Close Up

15 November 2019: Pirika on Film

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Little Pioneers
Želimir Žilnik, 1968, 18 min

"Socially neglected children, taking care of themselves, dare to steal and break the law. They argue with parents who neither understand them, nor do they have feelings for them. As a counterpoint to this story we see a TV show where popular actor-entertainer Gula (Dragoljub Milosavljevic) addresses happy and carefree children." – Doclisboa

Pirika on Film
Želimir Žilnik, 2013, 53 min

"A biographical video essay on Pirika, a strong-willed woman living in Serbia, made 44 years after she appeared as a child actor in the short documentary film Little Pioneers and the Golden Bear-winning feature film Early Works, both directed by Želimir Žilnik. Growing up on the streets of Novi Sad, flirting with an accidental acting career, struggling through multiple failed relationships, even losing contact with her only daughter, this is the story of Pirika reconstructing her life through the regenerative power of cinema. During a climactic scene in which she visits Kino Arsenal in Berlin where a retrospective screening of the film Early Works is taking place, Pirika reunites with her onetime director Žilnik on stage and also her estranged daughter.

Žilnik assembles this video essay by freely mixing docudrama with discussion-style interviews between various characters. A picture is painted of Pirika, but also of the post-socialist condition as it affects the lives of both young and old in Serbia and Germany. The final scene of the video essay takes place in front of large statues of Marx and Engels, who loom over an impromptu conversation about the checkered pasts and potential futures of those who lived under the influence of communist parties. For people like Pirika, it is a question of finding the proper angle in which to rummage through garbage bins for a means of survival." – DA Films


Part of the 21st Century Žilnik survey, organised by Greg de Cuir Jr (Nonaligned Curator, Belgrade), with Dr Vana Goblot (Goldsmiths) and Matthew Barrington (Birkbeck), and with kind support from CHASE.

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