Serbia – Moments of Beauty and Joy 6

In between the yearly Magnificent 7, The Popovics (Svetlana and Zoran), the organisers of the festival, that takes place every year in January in Belgrade, and has done so for seven years, with my privileged post as co-selector of the seven films to be screened, have arranged the most beautiful (almost) film-free tours for me and my wife. The reason why this post is numbered 6 refers to the fact that we 3 years ago went to the South of Serbia, this time to the North, to Vojvodina. And if anyone wants to have the most competent, dedicated and knowledgeable introduction to culture and history, as well as current life situation of the Serbs, The Popovics is the best you can get for tours in Serbia. And please remember to hire Mijovic Milovan, Misko, the 2 meter high warm and safe driver to take you around in his combi.

Vojvodina… flat most of the time, full of colours, villages to watch when driving down the long and straight roads with houses behind the trees that line the road and with benches for the inhabitants to sit and enjoy the wonderful, sunny autumn weather. Sava Sumanovic (1896-1942) painted these roads again and again, as well as winter landscapes that demonstrated that he was ”a master of light”, as Zoran Popovic put it. His museum in Sid, close to Belgrade, clearly documents why Sumanovic was highly estimated internationally, (also) due to his stay in Paris where several of his paintings include the flamboyant Kiki de Montparnasse as model.

Flat, yes, but Fruska Gora mountains break this with its national park, and invites you to vineyards (try the kadarka grape) and monasteries with frescoes of great beauty.

Back to visual art, to mention the Pavle Beljanski Museum in Novi Sad. The diplomat (1892-1965) acquired the most complete collection of Serbian

paintings from the first half of the 20th century and the exhibition rooms invite you to see works of Sumanovic, Bijelic (photo) and Nadeda Petrović, just to mention three artists, whose works pleased the eyes of this blogger.

Which was also very much the case at the Kovacica Centre of Naive Art, placed in one of those typical Vojvodina villages, a house discreetly behind the trees, and you open the door to the works of ”the Queen of Naive art” Zuzana Halupova and Martin Jonas, both of Slovak origin, the latter famous for giving his characters biiig hands and feet. Please click on the links below to watch examples of the artists mentioned.

Back in Belgrade, we went South again, having the pleasure of watching a rough-almost-fine-cut of Sonja Blagojevic upcoming film from Kosovo. The film, produced by Kvadrat, the company of The Popovics, describes the difficult life of Serbs in Kosovo, seen from the point of view of people working with Kosma (working title of the film), five radio stations that broadcast in Serbian language. Blagojevic has worked on the film for three years and what has come out of it is an impressive professional work, warm and non-agressive, informational and emotional. This is the first time I have seen such a decent insight to the life conditions of the Serbs in Kosovo, made from a positive angle – the engaged radio people, who want to communicate and convey facts and emotions. Watch out for this film, festival people!

Photo: Jovan Bijelic: Bather (1929), part of the Pavle Beljanski Collection.

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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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