Masterclass Želimir Žilnik | Cinemateca Portuguesa

On censorship

In this lecture, Zilnik will introduce his film methodology and look back at his experiences, in the nineteen sixties and seventies, when each film produced in Yugoslavia had to be watched by the Komisija za Pregled Filmova (Commission for Reviewing Films), which after screening and discussion gave the Odobrenje za Javno Prikazivanmje (Authorization for Public Screening). Without that signed and sealed paper (which had to be added to all the prints), a film was not allowed to be shown in theatres. This practice existed in other socialistic countries, and also in the West. In 1976, when Žilnik was working in Germany, the film Public Execution was “convicted” by a similar commission, called Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle… This lecture provides context and presents examples of when the censorship commission demanded changes in the films.

1. In a couple of films, the decision was to eliminate some sequences. That was the case of Early Works, The Unemployed, Freedom or Cartoons, and Uprising in Jasak.

2. After 3 months in the movie theatres, Early Works was accused of reflecting the socialist reality with criticism and irony by the public prosecutor, who demanded the court to ban it for good. The trial went on from June 19 to 25, 1969. It was the biggest media coverage of a court case of an “insulting” art work in Yugoslavia. Footage from the courthouse, including Žilnik’s defence speech, will be presented. The process ended with the judge dismissing the accusation.

3. There are other means of stopping films, such as accusing them “ideologically” after having been screened in festivals and theatres. Some films have been proclaimed “anarcho-liberal” and eliminated from the public sphere for over a decade: Little Pioneers, The Unemployed, June Turmoil, Early Works, Black Film, and Uprising in Jazak. In the “transition period” of 1980-90, Oldtimer and Tito Among the Serbs for the Second Time have also been under pressure, but escaped…

The second part of the masterclass will focus on the current film scene, floating in “endless freedom”. The question is: are films more creative, more innovative and braver than the ones from 40-50 years ago…?

28 OCT / 11.00 am, Cinemateca Portuguesa – M. Félix Ribeiro Cinema

The masterclass will be held in English with no translation

Free admittance. Tickets must be collected on that day