Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Who’s Singin’ Over There? (Slobodan Sijan, 1980)

Sunday 16 july 2023, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: WHO’S SINGIN’ OVER THERE? * 1980 * (Ko to Tamo Peva) * Directed by Slobodan Sijan * 83 minutes * In Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles * Doors open at 20:30, intro & film start at 21:00.

This is as close to a perfect movie as you’re ever going to see. Ko to tamo peva has it all – historical significance, a great story that keeps you on the move from one event to the next, fabulous social commentary, a string of bittersweet comic moments, and to top it off, a fiery Balkan soundtrack. What more could you possibly want?

The story is simple…in an old, broken down bus en route to Belgrade, a diverse group of passengers have to put up with each other as the bus slowly makes its way through the rough country roads. Within the confines of this thin narrative, the director Slobodan Sijan paints a picture of a society torn by one war (World War I) and bracing itself for another, as the shadow of World War II looms over the countryside. Two of the passengers are Gypsy musicians who every once in a while will sing of their miserable life, and they also foresee the tragedy to come. Their songs are magical and work like a Greek reflecting upon the events as they are taking place.

Years later, another director, Emir Kusturica (Arizona Dream, Black Cat White cat) would make a big hit internationally with the wild characters and vivid story lines that he created in his films….but his sense of humor and style didn’t spark out of nowhere. He drew from a specific culture that was developing in the 70s and 80s in ex-Yugoslavia. Ko to tamo peva is the finest gem from that period. Tragically, it was never screened that much outside its home country, although it’s considered by many to be the best Yugoslavian movie ever made. And that might even be an understatement. In fact, the film is pure magic.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to screen a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net