The documentary “Hej Sloveni! YU-Nostalgia as phenomenon of everyday life” (working titel) asks for the continued existence of a Yugoslav identity after the dissolution of the country of Yugoslavia and for the desires and projections connected with. In addition, it asks for the difficult process of the redefinition of identities in the course of transition. In the focus is the phenomenon of Jugonostalgija (YU-Nostalgia) – the longing to the former Yugoslavia. What are the different attitudes to that, what are the motifs of YU-nostalgia and anti-YU-nostalgia? How do various cities, regions, generations, men and women memorize a state  that imploded two decades ago?

The documentary has been produced by a team consisting of Aleksandra Vedernjak, Josefina Bajer and Daniela Mehler within the scope of the association „SEE.ID – in Dialoge with South-Eastern Europe“. The production was supported by the Vice Rectorate for International Relations at Karl-Franzens-University of Graz and by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Germany. The cutting and editing process is done by Branka Pavlović. The shooting was predominantly done in the centers of former Yugoslavia (Ljubljana, Zagreb, Sarajevo and Belgrade) but is also reflecting impressions from the diaspora and other places of nostalgia.

Longtime not read! But despite of not reporting the team was really busy in the meantime. The post-production is running! And now the post-production process is slowly coming to its end… with a lot of good friends and professional support.

Our wonderful cutter Branka Pavlović is our secret weapon: She is selecting, organising and presenting our material in a very creative way. Branka is the perfect match for our team [Now its 4 women making the film!]. She is from Belgrade by birth, studied there film and TV editing at the University of Arts, she worked in various film productions, art projects and for the Belgrade-based TV station B92. In 2009 she finished a Master in „Art in Context“ at the University of Arts in Berlin, Germany.  She is very interested in the topic of YU-nostalgia, can sing the old YU-Rock songs by heart and has an impressive work experience and was honored for her work with different prices.

But not only Branka is working – we have a lot of helping hands! Our translators are translating the interviews for the subtitles, with musician Nicolae and his accordion we found the right atmosphere and sound for the film music, the audio-post-production is done by Janja Loncar in Belgrade, and Till and Christopher from Schneider&Hahn are working for our graphical presentation. And, for the post-production, we got some funding by the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation! Thanks to the support to all of you!

Presentations of the documentary

The world premier of the documentary will be on the 12th of June at the Karl Franzens University of Graz, Austria, in the context of the International Conference „Area Studies in a Globalizing World” !

On the 7th of July there will be the second presentation of the documentary at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, within the scope of an academic symposium on the topic of Jugonostalgia and post-socialist cultures of memory. More information is coming soon!

Gesine Schwan took up the patronage for the SEE.ID film documentary project “Hej Sloveni! YU-Nostalgia as phenomenon of everyday life”!

Gesine Schwan is a popular German political scientist. She was President of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder for a long time.  Gesine Schwan is engaged in fostering the relations to Eastern European countries, especially with bordering Poland. In 2004 and 2009 she run for the office of the Federal President of Germany for the Social Democratic Party (SPD). She initiated the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance in Berlin.  Now she decided to support our project actively!

Gesine Schwan wrote about the film documentary project: “Your initative about the filmic treatment of the topic of YU-Nostalgia advocates norms like tolerance and freedom and supports the regional and international cooperation. Your work enhances the critical reflection of the events taking place in the Nineties in South-Eastern Europe, that are still shaping the discourse on the unification of Europe at its Southeastern border. That’s why I wish you and the project under the auspices of the cultural association “SEE.ID – In Dialogue with South-Eastern Europe” further support and attention not only in Germany, but also in our neighboring countries, especially in South-Eastern Europe.”

We are very proud of that support of a strong and successful woman that is active for dialogue! See Gesine Schwans homepage and her letter of patronage!

Gariwo – SEE.ID

August 19, 2009

The Bosnian NGO Gariwo that we visited in Sarajevo to interview Dr. Svetlana Broz and to learn about the organization Gariwo / Imam petlju wrote about us and our project! The NGO Gariwo Sarajevo was established in September 2001 as a branch office of the international network Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide. It is stronly engaged in education for civil courage in the BiH post-conflict society to make a peaceful future possible – against all manipulations. Its founder Dr. Svetlana Broz is an activist for peace and mutual understanding. She wrote the popular book “Good people in evil times” that deals with civil courage across ethnic boundaries during the wartime.

Get more information and read the article on or on!

