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THE ENTHUSIASTS ARCHIVE

Banner stills L to R: Encounters, courtesy Croatian Film Association;
Anthony's Broken Mirror
and Vowels, courtesy Alternative Film Archive, Academic Film Center, Belgrade

Raven (Gavran)
Nikola Đurić, Serbia, 1973, 16 mm transfer to Blu-ray, 6 minutes 30 seconds

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Still from Raven, courtesy Alternative Film Archive
Academic Film Center, Belgrade

Nikola Đurić (b. 1949) first became a filmmaker as a member of the Belgrade-based “alternative film” circle of the Academic Film Club (Akademski Kino Klub, later renamed Academic Film Center / Akademski Film Centar) in the late 1960s. While there, he was influenced, among other things, by the works presented at the GEFF competitions of the 1960s. He eventually became a professional cinematographer but remained active with the amateur club, chairing it for two years in the 1970s and working since 2011 as the curator of the Alternative Film Archive, which is part of the Academic Film Center.

At the cinema club, Đurić became the creator of several distinguished structuralist films, including Raven. The filmmaker chose the visually striking motif of a flying bird accidentally while testing out a film printer he had made. The film was created slowly through a long process of looking for the kinesthetic properties of the footage, and it conveys the motion of a bird in flight in great detail. Although devoid of literary or narrative dimension, the film also has a poetic and metaphorical charge, which contains contradictory cultural associations evoked by bird flight as the symbol of freedom and the raven as a harbinger of bad news or death.  — Diana Nenadić

With thanks to Nikola Đurić and Miodrag Milošević, Head of the Academic Center at the Student City Cultural Center (Akademski Filmski Centar Dom Kulture Studentski Grad), Belgrade, and to the entire staff of the AFC for their help with research and making a screening of this film possible in Washington. With special thanks also to the Film Center Serbia (Filmski Centar Srbije), Belgrade, which generously sponsored the digital restoration of this film shortly before its screening in Washington.

Vowels (Samoglasnici)
Nikola Đurić, Serbia, 1973, 16 mm transfer to Blu-ray, 7 minutes 45 seconds

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Still from Vowels, courtesy Alternative Film Archive
Academic Film Center, Belgrade

In making his structuralist film Vowels, Nikola Đurić was inspired by Arthur Rimbaud’s sonnet of the same name in which the French poet, striving to achieve the effect of synesthesia, associated each vowel with a particular color, visual impression, sound, and/or scent. In contrast to the poet, Đurić lists all the vowels in alphabetical order in the first section of the film, “depriving” them of Rimbaud’s colors and meanings (the film was shot in black and white). Instead, Đurić associates them with certain elements of cinematographic language: camera movements, dynamics within the frame, editing, and the like. Thus, for example, the insert title “A” announces a sequence of pans over city roofs; “E,” a series of static shots of city streets with a diagonal movement of human figures within the frame; “I, ” jump cuts, usually of movement within the frame; and “O,” rapid movement and tracking forward with a handheld camera. “U” follows Rimbaud’s association of this vowel with “green” and shows dissolving images of various natural landscapes. The second part of the film, created by combining newly recorded and found footage, represents a direct homage both to Rimbaud’s poetry and to the specific qualities of the film medium. Here, the vowels regain their original Rimbaud-esque colors (through the use of toned stock), the poet his recognizable face, and his words their appearance (through the use of photographs, signatures, documents, and so on). Đurić also uses various meta-medium signals (such as blanks, countdowns, trailers, and technical marks from other people’s films) to remind us that we’ve been witnessing the transfer of poetry into the film medium.  — Diana Nenadić

With thanks to Nikola Đurić and Miodrag Milošević, Head of the Academic Film Center at the Student City Cultural Center (Akademski Filmski Centar Dom Kulture Studentski Grad), Belgrade, and to the entire staff of the AFC for their help with research and making the presentation of this film in Washington possible. With special thanks also to the Film Center Serbia (Filmski Centar Srbije), Belgrade, which generously sponsored the digital restoration of this film shortly before its screening in Washington.

The First Photo of Me Ever Taken (Kako su me prvi put fotografirali)
Milenko Jovanović
, Serbia, 1972, 8 mm transfer to Blu-ray, 1 minute

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Still from The First Photo of Me Ever Taken
courtesy Alternative Film Archive, Academic Film Center, Belgrade

Full of conceptual irony, this one-minute-long self-portrait made by Milenko Jovanović consists mainly of opening and closing credits, with a rapid flicker in the middle of a photograph of a baby. The infant is visible for only a fraction of a second and goes by too fast for the audience to see it properly. The image of the photograph remains visible on the screen for about the length of time it took to make the initial exposure. Seen as a moving rather than a still image in real time, the photograph stops being a reliable document and becomes an afterimage, a memory of something one cannot really remember. This is a particularly suitable way for a man to present a photograph of himself as a young child since he most likely cannot recall either the event of being photographed or himself at that age. The transposition of photography into cinema allows Jovanović to bring attention to the most basic structural quality of each medium (stillness for one; motion over time for the other) while commenting slyly on the way each film-based medium can participate in forming our sense of self by giving (or not giving) us particular kinds of images to illustrate our personal narratives.  — Diana Nenadić

With thanks to Miodrag Milošević, Head of the Academic Film Center at the Student City Cultural Center (Akademski Filmski Centar Dom Kulture Studentski Grad), Belgrade, and to the entire staff of the AFC for their help with research and making the presentation of this film in Washington possible. With special thanks also to the Film Center Serbia (Filmski Centar Srbije), Belgrade, which generously sponsored the digital restoration of this film shortly before its screening in Washington.