Vjekoslav Nakic – Kompozicija (1970)

An experimental film with no plot. Consists mostly of static shots portraying train wagons. The word COMPOSITION in Serbian has a triple meaning here – a train composition, composition of a shot, and music composition. Regarding the third meaning, the “soundtrack” of the film is a 5 second loop that keeps repeating itself over and over again. Continue reading

Aleksandar Petrovic – Skupljaci perja AKA I even met happy Gipsies (1967)

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From IMDB:
Bora the Gypsy is married to an older woman, and he falls in love with the younger Tissa, who is being offered in marriage by her father, to a young gypsy man. This marriage arrangement is according to custom. Tissa rejects her husband, claiming he is not able to consumate the marriage, and Bora joins her. They get a monk in the mountains to marry them. Unable to return to the Gypsy camp, Tissa tries to reach Belgrad on her own, but a couple of truck drivers rape her, and she does return in misery to her tribe. Meanwhile, Bora defends his honour the traditional way, in a knife duwl, and kills his opponent. Therefore he, too, must leave the tribe. And yet, we’ll find happy gypsies… Written by Artemis-9 Continue reading

Aleksandar Petrovic – Tri AKA Three (1965)

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Here is a review from NYT from 1967 when it was nominated for Best foreign film at Academy Awards:

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War’s utter bestiality and waste, usually illustrated by armies, is brought into sharp focus by a talented few in “Three,” a prize-winning Yugoslav drama that treats its bleak and harrowing subject with a grim but poetic artistry. It had a showing at the New York Film Festival last year, and is now at the Studio Cinema and 72d Street Theaters. The film is mystifyingly abrupt in its transitions, but its effects, physical and intellectual, are unmistakably forceful and chilling.

The director, Aleksandar Petrovic, with the aid of a sparse script and stunning photography by Tomislav Pinter, has pointed up war’s ravages as it affects one partisan’s fights in one small sector of the conflict. In each of three events he is part of, needless death brought about by fear, despair and defeat. In the opening sequence, as one of a milling village crowd seeking to escape by train from the approaching Nazis, he witnessed the shooting of an innocent man on suspicion by nervous Yugoslav soldiers. Continue reading

Mila Turajlic – Cinema Komunisto (2010)

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When history has a different script from the one in your films, who wouldn’t invent a country to fool themselves? The collapsing sets of Tito’s Hollywood of the East take us on a journey through the rise and fall of the illusion called Yugoslavia. Exploring the ruins of the forgotten film sets and talking to directors, producers, policemen and Tito’s projectionist about the state run film studios and Tito’s personal love for cinema and it’s stars, ‘Cinema Komunisto’ uses film clips to go back to the film when ‘His story’ became the official history. Continue reading

Dusan Makavejev – W.R. – Misterije organizma aka W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971)

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From the Chicago Reader:

We may forget that the most radical rethinking of Marx and Freud found in European cinema of the late 60s and early 70s came from the east rather than the west. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a headier mix of fiction and nonfiction, or sex and politics, than this brilliant 1971 Yugoslav feature by Dusan Makavejev, which juxtaposes a bold Serbian narrative shot in 35-millimeter with funky New York street theater and documentary shot in 16. The “WR” is controversial sexual theorist Wilhelm Reich and the “mysteries” involve Joseph Stalin as an erotic figure in propaganda movies, Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs “killing for peace” as he runs around New York City with a phony gun, and drag queen Jackie Curtis and plaster caster Nancy Godfrey pursuing their own versions of sexual freedom. – Jonathan Rosenbaum Continue reading

Dusan Makavejev – Nevinost bez zastite aka Innocence Unprotected (1968)

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Innocence Unprotected was originally filmed in 1941 under the title Nevinoz bez Zastite; it was meant to be the first all-talking feature ever made in Serbia. Yugoslav gymnast Dragolijub Aleksic wrote, produced, directed and starred in this simple tale of a young man who rescues his lady love from her wicked stepmother. The film was never released, falling victim to the Nazi censors; later on, the film was condemned as pro-Nazi (huh?) Flash-forward to 1968: documentary filmmaker Dusan Makavejev unearthed this forgotten film, expanded upon it with newsreel footage of Dragolijub Aleksic performing his athletic feats and filmed interviews with the surviving cast members, and came up with Innocence Unprotected. The result is less a dramatic film than a montage-like celebration of Yugoslavian customs, folklore, and humor. Makavejev referred to Innocence Unprotected as a “montage of attractions”; viewers will no doubt find those attractions most attractive. Continue reading

Veljko Bulajic – Bitka na Neretvi AKA The Battle of Neretva (1969)

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In 1943, Hitler orders the final destruction of the Yugoslav Partisans. The Partisans begin a trek northward to the relative safety of the Bosnian Mountains – their goal is to cross the treacherous Neretva gorge over one remaining bridge. Along the way, they battle German tanks, Italian infantry, Chetnik Cavalry, strafing airplanes, disease and natural elements.

Yugoslav director Bulajic is telling his story from all points of view, but his sympathies lie with the Partisans. The film has pro-Communist leanings, and tells several interwoven stories stressing the importance of comradeship in wartime. There are many important characters: Yul Brynner (“Morituri”) as crack demolition expert Vlado; Sergei Bondarchuk (director of “Waterloo”) as short-tempered artillery officer Martin; Franco Nero (“The Mercenary”) as an Italian Captain with no faith in Fascism; Hardy Kruger (“A Bridge too Far”) as Colonel Kranzer, who fights with dedication which begins to dwindle as he realizes the bitter reality that the partisans are a formidable enemy; Ljubisa Samardzic (“Battle of the Eagles”) and Sylva Koscina (“Hornets’ Nest”) are brother-and-sister, and Koscina is to marry Ivan (Lojze Rozman) after the war; the list goes on and on, and although every character is significant, it’s impossible to list them all. There’s an interesting twist, too: the legendary Orson Welles plays a Chetnik Senator who battles for concessions with General Lohring (the great Curd Jurgens), a commited Nazi officer who is determined the wipe out the Partisans once and for all. Continue reading