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Cinema of the Balkans

ENGL 292.402
fulfills requirements:
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

This course will be a study of Balkan cinema, with a focus on a wide

range of films that were made in response to the 1990s crisis in the

Balkans.  While the Balkans may be familiar as one of Hollywood’s

favorite fantasy nightmares—the bloodthirsty Transylvanian count and

vampire, Vlad Tepes-Dracula, or Cat People’s horrific historical Serbs

who morphed into ferocious black panthers now living in the heart of

Manhattan—Balkan cinema is an often overlooked but one of the richest

and most significant cinemas of Europe today.  While tracing the

history of Balkan cinema, the main focus of the course will be on

films made during and after the Balkan war in the 1990s, by filmmakers

such as Milcho Manchevski, EmirKusturica, Srdjan Dragojevic, Goran

Peskaljevic, and Danis Tanovic.  These directors achieved great

success in their native countries as well as abroad, and started

appearing regularly at all major international film festivals.  As

such they not only mark a significant moment in thinking about the

nation but show how a nation has come to depend on the persuasive

power of cinema to articulate itself.  As we recognize the

difficulties in asserting Balkan culture as a unified one, the aim of

the course will be to explore an astonishing thematic and stylistic

consistency in the cinematic output of the Balkan region.  Looking at

these shared issues—the turbulent history and volatile politics, a

semi-Orientalist positioning sometimes seen as marginality and

sometimes as a bridge between East and West, encounters between

Christianity and Islam, a legacy of patriarchy and economic

dependency--we will examine how cinema of the Balkans testifies to a

specific artistic sensibility that comes from a shared socio-cultural