Mila Turajlic’s brash and
diverting – if slightly disorganised – documentary illustrates how closely
Yugoslavian cinema was tied to the Tito regime. Funded by workers, starring
soldiers who lent them whatever authenticity they had, these films were often
script-approved by Tito himself, an acutely image-aware movie buff. Extracts
suggest endless partisan dust-ups and labour-camp singalongs (“Carrying rocks
is so much fun!”) sustaining the co-productions that brought Orson Welles,
among others, to the country, though one wishes Turajlic had labelled them more
diligently: if all this dead ideology really merits further study – as lessons
from history, like those Soviet tractor musicals – we needed to have their
titles close by. Her interviews are revealing, though: as industry survivors
kick around the FYR’s rusting, dusty infrastructure, what emerges is a
region-specific form of ostalgie –
for a time when the Balkan states played on the very same soundstage.
Cinema Komunisto is in selected cinemas ahead of its DVD release on December 3.