On Monday we had a wonderful Balkan-style farewell dinner – thanks to the vegetables, meat and fruits from Juliska and her garden in Vojvodina – with our hosts Kerstin and Georg, Aleksandras family and friends. On Tuesday we had our last interview with Adnan, who told us about his experiences researching in Northern Bosnia on the history of the recent war (in his diploma thesis) and on Jugo-/Tito-Nostalgia (now for his Ph.D. thesis).  Funny were his findings on the increasing popularity of the brand “Tito” that is now producing Tito soap, food etc. Especially interesting for us was his personal relationship to Jugonostalgia – Adnan was born in Bihac and has vivid childhood memories. Besides of that we agreed on that Jugonostalgia is mostly a projection of the “ideal good life”.

After the interview in Ferlach we headed to the train station / the airport. Now we are back home – Josefin in Berlin, Aleksandra in Klagenfurt(Celovec)/Vienna and I in Marburg. Our journey was great, impressing, with smaller and bigger adventures and wonderful people and stories along our way. I want to thank all people who supported us and who made our trip to what it was.

But even when the journey ended – we and our project are continuing!

Our hosts Liljana and Pedja took us to a free open air concert of YU-rock legend Dado Topić on the riverbanks of Sava in Novi Beograd. Dado gave an really YU-nostalgic concert, singing his hits from the 80s, like probably the most famous one: “Makedonija”. For us, it was somehow strange: There is a Croat standing on the stage who is speaking obviously more Serbian (his wife is Serb) and singing about the beauties and the longing for Makedonia. Later he presented his new song “Against Euro-Integration, because this is only shifting the borders from around the Balkans inside  the Balkans. Europe was always here, without the decision of Italians our Spains over our heads that are then ruling our live.” An attitude of “pravi rockeri”.

On Sunday we had a beautiful interview with Mirjana, a business women, former docent for economy and a friend of Aleksandras mother who pampered us as if we were her own children. She provided us drinks, pita and salad, a wonderful bosnian cake, coffee, a wonderful view on Belgrade and with wise words for the interview and for our personal future.

We headed to Postena Kafana – that is always closed on Sundays. But by coincidence, sombody passed by asking us why we were sitting in front of the Kafana. It was Misan who works here and who opened it for us to film the amazing atmosphere of the rooms that are stuffed with pictures, sculptures and other relics from SFRJ and who gave us an interview as well. In the evening we took some shots on Kalemegdan – the view on the riverside, old people dancing Kolo etc. And we were meeting my friend Iva again. On our way home we passed by a group of young musicians, playing really wonderful songs with Eastern European influence on the street. We were dancing. In the very end, we’ve found out – they are from Nürnberg. Dancing in Belgrade to East European sounding music from Nürnberg. Funny.

On Monday we took again some city shots, of the church of Sveti Sava, of a former state building hosting the police that was destroyed by NATO bombing and so on. After a delicious break in a restaurant in Skadarlija we interviewed the 90-year old Nikola, who told us of his life and of his attitude to Jugonostalgija. He fought with Tito’s Partisans, was member of the Communist Party in Montenegro and was prisoned in Goli Otok – that is sometimes called “Tito’s GULAG“ –  for more than two years because of reasonless suspicions. He is still convinced of Jugoslavism and of the socialist system and he has a nostalgia towards his memories to the „good times“ – but he is very aware of the problematic misuse of power in a system that nowadays is called totalitarian.

In the evening we interviewed our host Liljana who told us about one of her teachers who was a “typical strict communist”. For Liljana, Jugonostalgia is about childhood memories and typical products like Vegeta and not that important. She is more concentrated on building a positive future. The future is always determined by the past. That is why Liljana is disappointed about the parents’ generation that didn’t take responsability for what went wrong during the Milošević regime. After the interview we went for some drinks –  it was our last evening with Liljana and Pedja.

On Tuesday we bought the last souvenirs before meeting my friend Ana who managed it somehow to arrive on time in Belgrade from her holidays on a Croatian island despite a broken car. Ana is writing her Ph.D. thesis in the UK on the „Serbian identity“. She is of the opinion, that it is very difficult for the Serbs to find their own identity. In the often changing narratives of the past, there aren’t many fixed points to rely on, so that those like the battle of Kosovo polje in 1389 are used that are highly problematic themselves. For her it is important that Serbia is trying to overcome its identity that is mostly constructed by quasi-holy myths.

