Rural Joy

Former Yugoslavia Now

Rural Joy

Filmmakers in the Balkans tend to come from or live in big cities, and for a long time most of the works they delivered was decidedly urban. However, in recent years, this has changed and young directors increasingly look at the countryside as a setting and a state of mind. In this selection you will find both aspects, and realise that they are actually quite complementary, and that their topics and artistic approaches are often interchangeable. This dynamic shows the untameable spirit of people living in the region that used to be one country and is still a common cultural space.

Rural Joy encompasses a certain duality: there is genuine pleasure in some of the customs, folk songs and traditions practised in the countryside of the ex-Yugoslavian countries, even if it is a pleasure viewed with a certain ironic amusement by the camera in these short films. On a second look, the limericks, the bawdy jokes and the self-satisfied patting of oneself on the back (or sometimes, the stomach) for leading the idealised, “simple” and “honest” countryside life betray its thinly-veiled shortcomings: the issues of inequality, discrimination, bigotry as well as the disintegration of rural societies and failures of an intentionally dismantled post-transitional welfare state, all often swept under the ideological rug. The filmmakers’ approaches to the reality of the rural ex-Yugoslavian countries reflect these contradictions: There are films which stick to the style of participatory documentaries and films which venture into poetic and intimate portraits of their subjects; some of them take a chance on the idea, relinquishing attention to form, and others revel in how the specifics of the format breathe a spirit of a time past.

Curator: Tina Poglajen

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