Photography by Ivana Todorović
POST-YUGOSLAV „BLACK WAVE “ IN BREST
Between 5 and 11 October, in Brest, Brittany, the 13th Intergalactic Alternative Image Festival (Festival Intergalactique de L'images alternative) took place. In its thirteenth edition it was dedicated to alternative cinematic creativity in the Balkans, that is, on the territory of former Yugoslavia. This festival differs from other mainstream conceptual revues, first of all, by its activist character resulting from the working methods of the organization Canal Ti Zef – The Independent Video in Brest which asks for alternative film images and different approaches to reality in diverse regions of Europe. The activists of this organization have themselves traveled through the lands of former Yugoslavia in order to get an insight into social situations, authors and their films as well as local institutions and festivals. Such a thorough and profound interest in film as well as social state of affairs in which authorial works are being created is very unusual and it bespeaks the value of an activist approach to society and art. This is the reason why, for sure, the achievements of Brest Festival are more complex and profound – and their reach further - than those of conventional film revues, whether national or international, which mostly regard works of art at the level of their language and formal aesthetic meaning while the social aspect does not only elude them but is very often undesirable. The same stands for the attitude towards authors and authorship which is presently reduced to the manufacturer/market ratio by the mainstream commercial culture. But the activists of the Canal Ti Zef in Brest are building their festival upon authors’ interactions, discussions, socializing and common self-organization. One of the more spectacular results of the Intergalactic Alternative Image Festival in Brest is a specific renewal of Yugoslav film, most of all, of alternative film, i. e., the film of social criticism which was known, at the time of socialist Yugoslavia, by the name “Black Wave.” The appearance of a new Yugoslav “Black Wave” in Brest (that is, linking and simultaneous presentation of the post-Yugoslav “Black Wave”) is a testimony of vitality and continuity of the authorial film in post-Yugoslavia. (The expression “authorial film” denotes a specific author’s view freed from stereotyped thinking so that it is akin to the expression “critical film” since no freedom from stereotypes is possible without critical thinking). Many critics consider “Black Wave” as a historical phenomenon though there used to be and still there are authors, like Želimir Žilnik, who have gone on being authors of critical or authorial film even in the days of the “Red Wave” (of the socialist Hollywood) or even later, up to now, thus defying the concept of a temporary, historical character of the “Black Wave” and confirming the critical and authorial film as firmly implanted in the regions of former Yugoslavia.
In this context, the 13th Intergalactic Alternative Image Festival is a place of revelation, awakening and verification of a new post-Yugoslav “Black Wave” which we, authors of the critical film, have not been fully aware of due to the circumstances of general decay, wars and the state’s disintegration. In Brest, though, we have seen some valuable works in the spirit of the “Black Wave” created by authors belonging to various generations, namely:
Kristina Rizoska (1991), Macedonia - “Prologue”, 4 min, 2012
Sashko Potter Micevski (1990), Macedonia - “(Extra)terrestrial Lee”, 21 min, 2012
Elena Avdija (1987), Kosovo/Switzerland - “Is It Better Here or There?”, 33 min, 2013
Ognjen Glavonić (1985), Serbia - “Živan Makes a Punk Festival, 63 min, 2013
Nika Autor (1982), Slovenia - “Report on the Situation of Asylum Seekers in Republic of Slovenia January 2008-August 2009”, 37 min, 2010
Đuro Gavran (1982), Croatia - ”The Big Day”, 11 min, 2013
Ivana Todorović (1979), Serbia, “When I Was a Boy, I Was a Girl”, 30 min, 2013
Dimitar Anakiev (1960) Serbia/Slovenia, - “Slovenia My Homeland”, 50 min, 2012
The characteristic of this group of authors is an independent and unaffected attitude to reality. The topics they deal with are “student’s life” (Rizoska), “escapism – provincial state of mind (Micevski), “attitude towards tradition and the past” (Avdija), “life in poverty” (Glavonić), “asylum seekers” (Autor), “tribal nationalism – provincial state of mind” (Gavran), “sexual liberties in provincial society” (Todorović), “erased – chauvinism as ideology of capitalist transition” (Anakiev). What is eye-catching is scarcity of those from the generation of the sixties and seventies whose authorship took place at the time of the war in Yugoslavia; however, the author’s continuity was still upheld throughout the disintegration. A dominant expressive form of this group of authors is a portrait which Glavonić expands into a story about an event while Anakiev interweaves two portraits into a story about the erased and Gavran creates some sort of collective portrait. The approach to the protagonists is, with Glavonić, Torodović and Anakiev, interactive – similar to that of a feature film – with the director participating in the creation of his protagonist’s situation while the majority of the others opt for an “objective” approach within which, still, various subjective processes are taking place. Thus, for instance, Avdija in her documentary inserts a family video material which deepens her theme. Obviously, the author’s truthfulness is not at all brought into question by the author’s creativity. The heroes appearing in the works of the critical authors are, as a rule, so-called “small people” through whom the authors speak about their own times. Mostly the authors opt for a realistic approach to their themes and protagonists though some of them still turn to stylization which, in the case of Rizovska, Micevski and Glavonić, takes the form of a discreet dose of humor which makes easier to access the theme. Somewhat older authors, like Anakiev and Todorović, already possess an established authorial continuity while the other authors are yet to further confirm their authorial affiliations.
At the 13th Intergalactic Alternative Image Festival also shown are documentary films about the happenings on the territory of former Yugoslavia made by foreign directors as well as those of home authors which could not be ranked in the category of critical (or authorial) film. These films are posited as a mirror to the authors of post-Yugoslav “Black Wave” and thus they enable a complex insight into Yugoslav reality. But, why aren’t films like “Cinema Communisto”, “Zabrđe, A Village Without Women”, “Cosmo” or “I Am Here!” ranked as alternative films but as those of the mainstream tendency? The reason is that the authors, instead of their independent view of the theme, use a certain ideological position, a certain stereotyped worldview, no matter if it is the matter of adulating the ideology of nationalism, dealing with the theme sensationally or commercially or affirming certain politics.
The activists of Canal Ti Zef have put together an intricate mosaic of Yugoslav film in post-Yugoslavia in their attempts to understand social developments as well as to show a variety of cinematic tendencies which is of historical importance for our region. The 13th Intergalactic Alternative Image Festival is a true festival of Balkan and Breton culture that was given a special impression by likewise high-quality music programs in which the performers of the Balkan music were Bretons (along with the presentation of 33 films and many discussion sessions, 6 concerts were held). The interaction of Bretons and Balkan people through film, music and common self-organization have, to sum up, left an indelible impression of friendship and mutual understanding which is, after all, a mission of art.