How can a new kind of cinema be collectively created within a transnational society? SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA, the cinema-experiment by bi’bak, explores cinema as a space of social discourse, exchange, and solidarity. The curated film series brings together diverse social communities and connects places both near and geographically distant; it links pasts, presents and futures and moves away from a eurocentric gaze towards transnational, (post-)migrant and postcolonial perspectives. SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA is a different kind of cinema, one simultaneously committed to local and international communities, that understands cinema as an important public sphere of sociality; it considers film history as crucial to the work of cultural memory and is committed to a diversity of film culture and film art. In Haus der Statistik at Berlin-Alexanderplatz, SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA builds a bridge between urban practice and film to create a space that opens access, stimulates discussion, educates, moves, provokes and encourages.
SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA is funded by Haupstadtkulturfonds, Conrad Stiftung and the Programm NEUSTART KULTUR
Past event series can be found in the archive.
Wars leave lasting traces, individual and collective, in bodies and across landscapes; trauma perpetuates. The wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s have deeply inscribed themselves in the consciousness of both survivors and their descendants. In the cinematography of the ex-Yugoslavian states and diasporas, an increasing number of films have emerged in recent years which focus on specific traumatic events – namely, the ongoing repression of that which has long been concealed – making use of a wide variety of strategies of reflexive engagement with societies marked by violence. The films gathered here, whether consciously or implicitly feminist, become a means for reflection and processing and therefore change the lives not only of those directly involved. The radically autobiographical perspective seen in the two opening films of the program is one which runs through the entire series. We invite discussion.
Funded by Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa
Borjana Gaković is a film and media scholar. She writes and works as a lecturer in the field of film and cinema culture, and as a curator of mostly historical cinema programs, often with reference to feminisms in film history.
Madeleine Bernstorff lives in Berlin, creates film programs (often in collaboration) and works as a teacher and author, e.g. of Transnationales Lernen an der dffb. In 2016/2017 she supervised the production of 23 short video spots Unraveling the NSU Complex! with the SPOTS group.
Kako sam zapalio Simona Bolivara
The Fuse: Or How I Burned Simon Bolivar
Igor Drljača, Canada 2011, 9 Min. OV with english subtitles
As a young boy, filmmaker Igor Drljača believed he had caused the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 with a prayer that he no longer wished to go to school. Told from a child’s point of view and interwoven with amateur footage, The Fuse: Or How I Burned Simon Bolivar is a profound story about lasting trauma, the absurdity of war, and human surrender to its power.
My Own Private War
Lidija Zelović, Netherlands 2016, 57 Min. OV with english subtitles
Whilst living in exile in Holland, filmmaker and journalist Lidija Zelović sets out to make a “truthful and honest film” about the Yugoslav war of the 1990s: “I need to stop the war inside of my head.” She returns to Bosnia where, confronted with conflict once more, she undertakes endless discussions with family members, childhood friends and work colleagues, those who stayed behind and who, after “50 years of brotherhood and unity”, became perpetrators in the dynamics of war. Her dark voice becomes shrill when visiting the former apartment where her children’s books are still gathering dust, and a former sniper describes how he took up arms with an unnerving twitch. The speechlessness, the rift between the two sides, becomes increasingly clear: “You are not my enemy. - I'm starting to feel like one.” Splitscreens point out simultaneities and illustrate chasmic ruptures.
Lidija Zelovic studied Yugoslav literature at the University of Sarajevo and worked as a TV presenter. After the war broke out in 1992, she started studying film at the University of Amsterdam. She worked as a journalist in various war zones and directed and produced documentary films for Dutch, British and German public broadcasters.
Genosse Tito, ich erbe
Comrade Tito, I inherit
Olga Kosanović, Germany/Austria 2021, 27 Min. OV with english subtitles
The Austrian Olga Kosanović will one day inherit her grandparents’ garden house in Serbia, an inheritance which also seems to include her family's socialist past. Homeland is complicated, inheritance perhaps a burden, and Tito becomes a symbolic figure for something which has passed. In the bedroom of the summerfamily residence, her mother proclaims her a pioneer. In this house with an orchard that sits on a mountainside in the midst of lush nature, three generations are confronted with the question of what has changed, in personal and grand histories, and what is preserved as it becomes embedded within various migration experiences.
Jugoslavija – kako je ideologija pokretala naše kolektivno telo
Yugoslavia – How Ideology Moved Our Collective Body
Marta Popivoda, Serbia/France/Germany 2013, 62 Min. OV with english subtitles
A revealing compilation of mass stagings from the Tito era and after: crude TV archive images with rare footage of post-war youth labor actions, colorful dances and relay races celebrating Tito's birthday, the student protests of 1968, and violent, mass choreographies of the 1990s in Serbia. The restaging of human bodies as part of a collective, social sculpture raises questions about collectivity and individuality and how they relate to systems of power. Ideology exhausts itself.
