Experimentation of Anyone — Part IV

Experimentation of Anyone — Part IV
Miroslav Bata Petrović, Tatjana Ivančić, Nikola Đurić, Bojana Vujanović, Doplgenger

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

In the fourth and final part of the program Experimentation of anyone – Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Experimental Film (1958-present), we see that history, which in Yugoslav amateur and experimental films is intertwined, connected, and rebuilt through the multiple visions of amateur filmmakers, is shaped in the form of a common memory.

This final selection includes one of the most hidden films from the amateur cinema world, made by Miroslav Bata Petrović. It also includes two films made by Tatjana Ivančić and Bojana Vujanović, both connected to cinema clubs in Zagreb and Belgrade, as well by a visual poem made by Nikola Đurić, associate of the Academic Film Club, Belgrade. The last film was made in 2012 by the duo Doplegenger.

This fourth part therefore concludes the program Experimentation of Anyone which has involved the presentation a total of 20 films, dating from 1958 to 2012, all gathered by dramaturge Ivana Momčilović. This program, taking place between September 2020 and April 2021, constructs a parallel past for Yugoslavia’s, recorded forever on celluloid tapes. Unlike history, that is a consummated past which ends in cold academic objectivism, the Yugoslav past seen in the emancipatory and modernist experience of amateur cinema continues to build on and grow through the poetry of each subjective and rediscovered amateur frame. To be continued…

1. Only for Sava Trifković (Samo za Savu Trifkovića), 1998, Miroslav Bata Petrović 35 mm, b / w / sepia, 12’; production: Fix Focus Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia
This film by Miroslav Bata Petrović is one of the most hidden films in amateur cinema, which likely had only one spectator in its time (cinephile Sava Trifković). After the state collapsed in 1991, Petrović reconstructs the memory of the common country of Yugoslavia in a unique way through his film. It is indeed a treasure trove of names and places where gatherings of Yugoslav amateurs were held, while the second level presents a series of lumi-subtitles (an old technique of translation where letters were directly included in the celluloid film) coming from “Jugoslavija film”, which, analyzed photogram by photogram, witnesses a sort of palimpsest of hidden messages of a tragic period in time in which emancipatory ideas collapsed. The film includes enumeration blocks listed below:

