Punk’s Not Dead, What about You?

2nd FEMF – Festival of European and Mediterranean Film, Koper, Slovenia, 12 – 16 October 2011

  • Punk’s Not Dead (Pankot ne e mrtov), directed by Vladimir Blaževski

    The 2nd FEMF – Festival of European and Mediterranean Film in the Slovenian coastal city of Koper has closed, but still flashing before one’s eyes are scenes from the movie Punk’s Not Dead which won the Fedeora jury’s best festival film award. Film critics from the region, from the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, can rightly ask: “All is good and fine, but what does punk-culture, punk-music and punk-life have to do with the humble, quiet and perhaps excessively withdrawn Serbo-Macedonian director and screenwriter Vladimir Blaževski?”, who has long since replaced the job of a film director with the job of professor at the Film Academy in Skopje, the Macedonian capital. At first glance – nothing. This would be the answer to the above question, until one sees his new movie, the Macedonian-Serbian production Punk’s Not Dead (Pankot ne e mrtov) with which, after inexplicably long years of a creator’s pause (he made Revolution Boulevard way back in 1992), Blaževski was resurrected on the film scene in the best possible way with youthful energy and full of life!

    Punk’s Not Dead (Pankot ne e mrtov), directed by Vladimir BlaževskiThe very story of Punk, a movie made in Macedonia, and also modestly supported by funds from the Serbian Ministry of Culture, is somewhat unbelievable for all those who are not very familiar with punk-culture or do not know what punk life means. The main characters are old and withered Macedonian punks (the Macedonians will gladly boast of having the first punk bands in the former Yugoslavia, right after the Slovenians). Forty-year-olds stuck in time and space, without any meaningful prospects in life, in a country where weeds grow more than roses. The idea of a non-governmental organization rallying once again, after 17 years, their once popular band and organizing a concert for them in Debar, with a majority Albanian population, becomes the prime-mover of the road movie that searches for the band members, scattered throughout the former Yugoslav republics.

    Of course, at the end, this non-governmental business fails, the Albanians interrupt the concert and provoke a fight, while Macedonian extreme nationalists greet the musicians with their fists. The punks did receive their share of a beating but, in one short night, they proved that punk and punk anarchism are not dead, and that they themselves are still alive – full of life and ready for anything only when they are on the stage with their music. Through a story about people on the social margins, Blaževski subtly sent out all the messages, which such a movie needed to send. At a time of transition even society itself is one big margin. Quite devastating, but it is most frequently so. The audience understood the masterfully directed and stylistically consistent film well and rewarded it, from beginning to end it with much applause.
    72 Days (Sedamdeset i dva dana), directed by Danilo Šerbedžija
    There is yet another movie which I personally would single out from this year’s FEMF, possibly also because I find its topic very close. At issue is the debutant film of Croatian screenwriter and director Danilo Šerbedžija – 72 Days (Sedamdeset i dva dana) which begins with an unusual scene of the throwing the stone from the shoulder game – and bam (!), the stone falls on the only sign of life in the deserted field of Lika (a region in Croatia) – a newly sprung snowdrop.Made up of a comedy of characters and grotesque, little bizarre things in life and a thriller plot, Danilo’s film, although not flawless, is a sufficiently entertaining movie which the whole family can enjoy.

    The characters of 72 Days largely resemble the legendary heroes of The Marathon Family (by the very famous Serbian and Yugoslav director Slobodan Šijan), that miraculous brotherhood chained in patriarchy and a relentless family-hierarchical order. True, these are not Šijan’s Topalovićs, but the Paripovićs – hardheaded Serbs from the Lika Karst. There are two brothers– master Mane (Rade Šerbedžija) and Joja (Bogdan Diklić), generally disappointed in life; their sons Todor (Živko Anočić) and Branko (Krešimir Mikić), and the grandmother (Mira Banjac in a double role) whom everyone is endeavoring to please since she receives an American pension every month. Intelligently and humorously, Danilo Šerbedžija builds the story around four men who, doing absolutely nothing in life, prove the possible impossible – that there is bread without hoe! They live off the grandmother’s pension, until the moment she dies. But even then, the leader of the family clan – stubborn, egoistical and greedy Mane, will find a solution – from the nearby old people’s home, he will kidnap an old woman similar in appearance, but not by temperament, to the late grandmother and the dollars will continue to arrive…
    72 Days (Sedamdeset i dva dana), directed by Danilo Šerbedžija
    Entangled into this whole story is the neighbor, Mile, a Croat who saved the Paripovićs in the war and who can neither live with Mane nor without him and their daily bickering (a remarkable role of Dejan Aćimović). Then there is also the local policeman, a true simpleton who believes he is a detective (another masterly role of Nebojša Glogovac), Branko’s girlfriend Liča (Lucija Šerbedžija) and the always drunk village postman Luka (the prematurely deceased Predrag Vušović)… 72 Days is not a political film. In it the topic of war and ethnic relations are touched upon in the function of determining who belongs to whom, who remembers what or possibly who is saying what behind someone else’s back. This is also a very strong film in the acting sense and the first Croatian post-war movie in which the main characters are Croatian Serbs…

    Danilo Šerbedžija firmly holds the reins. True, there is no great inventiveness, but one is very pleased to see that he actually relies on some of the classics of Yugoslav cinematography (the films of Šijan, Živko Nikolić…). setting the rhythm, atmosphere and coloring of this film wisely and very well, thus successfully also portraying both the geographic origin and the unchangeable mentality of his characters. Also visible are the contributions of cameraman Saša Rendulić, screenwriter Mario Ivezić and costume designer Željka Franulović. The original music for the film was composed by Miroslav Tadić, and “for seventy two days, this heart of mine bleeds…” are the lines of Meho Puzić’s memorable Bosnian love song (sevdalinka), which we also remembered in the rendition by the famous Yugoslav folk singer Predrag Cune Gojković…

    Dubravka Lakić, Serbia, FEDEORA jury member