In the evening, after saying goodbye to our great, great hosts (thank you so much again!) we drove to Vojvodina, to the small village of Bešenovo. Here lives Josefinas mother Juliška who welcomed us warmly. She is living on a small farm together with a lot of different animals and is caring of a beautiful fruit and vegetable garden, her “jungle”. In the next days we were talking hours and eating and sleeping. We did some small trips to Sremska Mitrovica, the fortress Petrovaradin and Novi Sad, and we even worked a bit. We realised that our “nostalgic suitcase“ became really packed during our journey, and together with the two books on Tito Vladimir in Bešenovo gave us there is now almost no more space left 🙂 Especially we enjoyed Juliškas special diet for beloved guests: She ordered a huge (!!!) welcome cake for us, then she even slaughtered a goose for us, and of course we had to take with us kilos of fresh vegetables and fruits, meat, self-made cheese and liqueur, sausages and some litres of really old Slivovic that a woman from the neighbourhood was saving for her childrens’ weddings. Thank you so much for pampering your “three daughters”!

On Saturday we were driving all day long from Bešenovo to Ljubljana. We arrived at Ksenija’s place who provided us her flat (thanks to you and key-bringer Nina!). On Saturday we interviewed Boštjan Troha. He is very jugonostalgic, collecting old packs of popular products, nostalgic relics, cars etc. He founded the association “Nostalgija” that is organising concerts, gatherings and even pilgrimages with old Fico cars from Titos birthplace in Kumrovec to his grave in Belgrade. Now he plans to open a nostalgic warehouse museum in Ljubljana and to organise a big event for the 25th May 2010, the Day of Youth – 30 years after Tito’s death.

After the interview we went back to Klagenfurt. Here we are staying for two days with Georg and Kerstin (thanks so much!) to calm down, to get the last things organized and to finish our „inner journey“ as well. On Tuesday we have our last interview with Adnan, who is writing his Ph.D. thesis on Jugonostalgia in Nothern Bosnia (the region around Bihać) – and then we are departing.

Tuesday was a day of little disasters – I lost Aleksandras camera, the door of the garage got broken and fell on our car, and our film camera fell down because of the broken leg of our tripod that refuses to work anymore… After a couple of shocks, we did some great city and panorama shots (despite of all that!) and met active and optimistic Aida in the evening, who is working in the (I)NGO sector of Sarajevo now for about ten years. On Wednesday we had an early interview with taxi driver Hasan, who told us his impressing story: He saved the life of a Bosnian Serb soldier during the siege of Sarajevo. For him, nothing is more important than helping each other, that is the greatest and bravest thing somebody can do to him. And he is of the opinion that Bosnia is a „little Jugoslavija“. Hasan brought us to Svetlana Broz, who is the granddaughter of Josip Broz Tito. During the war in Bosnia and Herzegowina she as cardiologist decided to volunteer in BiH, there she collected the stories people told her. Out of that she wrote a book: „Good people in evil time“ that is dealing with interethnic help, braveness and friendship across ethnic borders. Svetlana Broz is now leading the NGO Gariwo that is working on citizens activism, especially on youth empowerment and education. After that we went to the historical museum of Sarajevo and visited above all the exhibition on the life of Sarajevans during the siege. In the evening we did a little thank you/farewell-party at Darkos place and cooked for our new friends from Sarajevo that were caring about us that nicely: Elvir and his girlfriend Christiana, Darko, Denis, Fedja and his girlfriend Alma.

On Thursday we said goodbye to Sarajevo by strolling around in Bascarscija touristically, but not without having interviewed Aida on her opinion on Jugonostalgija, on the problems and future of Bosnia. Quickly we took some city shots at Bascarscija, before having a last coffee. After packing we were departing in the afternoon – after Elvir, Darko, Denis and Fedja showed up suprisingly to say goodbye. Thanks guys, it was a great time with you! We will come back soon, for sure, latest with the documentary *wink!

Late at night after a long and quite slow drive to Belgrade we arrived at Liljana and Pedjas place who are hosting us for the next days. Friday we took a day off. I met my dear friend Iva, Josefin and I strolled through the city center while Aleksandra got orientation being the first time in Belgrade and seeking for some swimming at Ada Ciganlija – it’s hot again: 35 degrees Celsius!

Yesterday, after a relaxed breakfast we had an interview with the historian Predrag J. Markovic who wrote about the „seven S-values of socialistic nostalgia“, explained us the meaning of Tito for the region and the change of popular culture in the last years. After that we did some interesting detail shots at the „House of Flowers“ where Tito is buried. Every year about 150.000 people are coming to visit it and the museum around! Later we had an vivid conversation and a beautiful interview with the andragogy expert Katarina Popovic, who is working on a history project for the region. In the evening we went out with our hosts to a concert of Dado Tolic in Novi Beograd, a typical rockstar from YU-times.

Pictures: Children’s books writer Fahrudin with Josefin, taxi driver Hasan, in interview with Svetlana Broz, our host Elvir and his girlfriend Christiana, Josefin and Aida, we three having our last coffee in Sarajevo, Josefin’s magically looking but sweaty bus driving in Belgrade, Predrag Markovic with a statue of Tito, Sanna and I hiding, interview with Katarina Popovic, our hosts Liljana and Pedja during the concert.

