OSA | Visions after the Fall: Program

Visions after the Fall: Museums, Archives and Cinema in Reshaping Popular Perceptions of the Socialist Past

Nevena Dakovic: Out from the Past, Yugoslavia in fiction and non-fiction cinema

The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it is to explore the articulation, shaping/reshaping of the past in recent (ex)YU cinema. Second, it is to describe the work of documentaries inserted and incorporated into fictional texts (mainly but not exclusively) in terms of historiographic metafiction. Thus, two main modes and forms of the structuring of the past are linked with documentary (faction) and fiction films. The first refers to a number of "archive" documentaries about recent wars and turbulent historical events (such as The Last Revolution in Europe: October 5th and Vukovar final cut (2006, d. Janko Baljak), which uses material already seen in the French-American production Harrisons' Flowers (2000, d. Elie Chouraqui).
The other mode involves a number of feature fiction films, from Tito and I (1982, d. G. Markovic), to Underground (1995, d. E. Kusturica), Professional (2003, d. D. Kovacevic) or TV series like The Unpicked Strawberries (1975, d. S. Karanovic) The very roots of the fiction-faction combination lie in the work of Dusan Makavejev (from Innocence Unprotected 1968 to Gorilla Bathes at Noon 1993) where the layer of faction adds the surplus of meaning and interpretative options to cleverly created fiction. The seamless combination interacts in such a way that past faction and contemporary fiction become mutually explanatory and anticipatory. Tito and I uses documentary footage of Filmske Novosti, reedited so as to provide a carnivalesque, Bakhtian perspective to Tito's time, and to Yugoslav socialism. Underground (very much in the Forrest Gump manner) broadens the claim recognizing the history of former Yugoslavia as the history of tyrannical regimes. The documentary shots of the German 1941 invasion of Yugoslavia (the welcome extended to the Germans in Maribor) and later of Tito's funeral are accompanied by the Nazi popular song Lili Marlene. Marathon Family begins with documentaries of the assassination of King Alexander in Marseille and his funeral, which introduce the motif of death (from state, national, historical to death as business) on many levels and in many forms. Finally Professional cleverly replaces the past from the original theater text with the past of October 2000 through a compilation of documentary shots. The presence of Branislav Lecic in fiction and faction is a useful intertextual element that gives extra cohesion and more actual political resonance to the film as a whole.
The common principle in the usage of documentaries (faction) serves the thesis that recent YU cinema shapes and explores its own and the general past through the genre of historiographic metafiction (Linda Hutcheon 1996). Hutcheon's term refers to work which self consciously problematizes the making of fiction and history, which poses questions about whose ‘truth' prevails, and which explores ways in which we can distinguish the past from the present. Such texts are equally involved in both representing history and researching the history of representation - in both cases due to the various employments and inscriptions of the docu material.

Nevena Dakovic, PhD is professor of Film Theory/Film Studies at the Dept. of Theory and History at the University of Arts/Belgrade, SCG. She is the author of two books (Melodrama is Not a Genre, 1995, and Dictionary of Film Theoreticians, 2002); editor (of the multimedia publication The Representation of the Serbian Cultural and National Identity, 2004) and co editor of another two with prof. D. Derman and prof. K. Ross (Gender and Media 1997, Media(ted) Identities 2001). Her research is focused on the issues of identity (mainly national, multicultural) representations in cinema. She presented her work at number of conferences of similar thematic (e.g. Migrant and Diasporic Cinema in Contemporary Europe) at Yale, Thessalonica, LSE , Sazlburg etc.

« Back

Date: June 9, Friday

Time: 4.30-5 pm



© 1995-2012 OSA Archivum at Central European University