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Available for rent


Croatia, 2018

Production : Restart


French, English

Balkanized Memories


In the early 90’s, at the very beginning of the Yugoslav Wars, the newly-born state of Croatia was involved in a military conflict with neighbouring Serbia. Criminals used the chaos of war to harass and rob Serbian civilians living in Croatia. One such innocent victim was a girl living in Zagreb, Aleksandra Zec, who was brutally murdered, alongside her family, who were of Serbian descent, in the Croatian capital of Zagreb. The perpetrators were soon found but because of political pressure, no one has ever been convicted of the crime. A quarter-century later, controversial theatre director Oliver Frljić is working on a play about the case. The process brings out hidden traumas, rehearsals become a sort of collective psychotherapy exercise, and the 12-year old actress Nina, who plays Aleksandra, feels as if the war has indeed never ended. When the director asks her to profess her own Serbian identity in front of the audience, Nina is terrified, and does not know what to do.

A word from Tënk

“I am from Croatia, but I am a Serb.” The opening sentence of the documentary Srbenka is uttered by a young girl painfully reluctant to look directly into the camera, agitated and ashamed. The sentence speaks volumes to all those who witness her confession. With this troubling testimony, director Nebojša Slijepčević begins on a note of carefully moving away from stereotypical representations of what it is to be ‘the other.’ Depicting her day-to-day struggles with both systemic hatred and bullying from her peers and society at large, Slijepčević meticulously discloses blind spots and hypocrisies in contemporary Croatia.
He offers another narrative level in following the creative process of Aleksandra Zec, a theatre production directed by Oliver Frljić that premiered in 2014 at the Croatian National Theatre in the coastal city of Rijeka. One of the most relevant theatre makers and thinkers in Europe today, Frljić is known for his uncompromising approach to staging different topics of socio-political urgency that are often controversial. Aleksandra Zec was no exception to this, and the production caused numerous protests, though Slijepčević leaves out the sociopolitical consequences of Frljić’s theatre project, and instead dedicates his filmic attention to the process of theatre-making itself. He follows the author and performers while they discuss, engage, break, succeed, and fail to find a way to share this story, all while avoiding the most common representational traps that stories about ‘Othering’ are prone to.
Presenting this process alongside real life testimonies, Srbenka functions as an homage to the theatre itself, in all of its possibilities and limitations to move, discover, question, or transform beyond its physical boundaries. In a very subtle way, it simultaneously questions and exposes how theatre could imitate, converse with, or indeed penetrate a reality built around unresolved conflicts and unspoken trauma. And above all, it challenges our role as witnesses to it all.



Jana Dolecki
Theatre researcher, Choir conductor, Cultural producer (Austria/Croatia)



Item 1 of 4
Item 1 of 4

Item 1 of 4