Cinema of Serbia
|Cinema of Serbia|
|No. of screens||117 (2011)|
|• Per capita||1.3 per 100,000 (2011)|
|Main distributors||Tuck Vision 35.3%|
|Produced feature films (2016)|
|Number of admissions (2018)|
|Gross box office (2011)|
|Total||RSD 739 million|
|National films||RSD 239 million (32.3%)|
|Part of a series on the|
Serbia (both as an independent state and as a part of Yugoslavia) has been home to many internationally acclaimed films and directors. Many of the prominent films from the Balkans are from Serbia, and have acquired a great level of commercial success.
History of cinema
Kingdom of Serbia (1896—1917)
The first-ever projection of motion pictures in the Balkans and Central Europe was held in Belgrade on the 6th June 1896 by André Carr, a representative of the Lumière brothers. He shot the first motion pictures of Belgrade in the next year, but they have not been preserved.
A number of traveling cinemas went through Serbia, showing film in rented halls. showing films in rented halls or under tents. Stojan Nanic from Zajećar was the owner of "The First Serbian Cinema". His company screened film in the capital city and other cities since 1900. At the beginning of the 20th century, cinema became a favorite form of entertainment for a wide range of people.
Serbian cinema also dates back to 1896 with the release of the oldest movie in the Balkans, The Life and Deeds of the Immortal Vožd Karađorđe, a biography about Serbian revolutionary leader, Karađorđe.
The first permanent cinema was opened in 1909 in Belgrade, with more cinemas shortly opened across Serbia. Modern-day Vojvodina province was a part of Austria-Hungary; cinema developed in the province at the same time as it did in Serbia, with the first cinema opened in 1906 in Sombor.
Owner of pubs rented space for traveling cinema operaters from abroad and soon started doing their own productions. Serbian cinema pioneers include Svetozar Botorić, Savić brother, Cvetković brothers and Đoka Bogdanović. Botorić owned the cinema "Paris" located in the center of Belgrade. He hired camera operators from France and produced around 20 short documentaries and went on to make films during the Balkan wars.
Other notable films from this period include The Coronation of King Peter I shot in 1904.
On the eve of the World War I, there were 30 established cinemas active in the Kingdom of Serbia. After the Great Retreat Serbian army founded a Film section on Corfu which documented various battles and events during the course of the war.
Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918—1941)
Ernest Bošnjak was a notable film author from Sombor, who directed and produced several well-received genre films and documentaries. Other film pioneers from Vojvodina are Aleksandar Lifka and Vladimir Totović.
In 1931 new state law on cinema was introduced, which promoted the rise of domestic production. Prior to that, most local production companies went bankrupt after some time, because of high taxes, lack of state policy of protection of domestic companies and the big offer of cheap films of foreign production on the market (mostly French, German and American). In 1932 there was more movies produced than in the whole period of 1918-1931. Through lobbying of foreign companies the law which favoured and protected domestic cinema was withdrawn and local production was reduced to prior state with very only a few movies produced.
Noted films from this period are Sve radi osmeha, Rudareva sreća, Kralj Čarlstona, Grešnica bez greha and Kroz buru i oganj. The most notable of the prewar films was Mihailo Popović's The Battle of Kosovo from 1939, while the best documentary is considered to be Priča jednog dana by Maks Kalmić.
Republic of Yugoslavia (1945—1992)
After the victory of Yugoslav Partisans, the newly founded state formed the federal Committee for cinematography, which was organised in six regional centers, one for each socialist republic. Faculty of Dramatic Arts (under the name Academy for theatre arts) was founded as the main education institution for education in the country, new studio complex known as "Film city" in Košutnjak was built and several monthly film magazines were started.
Most films produced after the WWII were action films, adventures, partisan film, adaptations, historical dramas, documentaries and "film news" (chronicles of everyday life).
Partisan films (sr. Партизански филм) appeared immediately after the World War 2, with Slavica (1947) being the first in line. Theoretically, partisan film is a sub genre of a war film, set in Nazi–occupied Yugoslavia, with partisan army of Yugoslavia as protagonist, and armies of Axis powers as antagonist. These films are often characterized as having production scale of epic films, ensemble cast and emotionally intense scenes, caused solely by war tragedies. According to some film historians, partisan films respected Tito’s cult of personality, hence rarely glorified individual over collective, not giving enough material to actors to show off their skills. However, for her role of partisan doctor in I Was Stronger (1953) Mira Stupica won a Golden Arena for Best Actress.
