, deserves a mention Mitrovic among a handful of films produced in the last decade. Milcho Manchevski (b. 1960) is the best known Macedonian director in the West, whose drama on ethnic rivalries, Pred dozhdot (Before the Rain, 1994), received worldwide distribution after winning the Venice Film Festival.
The largest and most politically influential republic of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia has had a well-developed film culture centered in Belgrade, including several production companies as well as national educational, archival, and publishing institutions. While films by Dušan Makavejev and Aleksandar Petrović are well-regarded in the West, Serbia has been home to many auteurs. Surrealist-inspired Puriša Dorlević was a very prolific director, with some fifty features to his credit, and a major contributor to novi film, a tendency in filmmaking with its center in Belgrade. The directors representing the so-called Black Wave, Živojin Pavlović and Želimir Žilnik, were based there, as well as several members of the Prague Group who established themselves in the 1980s: Goran Marković, Srdjan Karanović, and Goran Paskaljeví. Other directors of this generation particularly active during the 1980s were Miloš Radivojević, Jovan Aćin (Bal na vodi [Hey, Babu Riba, 1986]), Slobodan Šijan, Branko Baletić and Boro and Drašković (Vukovar—jedna priča [Vukovar—poste restante, 1994]).
Film production as well as film culture in Serbia begun to flourish in the 1990s despite enduring periods of war and considerable destruction to its infrastructure. Many established directors returned to Belgrade to complete their projects, and a new generation of filmmakers began to emerge. They initially focused on documenting the interethnic conflict and the war but soon turned to fictional works concerned with the trauma of the Yugoslav breakup and the social and economic decline of Serbia. Srdjan Dragojević belongs to the youngest generation of Serbian directors who attracted critical attention. His Lepa sela lepo gore (Pretty Village, Pretty Flame, 1996) is a witty antiwar film. Other directors of note who successfully launched their careers during this period include Oleg Novković, Gorčin Stojanović, and Mirjana Vukomanoví with her Tri letnja dana (Three Summer Days, 1997). In Montenegro, Levćen Film was responsible for most of the film production. Its first film, Zle pare (Cursed Money, 1956), was directed by Velimir-Velja Stojanović. Zdravko Velimirović directed Dan četrnaesti (The Fourteenth Day, 1960) and Derviš i smrt (The Dervish and the Death, 1974). Other noted Montenegrin directors are Boško Bosković, Milo Djukanović, and Živko Nikolić.
Despite its relatively small size, and with a population of less than two million, Slovenia developed a distinctive film culture within Yugoslavia and after gaining independence. Building on its strong cinematic tradition going back to the turn of the twentieth century, post-World War II Slovene cinema brought international recognition for Yugoslavia. In the 1940s and 1950s France Štiglic (1919–1993) won numerous awards at film festivals and Jože Gale (1913–2004) was recognized for his feature-length children's films. The "new wave" tendencies were best represented by Boštjan Hladnik (b. 1929) and Matjaž Klopčič (b. 1934), whose films rejuvenated Slovene cinema with new themes and interesting visual styles. Karpo Aćimović-Godina (b. 1943) is often considered the most original Slovenian director, with a number of masterpieces that include the avant-garde Splav meduze (The Medusa Raft, 1980). Throughout the Yugoslav period, Slovenian cinema maintained stability, producing from four to five feature films per year. Since gaining independence, Slovenian film production has centered around the Slovenian Film Fund. At least three films made in the 1990s deserve mentioning: Felix (Božo Šprajc, 1996), Outsider (Andrej Košak, 1997), and Ekspres, Ekspres (Gone with the Train, Igor Šterk, 1996). Nikogaršnja zemlja (No Man's Land, 2001), a Slovenian co-production dealing with the Bosnian war and directed by Bosnian director Danis Tanović, was awarded the 2002 Academy Award® for best foreign film.
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Horton, Andrew. "The Rise and Fall of the Yugoslav Partisan Film: Cinematic Perceptions of a National Identity." Film Criticism 12, no. 2 (1987): 18–27.
——. "Yugoslavia: Multi-Faceted Cinema," in World Cinema since 1945. ed. William Luhr, New York: Ungar, 1987.
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——. "Kusturica's Underground: Historical Allegory or Propaganda?" Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 19, no. 1 (1999): 69–86.
——. "Women in New Balkan Cinema: Surviving on the Margins," Film Criticism 21, no. 2 (1996–97): 24–39.
Bohdan Y. Nebesio