In the panel “The Eastern European Cinematic Library,” Concordia PhD candidate Katarina Mihailovic presented on her dissertation “Rhythm with Light: Belgrade Postwar Film Club Experimentalism and the Legacy of the Avant-garde.” Mihailovic’s presentation sought to elevate the Belgrade Film Club, founded in 1951, as something far more significant than a mere stepping stone to the New Wave. She considers the Film Club’s formal preoccupations, and the role of the avant-garde in establishing such preoccupations.
Mihailovic began the presentation by listing the roles of the Belgrade Film Club: unofficial film school, facility, cinematheque, library, and theatre. Not only did the Film Club provide individuals with films to watch, they also provided them with the technical and theoretical tools to create them. Above all else, the Film Club emphasized the importance of graphic visuals when producing a film. More precisely, they were concerned with rhythm and light. Mihailovic identifies the importance of experimentation in the Film Club and considers three primary ways that it impacted production.
Experimentation allowed filmmakers to improve their technical and creative skills, especially within a flexible production model. Further aiding this process, the Film Club produced films as a collective, thereby encouraging mutual instruction. Finally, the interest in experimentalism reflects the Film Club’s quest for a “pure cinema” comprising of the basic film elements, including montage and movement within the frame. Mihailovic’s presentation argued that the Belgrade Film Club were fearful of speech, and felt a general nostalgia for silent cinema. Through this historical analysis, Mihaolovic opened new avenues for further in depth consideration of Yugoslavian cinema.
Following Mihailovic’s work was an interesting presentation by Vera Koshkina of Harvard University, who considered the film Soy Cuba. Jennifer Wild of University of Chicago responded to both presentations and found Mihailovic’s work of particular interest for its relationship with and influence of French experimental cinema. Especially following the presentation and subsequent discussion, we are very excited to see this research continue at Concordia!
– words by Ben Browning