Midwinter Night’s Dream. 2004. Serbia and Montenegro/Spain. Directed by Goran Paskaljevic

The Department of Film presents the first comprehensive American retrospective of the films of Goran Paskaljevic (b. 1947, Belgrade), one of Europe’s most respected directors, featuring new 35mm English-subtitled prints of 13 features and two shorts by the director.

Paskaljevic spent much of his adolescence at the Belgrade Cinematheque, which his stepfather founded. At age 20 he studied cinema at FAMU, Prague’s celebrated film academy, during the brief, heady period of liberalization in Czechoslovakia. After the Soviet invasion Paskaljevic returned to Yugoslavia, where he made short films and documentaries for television. His first feature, Beach Guard in Wintertime (1976), garnered international critical acclaim. By the time he completed The Powder Keg/Cabaret Balkan, 22 years and nine feature films later, he had become one of Eastern Europe’s leading filmmakers. As an outspoken opponent of Slobodan Milosevic, he was also a marked man whose life would have been in danger if he had remained in Serbia. In 2001, while in exile, Paskaljevic completed a film in Ireland, entitled How Harry Became a Tree. A few years later he returned to Belgrade to make his two most recent features, Midwinter Night’s Dream (2004) and The Optimists (2006).

Though Paskaljevic’s films are narrative-based, they are driven by restless, idiosyncratic, and all-too-human characters, and often veer off in surprising and fanciful directions. Paskaljevic finds the extraordinary in the reality of the everyday, and his realism, informed by the political transformations he has witnessed, is inflected with irony. He has written, “The beauty of film for me is its closeness to life. And if it is going to reflect life faithfully, it has to draw on metaphor, just like poetry.” All films in Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles, except where noted.

Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film. This exhibition is made possible with the cooperation of the Serbian Ministry of Culture (Belgrade), the City of Belgrade, and the Yugoslav Cinematheque (Belgrade). The Department of Film also acknowledges the help of Madeleine and Philip Zepter, Dragan and Milan Tomic, Christine Gentet-Paskaljevic, and Stephen Walsh.

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