Nenad Puhovski: Generation 68

I have known Nenad Puhovski for almost 20 years. His contribution to the development of Croatian documentary is enormous as a teacher, producer, director and ZagrebDox festival initiator and director. He was on the board of EDN (European Documentary Network), when I was director the same place and I have had the pleasure of helping him as a juror at his festival, have made a retrospective the same place and pushed forward the industry part of the festival. So now you know the connection between film director and reviewer.

That he – who has (almost) the same age as me, who has semi-retired if that is an English word – also has had the energy to make this film about ”our” generation: Bravo! And as he wrote to me, when he sent the link for ”Generation 68”, the film is touring the ex-Yugoslav region to festivals and receives a lot of positive feedback. Of course, it is a documentation of high quality.

… as it is a well researched – as he presents it himself – ”homage to the generation with which the author share the idea of a revolution that will change the world…”. And a clever one in the way questions are raised concerning the magic year 1968; what was it, what happened, what is important today, is it at all important what the students at that time believed in, are there values that have survived – or, as it is being formulated, ”are we not just fighting for a better past”.

Nenad seeks answer through visiting a lot of friends, important personalities in the student movement; they remember, they give answers to his questions, archive material is being used, he went to Paris at that time, protested against the Vietnam war, as well as against the Soviet invasion of Czekoslovakia, there were summer camps with Marcuse present and so on so forth.

The danger with a method like this is of course that interview follows interview, that the film gets extremely wordy and Nenad does not avoid to put me as a viewer into being bored at many points because those being interviewed, who I don’t know in beforehand, are not all interesting to look at and to listen to. But they were part of it, so they have to be in, the argument seems to have been. Slobodan ”Bobo” Drakulic, sociologist, is one of the clear exceptions, I could have listened much more to him and his personal story, I sense that Nenad was close to him, when he goes to the place in Toronto, where he lived and makes him become alive in a beautiful archive sequence, where he takes off his glasses.

Yes, I would have loved more cinematic pearls like this, to have become more emotionally involved, to have more Nenad and less others being interviewed but I understand that this was not the intention, Nenad has wanted to do an homage to a generation that did something valuable that for most of the people in the film have had no impact at all. And for the children of Nenad, two grown-up women, the so-called values of 68, space to talk, tolerance etc. have not been practised by their father and mother in their upbringing. It’s a great scene, Nenad being spanked – with love and humour.

And yet, the Occupy Movement… the images of police knocking down demonstrators in streets all over, is it not the same revolutionary actions taking place as almost 50 years ago, the director asks, in a film that in between finds its tone of reflection, of melancholy… Back to Bobo who expresses his sadness to have seen the Eastern European countries get their freedom… to be able to work 16 hours a day to reach what…

Croatia, 2016, 86 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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