Dusan Makavejev's Short Films Retrospective

in 49th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen

by Sasa Radojevic

Dusan Makavejev’s short films, synonimous of the legendary Belgrade Cinema Club, should be watched in sequence, because some of the obsession the young Makavejev instrumentalizes in them only become really clear through repetition, which has the effects that the films detach themselves radically from the very reality they seem to represent.

Succesfully, and above all humorously, Makavejev in his early years insisted on converting and transposing film reality to reveal certain defects and flaws. For example, in Parade (Parade, 1962), Makavejev shows the preparations of a First of May Parade in Belgrade. The film was immediately banned as “offensive and ironic” probably because it ends before the actual parade begins. After some cosmetic cuts the ban is lifted.

Makavejev dedicated many of his early films to children. For Makavejev the children neither represent the paradigm of innocence and pure feelings. The children in his films are free to do all the things adults are not allowed to do. A little boy and girl visit a chocolate factory and yawn during the meetings of the worker’s council in What is a Worker’s Council? (Što je to radnicki savjet?, 1969). They breaks through the barricades and look for new ways to freedom in Down With the Fences (Dole plotovi, 1962). (By pure accident, the film Down With the Fences was completed after the raising of the Berlin Wall.)

And last, but not least, Makavejev short films serve as an introduction to his long and famous films (Man is Not a Bird, WR: Mysteries of the Organizm, Sweet Movie, Montenegro…) when he constantly combined documentary and fiction elements. For example, he showed at the Oberhausen film festival part of his movie Love Affair (Ljubavni slucaj sluzbenice PTT-a, 1967), when Makavejev presents perhaps the crucial case of “sensual cooking”, where cooking has strong sexual allusions. Lovers, in a documentary way, combine eating with intimacy.