Fillmofil.ba proudly represents the works of young critics done in program Talents Sarajevo of 25th Sarajevo Film Festival
Written by: Alexander Gabelia
SEE FACTORY: SARAJEVO MON AMOUR (2019) brings together five short films by a host of young directors from Southeast Europe pairing them with peers from other parts of the world. All chapters in this omnibus offer reflections on romance and nowadays reality, as felt in the hearts of different ethnic groups, generations, and social classes. SPIT, directed by Neven Samardžić (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Carolina Markowitz (Brazil), is one of the shorts included in this cinematic love letter.
The narrative structure of the film divides representatives of two marginal groups, in particular two Roma young siblings and a Bosnian woman who works in a local shop. We get to learn that she is economically exploited which is expressed by the low-paid job, long shifts, and scenes with her grumpy, even abusive boss. On the one hand, the filmmakers do not manipulate the woman’s being, show us her alienated family routine and daily work with realistic cinematic expression. On the other hand, they refuse to romanticize the Roma adolescents and their existence (as opposed to Emir Kusturica’s early films) and that’s why the aesthetics are so naturalistic that sometimes the viewer may feel an unusual discomfort. While SPIT’s color palette may remind us of the Brazilian Walter Salles’ movies, well-choreographed Dardennian hand-held tracking shots are never dictating an emotional response and sequentially inform observers of the story.
In Yugoslavia there were always political movemens for Roma rights. However, David Crowe (Professor of History, Elon University) describes most in detail about the situation of Roma in Yugoslavia back at the time and refers that multi-national policies strengthened Romani national identity, but still many Roma people suffered by poverty and social marginalization through that period. After the collapse of the socialist camp, the post-Yugoslav states started again (NGO style) to take care of the Roma, so several organizations and foundations were established. The question of their autonomy also was on the European Union’s agenda, but in most cases it didn’t work out. This policy did not eliminate discrimination and was not able “humanize” this ethnic group, because its basis was simulated (it focused on phantom changes and had a “prophylactic” nature). For the reason that the present-day situation has not changed fundamentally, Samardžić and Markowitz don’t shy away from the social reality of Europe (particularly in Sarajevo), focus on marginalized groups and tell us about the classes that have to live on the edge of the social divide. Accordingly, the cine-camera is aimed at ordinary people instead of superheroes, and protagonists’ problems and conflicts stem from external social circumstances.
In SPIT the two Roma kids usually beg in front of the shop. The relationship between them and the woman initially lacks elements of conflict, but the boss always has a discriminating attitude towards all of them them (this is being articulated more in terms of economic and cultural hegemony). The main mise-en-scène is played when the “hired slave” is forced to throw the children out of the “public” space. The Roma girl spits on the woman who slaps her in the face in response. We see how the two oppressed classes collide with one another, instead of uniting with common problems. In this case ideology represents both the belief of a particular class and a system of false ideas, which can be contrasted with true consciousness and all systems of belief in classes are based on deception and illusion. According to the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci, the ideology that produces false consciousne is actually a misrepresentation of the social relationships. “The people themselves are not a homogeneous cultural collectivity but present numerous and variously combined cultural stratifications…”
SPIT’s poetic realism centralizes the importance of feelings and therefore produces a critical view-point: instead of understanding freedom in a vulgar form, it gives us internal freedom, which helps us to deepen the knowledge of the basics of social conflicts. So the filmmakers have not blamed either side and show us that the culprit is the system that produces these relationships.