On Sunday we took our day off, strolling through the beautiful city, enjoying life and taking time for ourselves. Of course, there were again things to organize… On Monday, with new energies, we took some beautiful shots and a great interview in the Tito Cafe in Sarajevo. The manager Emir told us how difficult life in BiH is and that Tito, despite of all possible criticism against the socialist system, has a very special meaning here. In the evening we were at Darkos place and interviewed him. He told us about his longings in life and especially about his journeys through former Yugoslavia where he always felt like being “home”.  After that we went again to Kino prvi Maja / Kino Bosna for an evening with Bosnian folk music. It is unbelievable – there we did not only meet our new Bosnian friends and a couple of new people, but also Anna and Goran by chance. We know them from our studies in Ljubljana 2006/2007!

Today we did some city shooting on the market and the city center, as well as we took some street interviews. Fahrudin who owns a bookshop is nostalgic, missing some basic values like free travelling, societal communication and more equality in society. He is writing books for children to make a better understanding and future for the next generation in BiH possible.

Here you can see a nice artistical picture of us three that Lidia from Zagreb sent us, the entrance of the Tito cafe and Josefin and Emir after the interview. Pictures of our work after yesterday afternoon are coming soon…

From Zagreb to Sarajevo

July 26, 2009

On Friday we found some more people to give us short statements in front of the camera. Jadranka, selling flowers on the market, explained us that Croatians would be a very tolerant people, but after what happened during war… On the contrary a young woman, Mirjana, told us that „everybody is YU-nostalgic“ – in her opinion it belongs to the identity of those who grew up in YU. We filmed some breakdancers in action and some city shots of controversial squares in Zagreb, like Trg zrtava fazisma or Trg Marsala Tita. In the afternoon we interviewed the Cold War historian Tvrtko Jakovina on Jugonostalgija. He is not nostalgic, but he wishes for a responsible dealing with the past: „Different from individuals, a state does not have the luxery to behave without responsibility“. And there could be much learned from the past for the sake of the future. Later we drove into the suburbs and took some shots from the Zagreb skyline at sunset – with a wonderful atmosphere.

Yesterday we had luck with the weather. It was cooler than the days before and so driving from Zagreb to Sarajevo was easy going. After the border in Bosnia we had our first incident with the police that stopped us because of a stop sign we hadn´t seen. So we made little aquaintance with the local way of getting things like that alright, „donating“ some money to the police. In the evening we arrived in Sarajevo. Film director Elvir welcomed us and brought us to his parents house. After a stroll through Sarajevo centre at night we met some really nice friends of Elvir in the alternative cinema place Kino Prvi maja Bosna.

Zagreb is challenging: It’s hot, inspiring and simply amazing! We’ve met so many great and wonderful people with exciting stories. On Wednesday we did some shootings in the old town and very colourful street interviews – market woman Teresia from Dolac market, young “children of war” Angelo, religous Margareta and inline-skating Lidia! Hvala vam najlepse! In the afternoon we’ve met the feminist activist Rada Boric from the Centar za zenske studije who stressed the social values and feminist aspects during socialist times – and who showed us that she’s a great networker. In the evening we visited my dear friend Antonija who is living in a huge village in the surrounding of Zagreb, her little son Marko and her two dogs Ben and Clea. It was such a pleasure to be with you! Thank you for hosting and pampering us. Kisses!

Today we’ve met Nenad Puhovski who is the director of Factum, the biggest independent production for documentaries in Croatia. He told us about the difficult situation of dealing with the past in Croatia and how problematic it is to broadcast or to discuss some topics. One example are the reactions on a documentary he produced a couple of years ago – “Storm over Croatia” is dealing with war crimes of the Croatian army that occured during Operation Oluja in 1995 in Krajina. Our receptionist Jasmina shared her opinion on the topic of Jugonostalgija with us – in her freetime she’s writing poetry and is connecting authors from the other ex-YU-countries. Later this afternoon we interviewed Ines Wurth who is living in L.A. She is an actrice hosting the one woman show “I miss communism” and has been travelling sucessfully around with it – with positive reactions. After that we’ve met Sandra Grubic from FADEiN – that stands for “Incredibly Good Institution”. FADEiN is producing and making critical and interventionist documentaries and reportages for the Croatian audience, Sandra is one of the journalists who dares to touch the hot topics.

In the evening we shot some more city atmosphere. In between of all this shooting we are hanging around in our hostel, mostly very tired, eating, taking naps or showers and getting everything organized – and enjoying being here on a wonderful trip meeting great people!