In the 40s and 50s director Radoš Novaković achieved great success with multiple partisan features: Dečak Mita (1951), The Sun Is Far Away (1953), based on eponymous novel by Dobrica Ćosić, Blodveien (1955), a Yugoslavian—Norwegian production and Vetar je stao pred zoru (1959). Other partisan films of the 40s and 50s are Besmrtna mladost (1948), Barba Žvane (1949), Poslednji dan (1951), The Last Bridge (1954), filmed in collaboration with East Germany, Jedini izlaz (1958), The Sky Through the Trees (1958), Rafal u nebo (1958) and Aleksa Dundić (1959), Yugoslavian–Russian film.
Most of the first film stars in Yugoslavia were casted for partisan films. Those are Ljuba Tadić, Rade Marković, Dragomir Felba, Pavle Vuisić, Marija Crnobori, Mihajlo Bata Paskaljević, Dara Čalenić, Rahela Ferari, Severin Bijelić, Stole Aranđelović, Branko Pleša and Milena Dravić.
In the 60s film production in Yugoslavia was getting bigger, as many features were sponsored directly by the state. Captain Lechi (1961) was at the time highest grossing Yugoslav movie. It was directed by Žika Mitrović, who in 1964 directed another commercially successful film, March on the Drina. Writers and poets from the entire country were called to write screenplays for partisan films. Arsen Diklić penned March on the Drina and Destination Death in 1964 while Antonije Isaković wrote Partisan Stories (1960). Velimir Bata Živojinović rose to fame as one of the most recognizable faces of partisan films. In the sixties he played in Brat doktora Homera (1968) and Bloody Tale (1969), film based on the song of the same title by the celebrated Yugoslav poetess Desanka Maksimović. Živojinović played in partisan films of Bosnian and Croatian production, Kozara and Thundering Mountains (1963) which helped him gain popularity across the country. However, he also played in Black Wave films. Young Ljubiša Samardžić (Desant na Drvar, Kozara, Eagles Fly Early) was another actor often seen as protagonist in Yugoslav war films.
The year of 1969 saw the most prominent actors of Yugoslavia working on a partisan film Battle of Neretva. Production was lavishly financed by President Tito himself, who also served as a consultant.
The cast led by Živojinović, Samardžić, Dravić and Vuisić got the chance to work with international film stars: Yul Brynner, Orson Welles, Franco Nero, Sergei Bondarchuk and others. According to historians, these actors got appealing financial offers to join the cast of what was about to become one of the most expensive films of the time, helping to endorse Yugoslavia as a friendly communist country. Pablo Picasso joined the international cast and crew, drawing the poster of the film for a case of wine from Yugoslavia. Battle of Neretva was nominated for Oscar for Best Foreign Film in April 1970, but lost to Algerian Z.
The success of partisan films continued long after the Battle of Neretva. Beginning of the decade started with The Cyclists (1970) by Mladomir Puriša Đorđević and Hajka (1972) with Rade Šerbedžija in the leading role. For this film Pavle Vuisić was awarded with Golden Arena. In 1972 Bata Živojinović played the role of his life in Valter Defends Sarajevo. Three years later the film was shown on the Chinese national television, making Živojinović a film star in China. In 1973 two films were made that performed very well at the box offices. First one was Bombardiers (with Živojinović and Samardžić) and the second Battle of Sutjeska. Aiming to repeat the success of Battle of Neretva, this film also gathered the best watched cast (Dravić, Samardžić, Živojinović). This was another film with a budget approved by Tito. Therefore many international actors were cast. Richard Burton played Josip Broz Tito, Orson Welles was in the role of Winston Churchill. The year of 1974 marked the last peak of partisan film with two blockbusters: The Written-Off with Voja Brajović and Dragan Nikolić and Guns of War, which brought another Golden Arena to Ružica Sokić. That same year Written-Off was turned into television series. In 1974, the high-budget flick Hell River with Rod Taylor was screened with a moderate success. The same happened with Doctor Mladen (1975), The Peaks of Zelengora (1976), Maiden Bridge (1976), Dvoboj za južnu prugu (1978) and Arrive Before Daybreak (1978), with the exception of Boško Buha, film adaptation of eponymous novel by Dobrica Ćosić. After Tito’s death in 1980, production of partisan films started to collapse following their slow fusion with war and post-war drama. In 1980, no partisan film was made. Partisan films that came after, now considered war dramas, were March on Igman, Široko lišće and Great Transport, which received universally negative critics, bombed at the box office and symbolically marked the end of era of partisan film. The theme of German occupation of Yugoslavia however continued in the cinema of Serbia into the 80s, mostly in the war comedy genre, with movies such as Who's Singin' Over There? and Balkan Express.
