Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:02 pm 
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Personal and political

The Serbian filmmaker Mila Turajlić had good reason to turn her camera on her mother, Srbijanka. And on their Belgrade apartment. Both are full of modern Slavic history. Back in the day, it was a handsome, spacious place. But one day many years ago, during the long rule of Marshall Tito, when Srbijanka was only a child, a woman in leather representing the communist party came, and divided it up. The Party thought the bourgeoisie was taking up too much space. Srbijanka is a big woman in slacks with cropped hair and glasses. She has a husky smoker's voice and a cigarette is rarely out of her hands. She speaks fluently, with good humor. She is the welcome and articulate spokesman of this professional "home movie."

During the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Mila's great-grandfather had settled his family into a space of about twenty-six-hundred feet. It was posh, and located on the second floor of a building in the same part in the middle of Balgrade as embassies, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of Defense. roughly 2,600-square-foot space on the second floor of a building in a Central Belgrade neighborhood that was also home to the Ministry of Defense, the Supreme Court and foreign embassies. No wonder the communists didn't like this one family occupying so much space! The family knew when they were being observed from the other apartments by click sounds of spy holes.

They gave sections of the apartment to three or four other families that were sectioned off. This is the wall, these are the walls, that "everything" is on "the other side" of. The family managed to hold onto plans of the apartment, on which Srbijanka shows where the divisions were made. The remarkable thing is that the family remained in a central part of their apartment and remain there to this day. It still looks large. This is a family of dissidents. Srbijanka tells that her lawyer parents advised her not to go into the law to avoid being repressed. You're good at math, he said, so do that. And she married a married a professor of applied mathematics, studied electrical engineering and became a professor of physics. But she was still a dissident and she was still repressed. She want to Paris in '68 to participate in the student protests.

The university of Belgrade became a center for protests against Slobodan Milošević of which the Turajlić family and their apartment were a busy part. Mila weaves interviews with her mother and friends with archival films and photos to tell the story of the politics of the decades from Tito to today. Her mother was active in the Otpor! civic protest organization, and it becomes clear that she was a powerful orator, and speaks in public with authority even today. We get a glimpse of the time of Yugoslavia, and the events since, including the Serbian nationalism which Srbijanka, who has said it is her duty to remain in the country, is still vocal in opposing. An example of living history, this provides useful background on the Serbian civil war. Of course those on the other side won't approve, and there is a Citizen Review on IMDb that trashes this film. But it's an enjoyable film that will send those interested to the history books to fill in further background on Srbijanka's personal account.

The Other Side of Everything, 100 mins., debuted at Toronto Sept. 2017, receiving more attention at IDFA in Amsterdam - the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary. In about a half dozen other festivals, with numerous Best Documentary nominations. Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival, where it is a nominee for the Golden Gate Award.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at Roxie Theater
Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 8:40 p.m. at BAMPFA
Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 12:45 p.m. at Creativity Theater


©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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