January 9–31, 2008
Paskaljevic spent much of his adolescence at the Belgrade Cinematheque, which his stepfather founded. At age twenty 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, twenty-two 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.