Enumeration block I: Cameras with which amateur and alternative films were shot in  SFR Yugoslavia from 1950-1990
Pentaka, Bolie, Quartz, Neva, Sekonik, Yashica, Canon, Bauer, Admira, Paillard Bolex, Bell & Howell, Eumig
Block II: Places in the SFR Yugoslavia where the cinema clubs and festivals of amateur and alternative film  existed and where authors from all over the country occasionally hung out
Maribor, Jesenice, Celje, Ljubljana, Koper, Pula, Rijeka, Split, Zadar, Zagreb, Osijek, Samobor, Sombor, Subotica, Bačka Topola, Novi Sad, Pančevo, Omoljica, Belgrade, Zaječar, Niš, Leskovac, Kosovska Mitrovica, Sarajevo , Konjic, Zenica, Titograd, Tivat, Kumanovo, Skopje, Bitola
Block III: Authors of the First and Second Generations of amateur cinematography in SFRY Yugoslavia (after World War II), who appeared in the period 1950 – 1970
Marko Babac, Dragoljub Ivkov, Dušan Makavejev, Žika Pavlović, Kokan Rakonjac, Aleksandar Petković, Mihailo Ilić, Aleksandar Antonić, Adam Mitić, Petar Blagojević, Boštijan Hladnik, Ivan Martinac, Branko Milošević, Petar Latinović, Želimir Žilnik, Prvoslav Marić, Dragoslav Lazić, Nemanja Budisavljević, Karpo Godina, Mihovil Pansini, Željko Hajdler, Vlado Petek, Lordan Zafranović, Dragan Kresoja, Milan Jelić, Tomislav Gotovac, Ivan Rakidžić, Vladimir Momčilović, Amir Hadžidedić, Mirko Komosar, Aleksandar Stasenko
Block IV: Authors of the III generation (1970 – 1975)
Janez Hrovat, Jože Perko, Franci Slak, Marjan Hodak, Miroslav Mikuljan, Željko Radivoj, Ivica Matić, Vesko Kadić, Ivan Pandek, Ivan Obrenov, Đorđe Deđanski, Milorad Uzelac, Ivko Šešić, Nikola Đurić, Milorad Glušica, Miodrag Tarana, Miša Avramović, Milenko Jovanović, Bojana Vujanović, Rade Vladić, Sveta Novaković, Ivan Petković, Milutin Janković, Dragoljub Atanacković, Dragiša Krstić, Biljana Belić, Slobodan Mičić, Mihajlo Krunić, Rale Zelenović, Golub Bežunar, Nikola Ćirić, Ivan Kaljević, Vesna Vidojević, Ljupče Janković, Braca Radulović, Matjas Žbontar, Petar Trinaestić, Žejko Luković, Dušan Tasić, Branko Karabatić, Krsto Tomičić, Momir Matović, Artur Hoffman, Miloje Radaković, Zorica Kijevčanin, Miša Milošević, Rade Buncić, Predrag Bambić, Neško Despotović, Petar Jakonić Nebojša Barbir, Duško Ševo, Vladimir Stanić, Buca Lupa, Miša Savković, Stefan Sidovski, Milivoje Unuković
Block V: Authors from 1975 to 1990.
Slobodan Valentinčić, Janko Virant, Mišo Čoh, Davorin Marc, Danijel Dozet, Erol Čolaković, Sanjin Mirić, Sead Džikić, Zdenko Karačić, Petar Magazin, Nikola Grujić, Zoltan Šifliš, Dragan Latinović, Slobodan Đorđević, Bojan Jovanović, Marjan Tošić, Dejan Vlaisavljević, Igor Toholj, Zoran Saveski, Slobodan Djordjevic, Nebojsa Ruzic, Zoran Popović, Neša Paripović, Slavka Šefer, Marija Savin, Slavica Tanasijević, Branka Tanasijević, Zoran Veljković, Marko Karadžić, Dragan Štiglić, Milčo Mančevski, Dragan Tanasijević, Ljubomir Šimunić, Branislav Štrboja, Miloš Savić
Block VI: Film critics, professional filmmakers and societal workers who supported and followed Yugoslav amateur and alternative film from 1950 to 1990
Dušan Stojanović, Velja Stojanović, Miša Radivojević, Ranko Munitić, Toni Tršar, Nikola Stojanović, Joca Jovanović, Nikola Lorencin, Miša Novaković, Duško Dimitrovski, Božidar Zečević, Vlada Petrić, Branko Vučićević, Voja Lukić, Mika Putnik, Vera Robić, Tufo Busatlić, Dragan Tošić, Vlada Bjelić, Vlada Anđelković The author Miroslav Bata Petrovic addresses the only spectator (Sava Trifkovic)
The author Miroslav Bata Petrovic addresses the only spectator (Sava Trifkovic)
– Sava, are you still there? …
– Me too!
Who is Sava Trifković?
Architect and film analyst. He was a member of the first generation of the Belgrade Cinema Club (Kino Klub Beograd), and to this day he has remained a faithful companion and analyst of amateur and alternative films. He did not write about films, but many of his oral discussions and analyses of films during the work of many juries, in which he was a member, or in public tribunes, were recorded. He made one, albeitt anthological, amateur film “Hands of Purple Distances” (“Ruke ljubičastih daljina”) (1962).
How did this film title come about?
It was when I told my wife that I intended to make a Yugo-nostalgic film, in which I would only list the brands of cameras with which Yugoslav amateur and alternative films were made from 1950 to 1990, then the cities and places that had strong cinema clubs where we were gathered occasionally, either as guests or at festivals organized in them. Well, then, I wanted to mention all the authors of all generations to whom, for the most part, I was a friend, and finally all those who supported our (non-professional) film movement, among them some professional film workers, film critics, theorists, and journalists. She asked me:
And who will watch this film?
I answered her: If no one else, then only Sava Trifkovic! To this she added: Well, let then your movie be called “Only for Sava Trifković”! And, I listened to her.
Miroslav Bata Petrović, for program in Geneva,(Belgrade, February 2021)