Marta Popivoda is a filmmaker, video artist, and researcher. Her work explores memory and history, collective and individual bodies, as well as ideology and everyday life, with a focus on antifascist and feminist potentialities of the Yugoslav socialist project. For several years she has been part of the TkH (Walking Theory) collective.
U ratu i revoluciji
In War and Revolution
Ana Bilankov, Croatia 2011, 15 Min. OV with english subtitles
Using the example of a book published by her grandfather during the time of socialist Yugoslavia, Ana Bilankov addresses the banishing of books in 1990s Croatia as representative of the erasure of (collective) memory. She juxtaposes this with an interview with her 97-year-old grandmother, a woman who struggles with memory loss and the constraints imposed by suppression.
Tiha K. Gudac, Croatia 2014, 75 Min. OV with english subtitles
In this biographical documentary of her family, Tiha K. Gudac tackles a dark chapter of Yugoslav real socialism – the persecution of the "politically unsuitable", those declared “enemies of the people” in Tito's Yugoslavia. The director's grandfather survived the political prison camp on the barren island of Goli otok, a place where torture and brutal harassment were part of everyday life. A subject never broached within the family, her grandfather took his story to the grave. In conversations with family members and friends and with the help of a personal photographic archive, Gudac tries to understand where the scars on her grandfather's body came from.
Ana Bilankov is an artist who works with photography, video, experimental film and installation. She has been a fellow of various international studio residencies and has presented work at numerous exhibitions. Her award-winning films have been shown at a variety of film and video festivals.
Trigger warning: The films show explicit images of murdered people.
After the screening talk with Borjana Gaković and Madeleine Bernstorff
Crvene gumene čizme
Red Rubber Boots
Jasmila Žbanić, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2000, 18 Min. OV with english subtitles
When Jasna's two children were abducted by Serbian soldiers during the Bosnian war, her son Amar was four years old, her daughter Ajla just nine months. Years after this terrible event, Jasmila Žbanić accompanies Jasna as she tries to find the remains of her children in the mass graves opened after the war. Their bodies should have decomposed by now, she says in an almost unbearable moment, but Amar was wearing red rubber boots, so they might have lasted.
Dečko kojem se žurilo
The Boy Who Rushed
Biljana Čakić-Veselič, Croatia 2001, 52 Min. OV with english subtitles
The director's search for traces of her brother, who disappeared in the early 1990s during the war in Croatia, becomes an attempt to reconstruct his personality. What kind of person was Ivan and how does he live on in the memories of those who loved and knew him? In her search, Čakić-Veselič finds countless traces of destruction: in the gardens of abandoned houses there lie remains, scattered bones, a mass grave. Disturbingly, we learn about the everyday lives of the survivors, those who find human skulls and bones during fieldwork. It is not until nine years after the filming began that Ivan's remains are identified.
After the screening talk with Borjana Gaković and Madeleine Bernstorff
Transferred Memories –Embodied Documents
Ana Hoffner ex-Prvulović*, Austria 2014, 15 Min. OV with english subtitles
In this sound and video installation, Ana Hoffner ex-Prvulović*, together with actress Vivien Löschner, reflects on the confrontation with video images from the Omarska camp, where atrocities were systematically committed against prisoners during the Bosnian War. The second aspect of the installation refers to the testimony of a survivor, which is restatedin the first person. A queer attempt to respond to images of atrocities without repeating them.
A Good Wife
Mirjana Karanović, Serbia 2016, 94 Min. OV with english subtitles
The directorial debut of the grand dame of Yugoslavian cinema, actress Mirjana Karanović, is a political statement. The protagonist Milena, a wealthy woman in her 50s, is a mother and wife – she cleans, cooks and keeps the family unit together despite her rebellious daughters who are slowly becoming adults. She doesn't understand, or perhaps simply doesn't want to understand, the older daughters' accusations against her father – until one day, while cleaning, she discovers a VHS tape that exposes her loving husband as a war criminal. Milena must make a decision since acting as a good woman means no longer being a good wife. A symbol-laden film inspired by historical events, fiction is used as an intervention in mainstream cinema to stand against the silence of accomplices. In the director's words, "This is not a film about crimes, but about how we relate to them."
After the screening talk with Borjana Gaković and Madeleine Bernstorff
Widmung für ein Haus
Irena Vrkljan, Germany 1966, 5 Min. German OV
Potsdamer Platz, Berlin: “It is November 1966. In two years this house will no longer exist. The street will forget the history of this house.” Vrkljans last image, her last glance, is of a tree growing on a patch of wasteland. Born in 1930, the Yugoslavian film student produced this film in the first year the DFFB was founded; it speaks about traces, about the remnants left by war set against the background of her own war experiences as a teenager.
