Experimentation of Anyone — Part II

Experimentation of Anyone — Part II
Divna Jovanović

Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Experimental Film (1958-Nowadays) curated by Ivana Momčilović

We continue with the second part of the program Experimentation of Anyone – Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Experimental Films, presented from November 26 to December 26, 2020.

In the first selection, we were able to see what seemed to be incompatible parts of the Yugoslav amateur filmmaking past. On one side, the pearl of the Yugoslav documentary First Case- Man (Škanata), and on the other, three experimental “classics” by amateur Ante Verzotti. Nevertheless, all these films are the product of a time which, through a non-professional camera – and beyond the usual celebrations of births, birthdays or the eternizations of tourist excursions typical of “home cinema” –  meditates upon emerging society and its cracks, in search of its own cinematic language.

In this new selection of 7 films, we continue to relive the past “frame by frame”. In her book Communal Luxury, Kristin Ross says that “the past is unpredictable” and observes the events of the Paris Commune from a new perspective. Looking into the “present past” of an era, this time through its amateur experimental films, brings to the presence an eternity of themes that amaze with their topicality, showing that the supposed anachronism often hides actuality. The seven films which will be available from November 26 to December 26 bring new perspectives on cinema as thought and amateur experimentation by all as a premise of emancipation and liberation.

Divna Jovanović (1939-1991), Transformation (Preobražaj), SFR Yugoslavia, 1973, color, 3′

In Transformation, the poetic legacy of costume designer Divna Jovanović is complemented by experimental interventions directly made upon the film, such as celluloid scraping (rotoscopy), coloring or even inlaying secret messages from her previous films (1960 and 1963). The masterful transformation, at the beginning of the film, of the Yugoslav flag into a communist and proletarian flag (with a proletarian star), then finally into a red flag of love (a heart appears instead of a five-pointed star), reveals a message of necessary metamorphosis from national and state attributes to the society of the future: that of generic communism. The ubiquitous scribbled hearts of Divna Jovanović, ranging from the childish drawings of first loves to the “official” emblem of the historic red flag of the proletariat, takes the symbols of communism back to the original “utopia” – the idea of a society based on equality, which carries a message of peace and ultimate love. Love – represented through the symbol of first loves and awkwardly drawn hearts – also seems to be perceived by Divna Jovanović in a more generic sense: representing the vital functions of the muscular organ that breathes life into people on Earth, through a harmonized rhythm of contractions and the injection of essential oxygen. All these topics, from ecology to the re-examination of the role of women in the institution of marriage (and of the bride), make the poetic-political oath of Divna Jovanović more relevant than ever.

 

Ranko Kursar (1940 – 2004), Cafe Manon, SFR Yugoslavia  (Kino Klub Split), 1967, digital format (originally 8mm then 35mm), c/b, 9′ 20

The impulsive camera (Andrej Pivčević) captures the frenetic rhythm of the work of the waitresses in the crowded summer terrasse of the Cafe Manon at the Split bus station. The accelerated movements of the workers and the passive position of the guests at the Cafe Manon reveal a clear gap between leisure/pleasure (guests) and the frenesia of work (waitresses) which become two sides of the same problem: work and leisure in correlation with  mobility and immobility. The film carries a subtle note referring to workers’ emancipation, expressed through the imaginary torn page of a diary that belongs to a working girl in charge of an alienating job, speaking about the dream of “another” life.

Ivan Martinac, I’M MAD, 1967, normal 8mm, color, 6min 30sec, music – Max Roach, starring – Ranko Kursar

A film that, in the time of abandoned and deserted spaces due to coronavirus, gets a special reading. Martinac juxtaposes the idea of immobility that accompanies a single visitor, Ranko Kursar (another amateur director from which two films are presented in the selection), on the terrace of a cafe in Split during winter time, facing a bunch of empty chairs and the music of a famous American experimental percussionist Maxwell Lemuel Roach (a pioneer of musical style bebop and generally considered as one of the most important drummers in history). His drum improvisation evokes the sound of a fast train, opening up to a new coordination of mind mobility. In this film Martinac touches a real-world situation — a man sitting on an empty restaurant terrace in winter — and rhythmically changing the perspectives of the gaze: restaurant furniture and interior travels become different perspectives while thinking on the actual state of  global “ immobility”.