October 2011, arsenal cinema

YU GO Bandits!

RANI RADOVI, 1969

In his film THE DECLINE OF THE CENTURY: TESTAMENT L.Z. Lordan Zafranović says: "When opening a box of films from the past we open a book of infinite wisdom." The YU GO Bandits! film program shown in conjunction with the exhibition Spaceship Yugoslavia –The Suspension of Time (at NGBK from September 24 – October 30) talks about the pages of this book, about the treasures of a country and its history, even after its demise. Although at the beginning, film production in Yugoslavia was largely dictated by the communist regime and had to serve "agitprop" purposes, some very significant films emerged from this era. The Yugoslav partisan films reached their peak at the end of the 1960s and have since had their place in spectacular epic cinema. No other nation has translated the national liberation struggle into so many different genres, applying special authorial approaches and looking at the subject from so many different perspectives. In this season, the partisan films are supplemented by works of the "Black Wave" and by more recent films that deal with Yugoslavia from today's perspective. The terms "New Yugoslav Film" or "Black Wave" established themselves in the 1960s and the work of significant auteur-dissidents such as Dušan Makavejev and Želimir Žilnik soon won international acclaim. They described and criticized the shortcomings of society, demanded more socialism for the people and created filmic masterpieces. These directors are ideological partisans or bandits (as the fascists liked to call the partisans), and in their revival of the anti-fascist point of view their films are still pertinent today. This season invites viewers to reconsider this and the whole complexity of socialist Yugoslavia. All the films will be introduced by the curator Vedrana Madžar.

NE OKREĆI SE SINE (My Son Don't Turn Around, Branko Bauer, YU 1956, October 6, Introduced by Miranda Jakiša) An unforgettable film in the history of Yugoslav cinema that combines elements of the thriller and of drama. The partisan Neven Novak escapes from a train that is en route for a concentration camp and tries to rescue his son Zoran from a fascist orphanage in Zagreb. However, the boy has been indoctrinated by fascist ideology and refuses to escape with his father into the partisans' territory. At the same time, the circle of agents and the fascist police closes around Novak.

USTANAK U JASKU (Uprising in Jaska, Želimir Žilnik, YU 1972, October 7) This short documentary is about those who launched the revolution. The inhabitants of a village remember the early days of the partisan movement and its actions. Žilnik shows how the transformation in the interpretation of the war from collective to individual consciousness.

BITKA NA NERETVI (The Battle of Neretva, Veljko Bulajić, YU 1969, October 7, Introduced by Gal Kin) is the most spectacular epic about Yugoslavia's partisans, telling a real-life story. The battle of the Neretva, codenamed "Fall Weiss", was a German strategic plan for a combined Axis attack on the Yugoslav partisans launched in 1943. The "battle for the wounded" was known in the Republic of Yugoslavia for being a humane battle. The film features a plethora of international stars, including Curd Jürgens, Yul Brynner, Hardy Krüger, Franco Nero, Orson Welles, Sylva Koscina and Sergei Bondarchuk.

The multi-award winning short documentary RATNIČE VOLJNO! (Soldier, Go Away! Krsto Škanata, YU 1967, October 8) is based on the true story of an old communist and seasoned partisan 20 years after the end of the war.

KAD ČUJEŠ ZVONA (When you Hear the Bells, Antun Vrdoljak, YU 1969, October 8) The Partisan commissar Vjeko is sent to a village and given the task of bringing his wild troop of partisans to order. While he tries to fulfill his task, the partisans are involved in a constant battle with the neighboring village that is controlled by local traitors and fascist collaborators. Confronted with the horror of war, Vjeko understands that politics, diplomacy and decency sometimes have very little value.

The short video film PARTISAN SONGSPIEL: A BELGRADE STORY (Olga Egorova, Chto Delat, Serbia 2009, October 12) depicts the social and political state of affairs in Serbia today, a situation that has consequences for the other states of former Yugoslavia. A chorus of dead partisans observes and passes comments on the political dialogue between those who oppress and those who are oppressed.

BOMBAŠI (Predrag Goluboviç, YU 1973, October 12) is about two friends who were both bombers in the partisan army, destroying fortifications and bunkers in guerilla actions during the war. BOMBAŠI is a typical example of the way the Western and Japanese samurai film influenced Yugoslav partisan films.

RANI RADOVI (Early Works, Želimir Žilnik YU 1969, October 13) Žilnik's feature debut won the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival in 1969. It is about five young people who want to put the revolution into practice: After the student demonstrations of 1968 they go into the rural parts of Serbia and begin a "back to Marx" campaign. "A rare example of real political filmmaking which goes beyond daily political questions and deals with the contradictions of all forms of social commitment." (Christoph Huber)

W. R. – MISTERJE ORGANIZMA (WR – Mysteries of the Orgasm, Dušan Makavejev, YU 1971, October 13, Introduced by Miranda Jakiša) was inspired by the teachings of the psychoanalyst and sexologist Wilhelm Reich and examines the relationship between sex and politics. A young pretty Yugoslav-Marxist beautician falls in love with a Soviet figure skating champion and loses her head – both literally and figuratively! WR pushed back the borders of international cinema, combining elements of the philosophical essay, political circus, grotesque sci-fi and documentary. It was officially banned in socialist Yugoslavia.

U RATU I REVOLUCIJI (Ana Bilankov, Croatia 2011, October 14) is a short video about personal and politically-motivated collective amnesia regarding the political changes and war that took place in Croatia at the beginning of the 1990s.

ZALAZAK STOLJEČA: TESTAMENT L.Z. (The Decline of the Century: Testament L.Z. Lordan Zafranoviç, Croatia / Czech Republic / Austria / F 1994, October 14 in the presence of Lordan Zafranoviç) is a fascinating documentary-montage-epic that tells the story of the fascist Croatian state from 1941 to 1945 and depicts the trial against the former minister of the interior Andrija Artukoviç. It also draws parallels with the aggressive nationalism that emerged in the 1990s after the collapse of Yugoslavia.

A video program curated by Nataša Tepavčević that comprises works by Lutz Becker, Marina Gržinic, Aina Smid, Zoran Todorović, Damir Nikšić, Sebastjan Leban, Staš Kleindienst, Driton Hajredini, Eduard Freudmann, Jelena Radić, Alban Muja and the group of artists Apsolutno will be on show in the Red Foyer throughout the season.. (Vedrana Madžar)

The curator Nataša Tepavčević will give an introduction to the video program in the Red Foyer on Sunday, October 9, at 5 pm (in English, free admission)

A publication about the films will be on display at the box office.

In cooperation with the NGBK