2. The Greatest Day (Najveći dan), Tatjana Ivančić colour, SFR Yugoslavia, 8mm + digitalized, 8’26’’, 1979
Tatjana Ivančic (1913-1986), a lawyer by profession, is among the filmmakers we presented, with another pearl from her legacy (The City in the Shop Window). In some ways, she shares a parallel destiny with Vivian Maier, a recently discovered amateur photographer who spent her life as an au pair in the USA, while creating an invaluable work of amateur street photography. Unlike other films in which Tatjana starts from the “miracle of everyday life”, from the hidden beauty of everything, in this film she follows a spectacular endeavor: the connection of two coasts, on the islands of Krk and in Kraljevica on the mainland in an impressive concrete arch (390 meters) of the emerging “Tito Bridge”(signed by Ilija Stojadinović and his collaborators Vukan Njagulj and Bojan Možina), which at the time of its construction (1979/80) surpassed the efforts of the famous Sydney Bridge arch. As the only woman among the builders, Tatjana Ivančić (once again a woman with a camera as in the 70 films she left behind) confirmed the bravery of her wandering gaze and her love for re-recorded and pre-composed landscapes with a camera she has kept since her 50s. On these beginnings of amateur cinema ventures, Petra Belc, “responsible” for the recent rediscovery of the work of Tatjana Ivančić, wrote that “her films were screened at numerous festivals throughout the region, but also at international competitions (Trieste, Berlin, Hiroshima), where Ivančić made notable film successes, going down in history as the only woman who also won the then title of Master of Amateur Film in SFR Yugoslavia”.

3) Vowels (Samoglasnici), Nikola Đurić, SFR Yugoslavia, 1973, 8 min, B&W/ color, 16mm transferred to Digital video
Nikola Đurić has long been the archivist of the Belgrade Cinema Club, but also an active amateur film maker. In the film Vowels (1973), based on the homonymous sonnet of Arthur Rimbaud (1871/2), Đurić uses the synesthetic and almost psychedelic potential of Rimbaud’s sonnet, translating it into a true visual poem with a new language and grammar that emerges before our eyes, together with the construction of new socialist society. The film has a double structure, it is shot in black and white but part of the found-footage is in color. The film ends with the found footage slogan “Socialism is the youth of the world”. Regarding Rimbaud’s poetry, each new reading is already an exercise in creating one’s own initiation into amateur eye cinematography and the creation of our own cinematographic language.

Arthur Rimbaud Vowels
Black A, white E, red I, green U, blue O: you vowels,
Someday I’ll tell the tale of where your mystery lies:
Black A, a jacket formed of hairy, shiny flies
That buzz among harsh stinks in the abyss’s bowels;
White E, the white of kings, of moon-washed fogs and tents,
Of fields of shivering chervil, glaciers’ gleaming tips;
Red I, magenta, spat-up blood, the curl of lips
In laughter, hatred, or besotted penitence;
Green U, vibrating waves in viridescent seas,
Or peaceful pastures flecked with beasts – furrows of peace
Imprinted on our brows as if by alchemies;
Blue O, great Trumpet blaring strange and piercing cries
Through Silences where Worlds and Angels pass crosswise;
Omega, O, the violet brilliance of Those Eyes!

4) Journey (Putovanje), Bojana Vujanović, SFR Yugoslavia, 1972,  2 min, num, 16 mm original, SD, color and b/w. Avec: Bogumila Milla
In contrast to the journey to the mineshaft with which this program started back in September (“The First Case: Man”, by Krsto Škanata), a few years later in this film, the “social elevator” leads a women to the spiral oniric journey “upwards”, in a society that searched equality in every segment of emancipation: women and men, manual and intellectual work, artistic and amateur cinema practices as important steps of human desalination.

