• Datum 16-01-2014
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One of the greatest Montenegrin film auteurs, the late Živko Nikoli?, used to say: "People feel a much greater need for an embellishing mirror than for one that reflects their reality", referring to his critical and satirical screen portrayals of his own local ethnic milieu. Perhaps it were the high cinematic standards set by Nikoli?, coupled with financial and institutional hardships, that caused a long silence in the post-Yugoslav Montenegrin film production, the longest in its film history. Facing the complete absence of film institutions (no cinemas, film schools, film centre or cinématheque) and a lack of funds, Montenegrin film workers have had a harsh struggle.
After this almost two-decade long silence, there was a sudden industry ‘boom’, with two to four feature-length films a year in the last couple of years. Young auteurs have emerged, student films have flourished at the newly created Film Academy, and veterans of Yugoslav film have returned with new works. This ‘New Montenegrin film wave’, as it was called by the press, adhered to well-established genre conventions, ranging from comedies (Branko Baleti?’s comedy-of-manners Local Vampire, Marija Perovi?’s dramedy Packing the Monkeys Again), intimate love stories and immigration dramas (Nikola Vuk?evi?’s A View from the Eiffel Tower, Zeljko Soši?’s Little Love God) to gangster thrillers, the only Montenegrin Oscar candidate to date, Ace of Spades, Bad Destiny (Draško Djurovi?), and the most experimental among them, genre hybrid anti-narrative The Ascent, the debut feature by Nemanja Be?anovi?.
Most young filmmakers focus on the depiction of the existential discomfort felt by young people, torn between their given identity and the problematic reality. In an attempt to denounce the socio-cultural tradition, these filmmakers’ strategies foregrounds the modern/urban as opposed to the savage/rural, but the world of oppositions is usually conveyed through a series of occidentalizing authorial gazes, perhaps in order to attract a greater international audience — a justifiable gesture in light of the restrictive, tiny local market. By contrast to the regional post-Yugoslav film production and in spite of its dynamic thematic and genre/aesthetic experimentation, these recent films seem to be apolitical, even apathetic at times, evading the authenticity of their context. Struggling with the politics of adhering to, as well as rebelling from, tradition, and echoing Nikoli?’s words, contemporary Montenegrin film seems to oscillate between the two poles of a magnifying glass and a vague critique of social reality. In spite of the financial crisis, several new film productions, as well as a new draft of the Film Law, have been announced for 2014, together promising a more diversified Montenegrin film scene.

Maja Bogojevic is a professor at the University of Donja Gorica and founder and editor of Montenegro’s first film magazine Camera Lucida |