Many prominent Serbian actors have started their careers in partisan film. The Farm in the Small Marsh (1976) featured child actor Slavko Štimac, who remained famous in the years to come. Acclaimed director, actor and producer, Dragan Bjelogrlić, played his first role in Boško Buha (1978).
Cinema in 60s
Already in the early 60s Yugoslav movies had an already established ensemble of notable actors. Led by country’s most beloved on screen duo, Milena Dravić and Ljubiša Samardžić, who played film couple 25 times, those actors are Olivera Marković, Velimir Bata Živojinović, Ružica Sokić, Miodrag Petrović Čkalja, Beba Lončar, Stevo Žigon, Vlastimir Đuza Stojiljković and others. Despite the popularity of partisan films and the birth of Black Wave, overproduction in film industry has also created space for other genres. In the 60s Yugoslavia saw the rise of the comedy.
Two actors who made the genre popular were Mija Aleksić and Miodrag Petrović Čkalja. Petrović rose to fame with 1964 comedy A Trip Around the World (1964) directed by Soja Jovanović and based on the work of Branislav Nušić. In the film he is in the role of Jovanča Micić, small merchant from Jagodina who ends up on the adventurous road trip around the world. This movie has also launched the career of Olivera Katarina, Serbian singer and actress. Soja Jovanović and Čkalja had more successful collaborations in the sixties — partisan film Eagles Fly Early (1966), based on eponymous novel by Branko Ćopić and Father by Force (1969). Mija Aleksić has also starred in films directed by Jovanović, and got Golden Arena for Best Actor in her comedy Dr (1962). He also played in successful Black Wave film Čovek iz hrastove šume (1964). Yet he got best known for his roles in Yugoslavian blockbuster Ljubav i moda (1960) and 1967 comedy Bokseri idu u raj. Ljubav i moda was featuring a guest music star Gabi Novak, and nowadays is best remembered because of the 60s hit song Devojko mala (pesmo moga grada).
Other famous movies were also mostly comedies: The Dreams Came by Coach (1960, org. Diližansa snova), Prvi građanin male varoši (1961), Nema malih bogova (1961), Lito vilovito (1964), Sirota Marija (1968), Bog je umro uzalud (1969), as well as dramas Zemljaci (1963), The Climber (1966) and Hassan-aga’s Wife (1967) with Milena Dravić, who in the sixties got awarded with 3 supporting and a Golden Arena for Best Actress in the comedy Prekobrojna (1962). Two notable mentions were also a musical Zvižduk u osam (1962) with Đorđe Marjanović and a thriller The Knife (1967) with Bata Živojinović. In 1967 and 1968 three romance films introduced Neda Arnerić, the youngest star and the future sex–symbol of Yugoslavia. Those films were The Morning, Noon and The Girl in the Park. At the Venice Film Festival Ljubiša Samardžić won Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his role in Jutro, (now considered a Black Wave film), while Milena Dravić, who played his partner, got a special award from the jury.
Other Yugoslav actors who started their careers in the 60s’ film were Danilo Bata Stojković, Mira Banjac, Petar Kralj, Bora Todorović, Mihailo Janketić, Vera Čukić, Jelena Žigon and others. Between 1960 and 1970 young actor Nikola Simić played in 44 films. This was also the time when comedians Seka Sablić and Zoran Radmilović played their first roles on the screen.
In the early 60s Yugoslav cinema was going through a mass production. More fresh faces in film making meant more topics to be tackled. Number of directors particularly wanted to show the darker sides of the communist state, the malfunctions of the society, to explore the subjects of human body and sexuality. Their projects created the so called Black Wave in Yugoslav cinema, a period of non-traditional film making that lasted between 1963 and 1972. The title Black wave comes from a polemical article "Crni talas u našem filmu" (Black wave in our cinematography). While directors were banned and forced to exile, their movies were getting international recognition. Some of their works were confiscated by the Yugoslav government.
The leading men of Black Wave were Žika Pavlović (When I Am Dead and Gone, The Rats Woke Up), Saša Petrović (It Rains in My Village, Tri), Puriša Đorđević (Devojka, San, Jutro, Podne), Mika Antić and Mića Popović (Burduš). However, Dušan Makavejev (Innocence Unprotected, Man Is Not a Bird) and Želimir Žilnik (Early Works, The Way Steel Was Tempered, Marble Ass) were the most famous among them. Their films went on to win a Golden Bear, Silver Bear for Best Director, Cannes Grand Prix and six nominations for Cannes Palme d'Or, with success continuing through directors emerging from the wave, including two Palme d'Or awards in the 1980s and 1990s.
