Director: Zivojin Pavlovic
Production: Filmska Raedna Zajednica; running time: 78 minutes.
Screenplay: Zivojin Pavlovic, from his short story "Pavolvic's Legends" and another, "Po Treci Put," by Antonije Isakovic; photography: Milorad Jaksic-Fando; editor: Olga Skirigin; art director: Dragolub Ivkov; music: Archival.
Cast: Ivica Vivodic (Ivo); Milena Dravic (Milica); Severin Bijelic (Bunny); Slobodan Aligrudic (Jetic).
Awards: Golden Lion, Venice, 1969.
Variety (New York), 1969.
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The Ambush is the fifth feature film by Zivojin Pavlovic. When it appeared in 1969 it became one of the most controversial films of the Yugoslav Black Cinema. Pavlovic, who is also well known in Yugoslavia for his tightly written neo-realistic prose, based this film, which focuses on the gap between the ideals of the Socialist revolution at the end of World War II and the often brutal reality of the Stalinist period, on one of his own stories and another by Antonije Isakovic. It is a harsh view of the political and social climate in Yugoslavia after the war. The hero participates in a killing during the Revolution—but is then killed himself.
Pavlovic has forged his subject matter from raw material supplied by the first Yugoslav writer to call attention to the darker side of Tito's Partisan movement. Released but never distributed at home until very recently, the film was highly praised from the very beginning by those few Yugo-critics who managed to see it for both the purity of Pavlovic's style and the honesty of his subject matter. The film won the Golden Lion in Venice in 1969.
Pavlovic's influence on Yugoslav cinema has been profound. In a 1983 survey of ninety Yugoslav film critics, for instance, Pavlovic and Aleksander Petrovic were the only directors with three films listed among the top twenty Yugoslav films ever made. A graduate of the Academy of Applied Arts and Sciences in Belgrade in 1959, Pavlovic began his career as an amateur filmmaker. He made his feature debut in 1962, scripting and directing one part of a three part omnibus film Kapi, Vode, Ratnici (Raindrops Water Warriors). His story of an ex-con who returns home to find no one wishes to help him, foreshadowed Pavlovic's unswerving interest in outsiders living on the margins of society.