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The Anti-Hegemonic Cinema of Yugoslavia and What Came After

19 dicembre 2013
Ex Boccherini - Piazza S. Ponziano 6 (Conference Room )
This presentation aims to show how the cinema in Yugoslavia and its successor states has continuously managed to produce anti-hegemonic narratives – both in the times of socialism and ethnonationalism. In this framework, it will be argued that the demand for nationalist narratives and paradigms in the region’s cinema has been an exception, rather than the norm. I shall start with the ‘Black Wave’ cinema of Yugoslavia (mid-1960s to early 1970s), named as such by the censorship committees, which started addressing in critical ways two sets of issues: firstly, the lines of class conflict dating back to World War II (WWII) and departures and deviations from the egalitarian ideology of the Partisan communist movement; and, secondly, the gap between the increasing social inequalities (which remained unarticulated in official discourse) and the Communist elites’ (and new middle classes’) consumerism, greed, and cynical takes on the ideology they (still) officially espoused. During the 1990s, the nationalist film critics across the former republics, who would strive to neatly divide the history by ethno-national “keys,” attempted to downplay or discredit the pan-Yugoslav habitus of the Black Wave directors, which was reflected in their film narratives, and the enduring networks of actors, producers, camera, and other film professionals. Starting from the mid-1990s, we see in the emerging post-Yugoslav cinema, on the one hand, the dominance of ethnocentric-nationalist perspectives on the break-up of the Yugoslav federation and the ensuing wars. As opposed to these, stand the film approaches which unleash what Pavle Levi calls ethno-deference, “the force of movement away from and beyond the essentialist and exclusivist conceptions of identity”. In the second party of the presentation I aim to show how the lines of contemporary film narratives in the post-Yugoslav space, and their authors’ social identities have continued to produce alternatives to the nationalist master narratives. By defining and defending various `others' in the films which address the recent wars and war crimes via exposing the problems of the hegemonic and anti-hegemonic reading of memories – we find, among both the characters and makers of the post-Yugoslav films, `nomadic subjects' (R. Braidotti), capable of escaping and exposing the cracks in the construct of an ethno-nation’s monolith and its alleged antiquity, continuity, and collective desirability.
Devic, Ana