Two Black Wave films, both made by Aleksandar Saša Petrović, were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: Three in 1966 and I Even Met Happy Gypsies with Olivera Katarina and Bekim Fehmiu in 1967.
The most notable postwar director was Dušan Makavejev who was internationally recognized for Love Affair: Or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator in 1969 focusing on Yugoslav politics. His other acclaimed work is W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971) after which he was accused of the derision of the institutions of the state and forced to exile.
These films had almost regular cast. Milena Dravić was celebrated as an icon of the Black Wave, and went on to become the ″Leading Lady of Yugoslav Cinema″. Eva Ras got famous thanks to the first scene of female nudity in Serbian film, and after publicly refusing to join Tito in his villa on Brioni Islands. Ružica Sokić was another actress who became popular because of her roles in Black Wave films and remained famous until her death. Some films considered to be the influenced by the Black Wave are Strange girl (1962), Plastic Jesus (1971), I Bog stvori kafansku pevačicu (1972) with Bata Živojinović and The Yellow One (1973) featuring Ružica Sokić in the title role, for which she was awarded with Golden Arena for Best Actress.
Cinema in 70s
Other than partisan and Black Wave films, few other topics were shown in the cinema of 70s in Yugoslavia. The year of 1973 however marked a birth of horror as a genre in Serbian film. It was the movie The She-Butterfly by Đorđe Kadijević, with the plot centered around the story of a female vampire haunting the peasants coming to the local mill. The film was based on the motives of Milovan Glišić short story After Ninety Years (1880). It was originally made for television but due to the popularity it has been screened in the cinemas to this day.
The year of 1977 was particularly successful. Ljubiša Samardžić won Golden Arena for Best Actor for his role in Special Education, directorial debut of Goran Marković, who afterwards became celebrated director. This movie was also the career start for two other actors who later became famous — Aleksandar Berček and Branislav Lečić. In the same year Serbian actress Svetlana Bojković won Golden Arena for Best Actress for her role in The Dog Who Loved Trains. This was the second successful film directed by Goran Paskaljević, other being Beach Guard in Winter from 1976, with Mira Banjac and Danilo Bata Stojković. Both of his films were screened at the Berlin International Film Festival. Fragrance of Wild Flowers, a film by Srđan Karanović, also premiered in 1977 in Belgrade. It was also screened at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won FIPRESCI award. At the Pula Film Festival it won the Big Golden Arena for Best Film.
Comedy genre had Foolish Years (1977) — the first installment out of the 10 parts comedy, starring Dragomir Gidra Bojanić. Despite his early start in partisan productions, Bojanić was mostly remembered as Grandpa Žika in the Foolish Years also known as Žika’s Dynasty comedy serial that lasted from 1977 until 1992. Despite the universally negative critics of its folksy humor, series of film enjoyed massive popularity in Yugoslavia. Romantic comedies were in high demand, and many were made in the seventies, most of them featuring Ljubiša Samardžić. The best known among them were Beloved Love (1977) (or Love Life of Budimir Trajković) and Naivko (1975), where he played the love interest of Radmila Živković.
Other notable film are The Bug Killer (org. Bubašinter) (1971), Paja i Jare (1973), based on the TV series Truckers, Košava (1974) with Tanja Bošković and Death and the Dervish (1974), based on the novel by Meša Selimović. National Class Category Up to 785 ccm from 1979 featured a popular soundtrack, with the likes of Oliver Mandić, Slađana Milošević and many other pop stars of 70s. After playing the lead in the film, Dragan Nikolić became a male sex symbol in Yugoslavia. Gorica Popović, who played the lead female role, was awarded with Golden Arena.
Cinema in 80s
The "Belgrade school", associated with the production company Dunav film, was among the most important schools or centers of documentary film production. Members of the film school have won numerous awards at domestic and foreign film festivals.
Cinema in 90s and early 00s
Bosnian Serb Emir Kusturica was dominating the world film stage at the time the Yugoslav state collapsed. His movie Underground went on to win a Palme d'Or, along with a number of other awards. The main topic of the movie is sadness for lost national and artistic unity. Kusturica's movies from the 00s Black Cat, White Cat and Život je čudo received mixed reviews.
After the end of Yugoslav wars Serbs were mainly presented as villains in Hollywood movies. Sociologist Vladimir Vuletić concludes that the demonization of Serbs contributed to creation of the stereotypes about the nation. Vuletić emphasizes that such stereotypes gave inspiration to people who wanted to identify with "bad guys" when committing crimes, such as Christchurch mosque shootings or 2011 Norway attacks, although they know nothing about the real events involving Serbs, nor they are in any way connected with them.
