On the other side of the mirror

Focus #7

Wed 9 October 201909.10.19
5 rue des Ecoles
75005 Paris
unique : 5€
UGC / MK2 and CIP cards accepted
Session preceded by a performance by Esmé Planchon at 19:30

Programmed and presented by Doplgenger (Isidora Ilić and Bosko Prostran)

The Academic Kino Club was founded by students of the University of Belgrade in 1958. In 1976 it became known as the Academic Film Center (AFC). It is considered one of the most important film clubs in Yugoslavia and Serbia. Until recently, all the publications and histories of the club have focused on the male artists who were part of it, thus invisibilizing the female directors of the AFC who have proposed an aesthetic and an imaginary that is different from the official history of the club

Yugoslavian Home Movies
Salise Hughes
Smilja Tadić
Digitized video
Putovanje (a journey)
Bojana Vujanović
16 mm on digital
Dogs, Moon River And Baudelaire
Marija Kovačina
Licna Disciplina
Julijana Terek and Miroslav Bata Petrović
16 mm on digital
Nina Kreuzinger
Jelena Bešir
Sky Lines
Nadine Poulain

Amateurism, Kino-club and women comrades

After the Yugoslav People’s Liberation Front (1941-1945), the thinking of cultural policies within the Yugoslav self-managed socialism implied that culture should become the place of daily self-realization of each individual and of the society as a whole, with the common goal of realizing socialism. Cultural amateurism 1 was one of the recommended ways to achieve this goal. Amateur culture, thanks to industrialization and modernization, found its place in the houses of culture, as well as in the workers’ or popular universities. The establishment of a creative cultural-artistic-amateur activity abolished the differences between bourgeois and popular culture, between “great” and “mass” culture, between manual and intellectual work, between working time in the factory and free time in private space. The idea of a “cultural fusion” in which work, culture and society were integrated into self-managed socialism guided cultural policies until the end of the 1980s, the end of self-management and the end of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

In the sphere of amateur cinema, efforts were made to bring film culture to as many people as possible. “Technology for the People”, as a state institution, had established hundreds of photo / kino clubs (those in Zagreb, Belgrade and Split were famous from the 1950s), as well as dozens of film festivals and meetings. Amateur cinema was simply a pedagogical dimension and allowed those who were interested to master the basics of film technology. Amateur cinema is also at the origin of the emergence of the “modern Yugoslav cinema of the 1960s” and most of the authors of what will be called “Black Wave” (Dušan Makavejev, Živojin Pavlović, Želimir Žilnik, Kokan Rakonjac, Marko Babac) were members of kino-clubs.

Regarding gender relations, the amateur context was not different from other social spheres. Statistical data on the participation of socialist women in political and social life show a contradiction between theory and practice. Gender equality, a part of the socialist ideology that was put forward to encourage female workers to take part in the leadership of enterprises and the state, was met in practice with resistance from traditional prejudices and patriarchal relations. Statistical data prove the dominant influence of gender prejudices that are reproduced in the fields of culture, art and science in a similar way to other professions. The socialist strategy of emancipatory and pedagogical policies was reflected in the fact that women as well as men were allowed to study what interested them, but at the structural and representational level, women were ideologically and numerically excluded from the world of filmmakers, scriptwriters, producers, because these jobs were considered masculine.


The idea of cultural amateurism as a "manifestation of sociability" found its culmination in the concept of proletkult, an idea developed by Anatoly Lunacharsky and Alexander Bogdanov. Proletkult (proletarian culture) was created in September 1917 as an experiment in socio-cultural self-management. According to Bogdanov's definition, art is one of the organisational forms of the new society, according to which its function is not to embellish or delight, but to produce and build. It must be amateur in the broadest sense and practised in the Houses of Culture, as places of sociability.

Silenced Bodies in the Works of Women Authors at the Academic Film Center Belgrade

The next moment, Alice had broken through the glass and jumped nimbly into the Mirror Room. The very first thought that occurred to her was to see if there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was delighted to find that there was a real fire there, and just as hot as the one she had left in the other room. So I shall be as warm here as I am there,” thought Alice, “and more so, for there will be no one to chide me if I go near the flame. Oh, how funny it will be when they see me in the mirror and can’t come and get me!

(Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass)

One of the most important film clubs in the former Yugoslavia was the Academic Kino Club, founded in 1958, which became the Academic Film Center (AFC) in 1976. The AFC has left its mark on the culture of experimental cinema in Yugoslavia and Serbia through the work of the artists associated with it. The term “artists” in the club’s publications and historical notes has always referred to male authors. Although each generation of the AFC has had female comrades as members of the club, female AFC authors have remained unheard and unseen until recently. This program features only a few of the women authors who have worked and produced within the AFC since the 1960s. In the Kino Club notes, there is nothing more than data about the films. Aside from the fact that these films were made by women, it would be difficult to associate feminist tendencies or strategy with the AFC’s female authors.

Nevertheless, just as Alice slips through the looking glass and realizes that nothing is as it seems, many of the mirrors in the films of the AFC women reveal motifs, themes, and artistic treatments that may have been unconsciously repeated and passed down through the generations, weaving together an alternative world. The films made by the first female authors bear witness to significant aesthetics and a strong inscription in genre cinema that are the characteristics of an era and the artistic trends of the ideological and materialist context mentioned above. Here, women’s experience is communicated directly or indirectly, like Laura Mulvey’s call for a new feminist avant-garde cinema that would interrupt the narrative pleasure of classical cinema where women’s figures on screen are only objects of male desire and gaze. The body as an artistic medium in the films of the AFC’s female authors does not represent a visual pleasure but an ideological trace. From the structural treatment that animates the image of a sedentary woman in Bojana Vujanović’s A Journey (the same treatment will be repeated forty years later in Marija Kovačina’s Dogs, Moon river and Baudelaire ), to Personal Discipline (directed by Miroslav-Bata Petrović & Julijana Terek) with the subversive action of a woman shaving her head and displaying it in the streets; to the collective moving body in Salise Hughes’ Yugoslavian Home Movies , a cinematic body that represents a historical body in action. Even shrunken to the state of dolls( Smilja Tadić’sOlimp ), advertising images( Nina Kreuzinge’sWechselstrom ), even abstract( Jelena Bešir’sMirror ) or erased( Nadin Poulain’sSky Lines ), they tell stories about time and space. Space, as a significant interpretive paradigm of feminist aesthetics, is never private and each film of the AFC authors shows the complex interaction between space and gender. In their journey, all bodies move transgressing the boundaries between private and public, inside and outside, making the realm of cinema a fundamental space in which women’s experience can be expressed. Nevertheless, this is only expressed through alternative cinematic means, while the bodies of the female AFC authors remain too silent and only whisper from time to time.

Isidora Ilić (Doplgenger)

Doplgenger is a duo of artists founded in 2006 by the two filmmakers/videographers Isidora Ilic and Bosko Prostran, originally from Belgrade. Their work concerns the link between art and politics through the study of different image regimes and their reception. It is through the deconstruction of the filmic medium, language, structure and notions of text that one can discover the ways in which art and moving images can create a political reality.