Extract of Ivana Momčilović in conversation with Bojana Vujanović, February 2021:
Ivana Momčilović: What is your amateur cinema experience? From what year did you start cooperating and with which cinema club?
Bojana Vujanović: Although I enrolled at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade in 1968, my wish was to study film directing. One day I saw in the city the announcement of the Academic Cinema Club’s “amateur film school”, I applied and stayed in that club until I went to study film directing abroad (1975). As an amateur, I had complete freedom, and my creativity depended exclusively on my finance (I bore the costs of making my films).
IM: What is your memory of the woman’s role in cinema clubs?
BV: In movie clubs, we were all equal. I didn’t pay attention to who was a woman and who was a man. Equality existed in all fields – national, religious, political. At least in cinema clubs and my surroundings.
IM: What was your immediate inspiration for the movie “Journey”?
BV: In film art, I am primarily interested in the visual side and the movement. Story and acting are in the background. I often peeked into old buildings in Belgrade and their yards (there are dozens of rolls of 8mm unmounted material called “Belgrade that is disappearing” – I never finished that). An old elevator in a house on “Marx and Engels Square” immediately caught my attention. It was not enough for me to record it just as it “climbs”, but I also added the spiral movement of the camera, the “disappearance” of the passenger and the changing of the color film with black and white. It all came about spontaneously; at that time, my imagination was running smoothly.
IM: At the beginning of the film, you show modernist solitaires, and you place the plot of the film in a classicist elevator, a classicist “old building”. How do you explain that dialectic?
BV: I remember that I had something in mind when I shot solitaires in New Belgrade for the credits of that two-minute film. Now I don’t know exactly why, I think it was the contrast between those scenes, as well as “sorry for the old, good times”, when the elevators were hand-decorated and people didn’t live “on top of one another”. The “journey” was in line with the idea of “Belgrade disappearing”. Today, that elevator no longer exists, and the square changed its name to “Nikola Pasic”.

5) Untitled, Fragment #1, Doplgenger, Serbia, digital, color 2012, 6′50″

On the one hand, what I’m saying there applies to memory in general: it is always a selection, an articulation between fragments, a superimposition of non-synchronous temporal series. That is to say, it is always fiction, in the sense in which I intend it: the construction of a relationship between something visible and some meaning, between heterogeneous spaces and times. Jacques Rancière

In the text “La fiction documentaire : Marker et la fiction de mémoire” on the occasion of the memory of Chris Marker’s work on Alexander Medvedkin, the Soviet director of documentaries and fiction Jacques Rancière tells us about memory as a structure of fiction. Opening the issue of the documentary genre, which has the task of “preserving memory”, Rancière raises the backstory of historical discourse regarding looking at history through fiction. In one word, it is about “creating memory” rather than the desire to preserve it. “Memory is a work of fiction.” “Fingere ne veut pas dire d’abord feindre mais forger” (Jacques Rancière).

Doplgenger is an amateur artistic duo that researches the archival materials of the Yugoslav past and finds hidden layers and new traces for understanding our complex present within them. The archive images used in this film, when slowied down frame by frame, allow for a missing piece of one of the last shared moments in Yugoslav history to reappear: the moment just before a politician appears on stage to deliver a political speech which accelerated the disintegration of the country. The fragment follows a few seconds of slow-motion documentary material before Slobodan Milošević appears on stage to give a famous speech in Kosovo (Gazimestan) on June 28, 1989, better known as the “People’s Event”. The speech was transmitted on national Yugoslav television, and tens of thousands of people were present live. The slowdown allows for a new analysis of the visual material that all Yugoslavs know as a “commonplace”, as the speech of a man who triggered an avalanche of reaction. In the seconds before lowering the glass of water to the stage, with the invisible hands of the organizers, Doplgenger step out of the usual frame, building a completely new kaleidoscopic image of the audience, focusing on the other side: on the expectation and anxiety on the faces of spectators, showing among them various celebrities and social actors, including church representatives, who were very visible. Untitled, Fragment # 1, thus reveals in a very singular way a past which has never since elapsed within the post-Yugoslavian space, still today confronted with nationalist and religious frictions, far from the universalism of the Yugoslavian emancipatory and experimental project.