Republic of Serbia (2006—present)
After the process of privatization of the state-run Beograd Film cinema chain, Belgrade was left without most of its cinemas. There were 679 cinemas in Serbia in 1968, but only 88 in 2012. In 2007 a Serbian businessman, Nikola Đivanović, purchased 14 theatres, including the cinema "Zvezda (Star)", which belonged to Beograd Film. Within a year they were all closed; six were sold to foreign investors. On 21 November 2014 a group of 200 people, members of the public, activists, artists and filmmakers took possession of the abandoned cinema. It was later renamed to "Novi Bioskop Zvezda (New Star Cinema)". Several influential people outside Serbia have publicly supported the occupation, such as Michel Gondry, who has produced a short animation film on the subject.
US blockbusters and films produced by major studios dominate the repertoires of Serbian cinemas, especially multiplexes that have recently appeared in big cities.
|Year||Number of movies produced|
Festivals and Awards
Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival founded in 1954 remains one of the main festivals for short, experimental and documentary movies.
Other popular festivals include BELDOCS - International Documentary Film Festival Belgrade, Auteur Film Festival, European Feature Documentary Film Festival Magnificent Seven, International Film Directors’ Festival LIFFE in Leskovac and Palić European Film Festival.
Some of the most notable Serbian actors:
Serbian cinema continued to make progress in the 1990s and today despite the turmoil of the 1990s. Emir Kusturica won two Golden Palms for Best Feature Film at the Cannes Film Festival, for When Father Was Away on Business in 1985 and then again for Underground in 1995. In 1998, Kusturica won a Silver Lion for directing Black Cat, White Cat.
- Timothy John Byford
- Srđan Dragojević
- Emir Kusturica
- Peter Bogdanovich
- Dušan Makavejev
- Goran Marković
- Gojko Mitić
- Goran Paskaljević
- Živojin Pavlović
- Aleksandar Petrović
- Lazar Ristovski
- Slobodan Šijan
- Želimir Žilnik
- Boro Drašković
- Žika Mitrović
- Ljubiša Samardžić
- Nikola Ležaić
- Srdan Golubović
- Mila Turajlić
- Stefan Arsenijević
Several Serbian-American filmmakers have established a loose, intellectual multi-mediamaking tradition, working within prominent academic institutions and also creating works marked by high stylistic experimentation. Slavko Vorkapic, created of famed montage sequences for Hollywood films and was the Dean of the USC Film School, while film and TV director Vlada Petrić cofounded the Harvard Film Archive.
|Skupljači perja||I Even Met Happy Gypsies||1967||Drama|
|Kada budem mrtav i beo||When I Am Dead and Gone||1967||Music, Drama|
|Buđenje pacova||The Rats Woke Up||1967||Drama|
|Bitka na Neretvi||Battle of Neretva||1969||War, Partisan|
|W.R.: Misterije organizma||W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism||1971||Comedy, Drama, Fantasy|
|Valter brani Sarajevo||Valter Defends Sarajevo||1972||War, Partisan|
|Nacionalna klasa||National Class||1979||Comedy, Drama|
|Ko to tamo peva||Who's That Singing Over There||1980||Comedy, Drama|
|Maratonci trče počasni krug||Maratonci trče počasni krug||1982||Comedy, Drama|
|Varljivo leto '68||The Elusive Summer of '68||1984||Comedy, Coming of age|
|Balkanski špijun||Balkan Spy||1984||Comedy, Drama|
|Otac na službenom putu||When Father Was Away on Business||1985||Drama, Comedy|
|Dom za vešanje||Time of the Gypsies||1988||Comedy, Crime|
|Tito i ja||Tito i ja||1992||Comedy, Drama|
|Mi nismo anđeli||We Are Not Angels||1992||Comedy|
|Podzemlje||Underground||1995||Comedy, Drama, War|
|Lepa sela, lepo gore||Pretty Village, Pretty Flame||1996||Comedy, Drama, War|
|Crna mačka, beli mačor||Black cat, white cat||1997||Comedy, Drama|
|Rane||The Wounds||1998||Drama, Crime|
|Mrtav ladan||Frozen Stiff||2002||Comedy, Drama|
|Zona Zamfirova||Zona Zamfirova||2002||Comedy, Drama|
|Život je čudo||Life is a miracle||2004||Comedy, Romance|
|Edit i Ja||Technotise: Edit & I||2009||Animation, Sci-Fi|
|Sveti Georgije ubiva aždahu||St. George Slays the Dragon||2009||Drama, History|
|The witch hunters||Zlogonje||2018||Adventure, family, drama|
|Južni vetar||South wind||2018||Crime|
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