Director’s Statement

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During the late ‘60s I was thirteen when I skipped school for the first time, and I went inside the movie theatre in order to escape the cold. With a serious pubertal contempt towards Yugoslav cinema of that time, I sat in to “see” a film called Innocence Unprotected. In exchange for some time in the warm indoors, I was ready to take a nap in the darkness of the theatre during yet another boring socialist tale based on revolutionary heritage.

But there on the big screen a tale so different from the bleakness of Yugoslav film and life in general began to unfold. A film as a sparkling illusion, full of humor, individuality and playfulness began to unfold. Art as jugglery began to unfold! From that day onwards, Dušan Makavejev, the director of the film Innocence Unprotected became and remained my favorite Yugoslav – Serbian director. The film WR: Mysteries of the Organism became a symbol of Makavejev’s film heritage: a film language as a play game and an everlasting experiment in directing and editing.

And as time passed by, this film’s ban became the symbol of Yugoslavia’s unfinished socialist experiment.

Hence, my film The Makavejev Case or Trial in a Movie Theater became not just an homage to one of the greatest Eastern European filmmakers, but also an attempt to uncover the biggest trauma of socialist Yugoslavia: an attempt to establish a democracy without true freedom, or an attempt of establishing freedom without true democracy. Or, as one of the participants in the discussion held in Novi Sad in June 1971, after the screening of the film WR: Mysteries of Organism, shouted from the speaker booth of the “Arena” theatre with ideological fervor: “In our democratic community, we have the right to ban what we don’t like in our country!”


WR: Mysteries of the Organism (Serbian: W.R. – Misterije organizma, W.R. – Мистерије организма) is a 1971 film by Serbian director Dušan Makavejev (born 1932) that explores the relationship between communist politics and sexuality, as well as presenting the controversial life and work of Austrian-American psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957). The film’s narrative structure is unconventional, intermixing fictional and documentary elements.

After initial screenings, both in and out of Yugoslavia, W.R. was banned in that country for the next 16 years. Makavejev was subsequently indicted there on criminal charges of “derision” towards “the state, its agencies, and representatives” after he made intemperate remarks to a West German newspaper about the ban. His exile from his home country then became permanent until the end of the regime.


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