CZKD The Center for Cultural Decontamination, Belgrade
On Monday 17th February Difference Screen presented a selection of films at CZKD The Center for Cultural Decontamination, Belgrade. They included two works from the Balkans, Renata Poljak’s Staging Actors / Staging Beliefs and Breda Beban’s Walk of the Three Chairs.
In Staging Actors / Staging Beliefs (2011) Renata Poljak revisits Boshko Buha an iconic film from her childhood, a tale of young Partisans fighting the Nazis in WW2. Boshko Buha is a tragic hero who dies young “he was only fifteen when he joined the communist movement, and was posthumously awarded with the People’s Hero of Yugoslavia title. Through the film’s continuous screenings both in theaters and on the national television, the communist ideology and belief in the Yugoslav socialist system were extensively spread. Boshko Buha was one of the most popular films of the Yugoslav era.” *1
Staging Actors / Staging Beliefs revolves around the persona of Ivan Kojundzic the child actor who played Boshko Buha. Poljak sought out Ivan Kojundzic and met him “with a script disguised as an interview.” *2 Throughout the interview Kojundzic appears to contradict himself as he first sets out his support for the values of Nationalism and Catholicism in new Croatia while comparing Yugoslavia to ‘The Peoples’ Dungeon’ of the USSR. Soon after he laments the break up of Yugoslavia, a country of 22 million people with faith in a better tomorrow. In this way the film explores the ‘schizophrenic’ attitudes that many people hold for the past and present in former Yugoslavia.
part of the poster for the film Boshko Buha, 1979
still from Staging Actors / Staging Beliefs – (Ivan Kojundzic)
“Walk of Three Chairs (2003) shows Breda Beban floating on a raft between two banks of the Danube in Belgrade, believed by some to be the point at which the Balkans end and Europe begins.
One bank reveals an industrial landscape whilst the other is populated by trees and wooden dachas. The movie takes its title from a traditional Balkan pagan ritual, one that the artist recalls her grandfather performing after winning at gambling. The precarious yet celebratory act performed by Beban against the shifting backdrop, is for her an expression of ‘a complex kind of joy informed by sadness’. This idea of bitter sweet is encapsulated in the love song Beban attempts to sing as she travels: ‘Who Doesn’t Know How to Suffer Doesn’t Know How to Love’.” *3
still from Walk of the Three Chairs
Aleksandra Sekulic introduced the programme. We were joined by film makers Ognjen Glavonic and Marko Grba Singh. Marko’s film Bledo / Pale is a documentary on the situation and attitudes to immigrants from Africa and the Middle East in a small Serbian town, a staging post to further destinations in the EU. Bledo / Pale was screened at the end of the programme. Discussion with Q&A concluded the session.
In a conversation with Danica Prodanovic (Belgrade Cultural Center) I subsequently learned that the Cultural Center is currently planning an exhibition of work by Breda Beban. Danica had not seen Walk of the Three Chairs before and hoped it might be possible for the film to be included in the exhibition.
audience and auditorium CZKD
introducing Difference Screen: Aleksandra Sekulic, Bruce Allan, Marko Grba Singh and Ognjen Glavonic
discussion with Bruce Allan, Aleksandra Sekulic Marko Grba Singh
CZKD photo credits: Srdjan Veljovic