6 May - 20 May, 2018
As part of Želimir Žilnik exhibition “Shadow Citizens”, more than 20 Žilnik’s films will be available for online viewing. Many of these are rarely screened, and all are being made available online to this extent for the first time. The films trace various periods and different working conditions within Žilnik’s practice. They are organized in five sections, each available for viewing during the exhibition for two weeks.
The descriptions of the films were composed using material provided by Želimir Žilnik, primarily through several long conversations in Novi Sad and Zagreb, which extended over many months. They are stories that follow the curiosity of the curators surrounding Žilnik’s memories of the experiences of making each film, which he patiently and generously shared. As personal traces such as these open up future research and interpretations, the particular method of their collection, if there was one, was described by Želimir with yet another story: “As Mao Zedong said to his successor Hua Guofeng: With you in charge of business, I can relax.”
Merlyn has been pacifying the Balkans, turning tricks with countless Serbian guys. Merlyn is a lighting rod sheltering Belgrade, calming violent nighthawks, swanky big spenders, miserable loners and horny young studs, taking on the charge that would otherwise befall little girls, unprotected mothers and helpless old women. Combined with guns, this unbridled energy would eventually lead to bloodshed. Merlyn cools the boiling blood of violent Dinarides and enriches it with love. Johnny comes home to Belgrade, from the war. His motives are apparently similar, he also wants to cool the boiling blood, but he does it by letting it through the holes in the human body, which he makes with bullets or knives. This film is a treatise on the different methods of resolving conflicts, resorted to by Merlyn and Johnny.
The film portraits a writer-amateur Bora Joksimović, a heating maintenance mechanic in the Zrenjanin theatre. Unhappy with the shows he sees in his theatre, he decides to try his luck as a playwright. And as a result he has written 53 plays with "mighty plots", like "Hitler and Stalin Conversations in Hell", "Life of a Croat Woman in Belgrade", "Fratricide" etc.
People from the Jazak village in Fruška Gora Mountain show how they fought undercover against the occupation forces during the WWII. They speak about the dramatic events – of how they helped to hide partisans and how young people joined partisan units in Bosnia. We listen to people’s recollections on the arrests, persecution and tortures. In the last quarter of the film, the participants speak about the events that took place in the autumn of 1944, when the village was liberated and when Russians passed through their area. They remember the joy and great expectations because of the oncoming freedom and socialism.
A young seamstress, Ivana quits her job in a sweatshop in Novi Pazar and accepts an offer to become a waitress in a joint privately owned by Mr. Šećo in Gusinje, a Montenegrin village at the Yugoslav-Albanian border. She meets the head waitress and the two become friends soon, and live together. Brothers Skelzen and Becir come to Gusinje from New York on a holiday, they meet the waitresses and a romance ensues. We watch the meeting of Serbian and Albanian cultures, languages, customs and family traditions in the fascinating mountainous landscape. The men promise the girls marriage and life in America. There are numerous obstacles in the realisation of the plan and the brothers return to New York alone.
Belgrade 1994, a man in Marshal Tito’s original uniform appears in different parts of the city. Instantly, groups of people flock around him and get involved in passionate discussions. Almost all of them accept to play the game, complain about the old times in Yugoslavia and blame Tito for everything.