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20 Essential Films for an Introduction to Yugoslavian Cinema

Once upon a time there was a country, and that country made films. The films produced in the former Yugoslavia remain fascinating for anyone interested in the country or in films. This list is by no means definitive, for Yugoslav cinema is too rich and varied for that. It is rather, a primer for those unfamiliar with the region, the best bits from each era and each generation.



 

During the 60s, when the country was buoyed by an economic high, they even regular commercial and critical success; the country became a regular location for film scouts all across Hollywood due to its cheaper labour and wide geographic variety.

The country’s socialist dictator, Josip Broz Tito, more genial, liberal and significantly less brutal than his equivalents across the rest of Communist Eastern Europe himself was a great fan of films, and commissioned war films that promoted the actions of his Partisans against the Nazis in World War II.

Able to afford Western stars, these films, at various times, starred such names as Orson Welles, Yul Brynner, and even Richard Burton, and their budgets and scale easily matched and sometimes far surpassed their Hollywood equivalents.

Elsewhere, the roots of cinematic protest began to take charge. Inspired by the rule-breaking and anarchistic methods of the French New Wave, the Yugoslav Black Wave emerged alongside similar movements in Czechoslovakia and Poland. These directors, the most notable of which were Dušan Makavejev, Aleksander Petrović and Zelimir Zilnik, worked with low-budgets and little equipment to produce brave, inventive guerrilla films that even in a comparatively liberal communist country often fell afoul of the censors.

Despite the best efforts of the authorities, their influence lived on and found good ground in the following generation, which also produced Yugoslavia’s most internationally acclaimed and arguably most controversial director, Emir Kusturica. One of the few to win not one but two Palme D’or’s at Cannes, his films remain wildly inventive formally whilst often very tricky to navigate thematically.

The arrival of the wars and the breakup of Yugoslavia severely damaged the country’s filmmaking capabilities. Despite that, the directors, actors, and crews all soldiered on.

After the war in Bosnia finished in 1995, the film industry began its slow recovery. The authoritarian control of supposedly democratic Serbia and Croatia meant that both produced more than their share of horrible nationalist films that promoted ethnic violence, but nevertheless, good, nuanced films slipped through, and a new generation of filmmakers began to find their feet.

In Bosnia, ravaged by war more than any other nation, the recovery took slower, but its post-war films have arguably been the strongest; in 2001, No Man’s Land by Bosnian Danis Tanovic became the first film from the region, both before and post-breakup, to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Although there are now a multitude of separate film industries across what was once the former Yugoslavia, with the war a very recent, very lived memory for many filmmakers, that has not stopped collaboration. The once multiethnic identity of being a Yugoslav has not subsided onscreen, and it is not uncommon to see actors portraying different identities onscreen: a Bosnian being a Serb, a Croatian being a Bosnian, and so on. The war is an unsurprisingly common theme in modern post-Yugoslav cinema, but it is a very fertile one.

This list, is by no means definitive, for Yugoslav cinema is too rich and varied for that. It is rather, a primer for those unfamiliar with the region, the best bits from each era and each generation. May the next one be every bit as good as those before!

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Jana Kujundžić: Mi, one od nekada

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR

Jana Kujundžić (1990.) diplomirala je sociologiju na Hrvatskim studijima u Zagrebu i masterirala rodne studije (Gender studies,) na Central European Universityju u Budimpešti. Osim kratkih priča piše i feminističke kritike događanja u Hrvatskoj i u svijetu kao i kritike filmova i serija za portale Libela i Voxfeminae.

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Paula Ćaćić: Franzenova 'Sloboda'

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR

S dvije kratke priče u širi izbor ušla je i Paula Ćaćić (1994., Vinkovci), studentica indologije i južnoslavenskih jezika i književnosti na Filozofskom fakultetu u Zagrebu. Uz nagrađivane kratke priče i poeziju, Ćaćić piše i novinske tekstove za web portal VOXfeminae.

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Sven Popović: Ljubav među žoharima (Iz rukopisa)

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR

S prva tri ulomka romana u rukopisu Svena Popovića, započinjemo objavljivanje šireg izbora nagrade ''Sedmica&Kritična masa 2017''.
Popović (1989., Zagreb) je diplomirao komparativnu književnost i engleski jezik i književnost te amerikanistiku na zagrebačkom Filozofskom fakultetu. Književni prvijenac „Nebo u kaljuži“ (Meandarmedia) objavljuje 2015. Jedan je od osnivača „TKO ČITA?“, programa namjenjenog mladim autorima. Priče su mu uvrštene u „Best European Fiction 2017“ (Dalkey Archive Press). Živi i ne radi u Zagrebu.

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Maja Jurica: Miris biskvita

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR

Maja Jurica (1990., Split) studentica je hrvatskoga jezika i književnosti na Filozofskom fakultetu u Zadru.

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Anita Vein Dević: Ulomak iz romana 'Ukradeno djetinjstvo'

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR

Anita Vein Dević (1987., Karlovac) magistrirala je na Fakultetu za menadžment u turizmu i ugostiteljstvu. Piše poeziju, kratke priče, i nastavak romana „Ukradeno djetinjstvo“.

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Martin Majcenović: Medvjeđa usluga

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR

Martin Majcenović (1990.) diplomirao je kroatistiku i lingvistiku na Filozofskom fakultetu u Zagrebu. Kratka proza objavljivana mu je između ostalog i u Zarezu, Autsajderskim fragmentima, Booksi... Sudjelovao je u užim izborima na natječajima za kratku priču Broda kulture (2013. i 2016.) i FEKP-a (2014.) Član je Književne grupe 90+, a piše za portal Ziher.hr.

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Marija Solarević: Itinerar

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR

Marija Solarević (1987., Zagreb) diplomirala je pedagogiju i etnologiju s kulturnom antropologijom na Filozofskom fakultetu u Zagrebu, osvajila je MetaFora nagradu u organizaciji Knjižnice Vladimira Nazora, u Centru za kreativno pisanje pohađa radionice i stvara kolumnu o književnosti i pop-kulturi. Trenutno piše zbirku kratkih priča "Noćne ptice".

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