I’ve always loved summer movies. Those hidden spots near the waterfront added excitement to warm nights on various Croatian islands. Sometimes my sister and I went to the cinema alone while our parents sat in a bar. Mom loved to play and everything transformed to “cinema”, so she would sneak into the cinema for the last 10 minutes of the screening, long enough to understand what it was about, and later tease us that she had already seen that movie (at the time these were all premieres were never broadcasted on TV before).
First time, I watched “Occupation in 26 Pictures” on television. I remember being so young that this movie produced some chills and fear inside. Later, I watched it many times and rewound some scenes. Lordan Zafranović is a name that will forever be remembered for the “Occupation”. And the “Occupation” is stormy in many ways: polarised political views, awards, criticism but also filmic freedom and sumptuous language that liberates. Lordan showed the evil created by ideology, but through an intimate story about destroyed family and friendship relationships. Primitivism as extravagance, kitsch and decadence that the Nazis and fascists brought to refined Dubrovnik. Naturalism and the grotesque. And finally, perhaps the most explicit display of violence in the history of Yugoslav cinema (the carnage in the bus).
This summer on Vis I saw that the “35mm Film Festival Vis” was going on and that Lordan Zafranović was the guest. Lordan smoked and watched his movie from the front row, under the starry sky, with the sound of the waves hitting the rocks below, commenting on details from the movie with his friends. Film is a special magic, we all know that, but imagine how the audience breathes in a place like this?
The next day we met in Dionysus. Lordan is a man of “big momentum” that made me excited. He can tell you stories and seduce you through the pictures he creates. He talked about his first arrival on Vis in a cardboard box as a premature baby, when his mother dropped him on the waterfront so they thought he had died, how he and Mirko Kovač travelled all summer looking for inspiration and peace to write the screenplay, about Dubrovnik, the actors, about the future of film.
It was a warm September day, next to us sat tourists who had never seen the “Occupation” or experienced a 35mm film in a cinema. Lordan was filling up the ashtray and drinking spinkler and I was thinking about that little Natasha who was coming back from the summer cinema at night and imagined that she was the one of the actresses from the movie, noisily hitting the Stradun with her clogs and clinking her bracelets as if they were the ones from the movie, which was on screen only that evening and whose name I probably didn’t even remember.