Although ghostly interiors of the Hotel Yugoslavia in Belgrade owe much to Austrian director Nikolaus Geyrhalter (code: Homo Sapiens), Wagnières does not limit his interest to pursuit of better times of once the “greatest hotel in the Balkans”, a symbol of socialist grandeur. Instead, he uses it as a full-blooded, yet a non-nostalgic essay on the disintegration of Yugoslavia and its brotherhood and unity. From the existing footage, he is only left with a short promotional spot from the seventies, in German, and the orgy scene from Jovanović’s Young and Healthy as a Rose, which was shot in one of the hotel rooms. Wagnières’ procede intertwines the intimate and the political. The hotel is thus not the only spectre in the film – it is the state during which it was built. Although, for the author, more potency hold the nineties, when the hotel had become lodging for UNPROFOR, and the headquarters of Arkan’s mafia ventures, until it was targeted by NATO’s projectiles. Out of the hotel inventory, scattered around its decrepit rooms, there are only flags left, a sad reminders of times where its salons inhabited different guests and foreign delegacies.
Nicolas Wagnières was born in Lausanne, in 1971. He is a vinyl seller, music producer and DJ. He graduated from the Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD), where he worked as research assistant for five years. He works in theater video and choreography. Hotel Yugoslavia is his feature documentary debut.