11. Subversive Film Festival winners announced!

Shortly before the Subversive Conference opening, the awards ceremony of the11th Subversive Film Festival was held in kino Europa. This years’ winners of the Wild Dreamer award are Hotel Jugoslavija(Best Documentary Film), Eight Continent(Best Short Film) and Zama(Best Feature Film).

The Wild Dreamer awards in all three categories were judged by a jury consisting of Louis Armand (author and director of the Centre for Critical & Cultural Theory at Charles University, Prague), Marina Banićević (film director) and Ivana Keser (visual artist and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb).

The winner of the Documentary Competition is Hotel Jugoslavija, a film essay in which the author Nicolas Wagnières, somewhere on the border between the private and the collective, past and present, as well as the political and the aesthetical, recounts the story of what was once the grandest and most luxurious hotel in the Balkans. „The author uses the hotel as the starting point in his narration about his family, his relationship towards the state that no longer exists, the turbulences it went through.  In this way, this hotel, albeit of colossal proportions, but nevertheless just a hotel, becomes a synecdoche of a broader scheme of things, a once great state whose collapsing outlines can be read on its walls. However, its abandoned, ruined or reconverted rooms are filmed with precise tracking shots combined with music, leaving no room for cheap sentimentality, or nostalgia that regrets the past because it cannot face the present. Instead the shots invite us to contemplate how one deeply flawed political system has handed over its property to another system which doesn’t know how and cannot deal with this heritage. The interlocutors’ statements as well as the used archival footage and movie fragments underline this impression. The movie quote that fits perfectly into Wagnières’s work is the one from Jovan Jovanovic’s feature film Mlad i zdrav kao ruža (Young and Healthy as a Rose, 1971). It is a film that was shot inside Hotel Jugoslavija and the words of its main character, a criminal interpreted by Dragan Nikolić, foreshadow the time and protagonists who would eventually reign these societies in domains much wider than those of hotel industry. “

The Wild Dreamer award for Best Short Film went to the film Eight Continent by Greek director Yorgos Zois. „This eleven-minute long film was filmed in documentary manner at the Greek island of Lezvos. It witnesses the vestige left behind by waves of refugees in the shape of left behind safety jackets found at sea. The Eight Continent is located, symbolically, at this ancient island whose two craters form an abandoned dump, a graveyard consisting of thousands of life jackets. This pile of waste is being taken care of by one single worker. The film reminds us of individual life stories shaped by uncertainty, people trafficking, the aspiration better life, numerous anonymous hopes and dreams, of all that remains as a vestige of the exodus taking place in the Mediterranean on the way to Fortress Europe. Yorgos Zois’s personal ethics is based on a minimalist aesthetics, silent testament, document, long takes, only a few sequences, a film accentuating the absence of the human voice, focused on capturing the image of a place, where, as the author himself says, interpretation transforms into an experience. “

And finally, Lucrecia Martel‘s long-awaited return to feature film Zama was awarded as the Best Feature Film. „Zama is in many respects a classical film. It elaborates its themes allegorically, as a fable, or even as a myth. A myth of the colonial European idea. At the same time, it is distinctly contemporary – in the way Fellini’s Satyricon& Pasolini’s Qedipus Rex are contemporary. It constructs a neo-colonial critique: the critique of a delusion haunting our world. Staged in a Purgatorio of miscegenated desire, Zama probes the barely disguised irrationalism of the colonial project. What appears to be an Argentine “period drama,” reveals itself to be a contemporary diagnosis of a psychological disease that has never ceased propagating itself. The protagonist, “American-born,” father, by an indigenous woman, of an “illegitimate” child, invests his entire being with the conviction of being “Spanish” – forever waiting, like some antipodean Kafka, for a “transfer” to be authorized from Madrid. The backwater he inhabits is a backwater of the colonial psyche, whose reactionary, absurd doppelganger he himself is. We are told that “Europe is best remembered by those who were never there.” Yet such an impossible nostalgia is never so tormented, never so prone to psychosis, as when it arises within itself: as a nostalgia for something that can never be experienced, because it itself is a myth. This is Zama’s “European” purgatory, hovering between the Old World & the New, while subtly consuming both. “