Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Folk On Film

London's annual Bosnian Film Festival closed on Sunday with a showing of the new 'European mainstream' film from Danis Tanović and, more relevantly to the Gazette, Danijela Majstorović's documentary Posao snova (The dream job), which investigates women's experiences in the Serbian and Bosnian showbusiness folk-pop industry.

I was excited about this one back in February, when it premiered at a documentary festival in Zagreb, and with good reason. Even if the interviews with Ilinka MarÅ¡ić, a young girl from Republika Srpska joining an 'orchestra' of miniskirted backing dancers (something which Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love video surely has a lot to answer for?) aren't quite so revealing, there are meatier contributions from the top rank of established stars: Hanka Paldum, Lepa Brena, Beba Selimović and (skipping a few generations) Selma Bajrami, who talks more candidly than one might expect about male managers and (of course) her famous tijelo.

That's Posao snova taken care of, then, but it still leaves me chasing the other film on south-east European folk music that I've been repeatedly told I ought to watch: Adele Peeva's Chia e tazi pesen? (Whose is this song?). In a nutshell, Peeva traced the same folk melody around the Balkans, where her informants are all convinced that it came from their country. (Making it the ancestor of transnational folk-pop such as Tarkan's Simarik or Despina Vandi's Gia?)

While I wait for it to show up on a convenient festival programme or a region 2 DVD, Gergana Doncheva has reviewed it for the new issue of Kinokultura (a Bulgarian cinema special):

'The film explicitly reveals how a popular musical piece becomes associated with any given national imaginary (for example, Albanian, Bulgarian, Greek, or Turkish). It comes as no surprise that the characters categorically refuse to accept that representatives of a foreign, though neighboring community, could sing the same song and love it as they do. By a bitter irony, instead of dividing them, the song binds together these national territories like a thin red thread, uniting collective memories and personal stories. Above all, however, it shows the typical Balkan predisposition to stubborn negativism.'

Lastly, talking of London and Bosnia, London Sevdah will be posting some recordings on their website as long as ten people leave a comment on their blog and ask for them. At last count, they need seven more!

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