Za one koje ne mogu da govore
For Those Who Can Tell No Tales
Jasmila Žbanić, Bosnia und Herzegovina 2013, 72 Min. OV with english subtitles
Australian performance artist Kym Vercoe's search for romantic, historical places in Bosnia leads her to Višegrad, to “The Bridge on the Drina", where she unsuspectingly finds herself in the midst of an ignorant, post-war society full of perpetrators; former rape camps serve as hotels and the violence of the recent past palpably permeates every pore of everyday life. Though she too is suspected, intimidated, interrogated, nothing can stop her from grieving. In a reckoning with the entrenched narrative of the well-known book by Nobel Prize winner for literature Ivo Andrić, Jasmila Žbanić creates a visible memorial to the women who were systematically subjected to sexual violence as a weapon of war, focussing on the sites of these crimes as places which bore witness. The footage of these places cannot be divided into fictional or documentary categories; rather, an overriding sense of horror makes both unmistakably real and tangible.
With an introduction by Merima Omeragić
Sonya Schönberger, Germany 2020/2021, 8 Min. without dialogue
Between 2012 and 2014, the Landesdenkmalamt (the authority in charge of Berlin’s monuments) and researchers from Freie Universität Berlin searched for traces of a Nazi forced labor camp that was located on the edge of Tempelhofer Feld from 1941 to 1945. Several objects and fragments were found, including 14,000 nails, rusted and bent, in a wide variety of sizes; a sober study of the ephemeral nature of memory traces.
Zeugin aus der Hölle
Živorad Mitrović based on the screenplay by Frida Filipović, Yugoslavia/BRD 1966, 83 Min. German OV
Irene Papas, known for the globally successful film Zorba the Greek, makes a star turn as Lea Weiss, a concentration camp survivor whose testimony is urgently needed to bring an escaped perpetrator and careerist in post-war Germany to trial. Shortly after the war, Lea told her story to journalist Bora Petrović. Petrović and a prosecutor from the Ludwigsburg Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes try to convince her to testify, 15 years after the end of the war. Yet, terrorized by henchmen of the perpetrator, Lea knows she is not able to relive her traumatic memories or reconstruct the suffering she experienced at the trial. A historically singular and ambitious film, it was co-produced by CCC-Filmkunst Berlin by Artur Brauner and Avala-Film Belgrade.
Merima Omeragić works at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sarajevo. The focus of her research is on women’s literature, film, and the history of women’s art. She deals with feminist, gender and queer studies, transnational studies, as well as the intersectional theory.
Kad umrem, radite šta hoćete
When I Die You Can Do What You Want
Adela Jušić, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2011, 19 Min. OV with english subtitles
Originally conceived as a video installation for a gallery space, this powerful work from Adela Jušić unleashes its full artistic potential in the darkness of the cinema on the big screen: a full frontal view of the wrinkled, pained face of her grandmother as the artist colors her hair. The soundtrack features Jušić whispering the memories of her now deceased grandmother in an unbroken stream; a woman who, at the end of her life, appeared to draw a kind of conclusion through a comparison of the two wars she survived.
Before the Fall There Was No Fall, Episode 2: Surfaces
Anna Dasović, Netherlands/Austria 2020, 20 Min. OV with english subtitles
Anna Dasović examines a series of wall drawings by Dutch soldiers in a UN camp in the immediate vicinity of Srebrenica that were never intended for the public. Before the Fall There Was No Fall, Episode 2: Surfaces revolves around rhetorical structures, not only those that make violence visible but those which conceal the politically undesirable. Focus is placed on the figure of the "bystander" and the ways in which the "unimaginable" and the "unrepresentable" are evoked in order to deflect responsibility thereby allowing violence to occur.
Renata Poljak, France/Croatia 2005, 17 Min. OV with english subtitles
Drawing on her own family history, Renata Poljak tells of the postwar architecture on the Croatian coast and how it represents a new and violent value system in which capitalism, ruthlessness, and nationalism thrive.
Gaby Babić, born in 1976 in Frankfurt am Main, is a cultural worker and program curator. She directs the Kinothek Asta Nielsen and Remake: Frankfurter Frauen Film Tage (Frankfurter Women’s Film Days). Her work focusses on film and history, critical theory, migration, Eastern European cinema, feminist film work, anti-racism and anti-fascism.
“Imagine if we went back 30 seconds into the past. Imagine that! We just go back, for no reason whatsoever.” Croatia in the 1990s: Marko takes photos, Ivan wants to make movies. Together they make radio shows and play computer games, hang out with friends, listen to Fela Kuti, travel to the Croatian coast without money, or to Slovenia to see new movies – even if they have to spend a cold winter’s night in a worn-out Renault 4 without working heating.
Croatia today: Ivan is alive, Marko is no more. A collaborative film is made 13 years after his death in which the story of Marko's life is told through the captivating black-and-white photos he took and off-screen narration from Ivan, Marko's sister, his girlfriends, and members of his clique at the time. This intimate story about a particular youthhood in 1990s Croatia is about abysses and a touching tribute to friendship and lightheartedness set against the backdrop of a destructive war that is omnipresent and yet not broached as a topic.