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City as a Sign of Cultural Identity in European Cinema after 1970: Examples from Southeastern Europe


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Koprtla, Elena. (2019). City as a Sign of Cultural Identity in European Cinema after 1970: Examples from Southeastern Europe. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Comparative Literature.
(PDS književnosti, izvedbenih umjetnosti, filma i kulture) [mentor Gilić, Nikica and Borjan, Etami].

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This doctoral dissertation deals with the city and its identity, with focus on the as shown in European cinematography. The city is, in continuity, subject to interpretation and reinterpretation, and a film that testifies about the development of the city, its changes and its impact on the inhabitants. The aim of this doctoral dissertation is to awaken a historical understanding of the film's interpretation of the city and the identity of the city's environment, especially in the cinemas in Southeastern Europe and the countries from former Yugoslavia, which have so far been limited to research. The analysis of the movie city unites art history, architecture, anthropology, urban and social studies, and the film landscape extends far behind the screen to reconsider how we recount their identity in their landscapes and how we define their reach in the global film community. Since its beginnings, cinema has been the product of the dominant urban psyche, since its phenomenon is related to the modern city and to this day greatly affects our perception and understanding of the city space. The film image is a mental reminder, a cognitive map, a creative projection, and while the city as a "social picture" is studied in various disciplines, the film begins to address the relationship between the real, that is, what the camera caught and the reel, the screen image. The recognition of the city in the film as an archetypal place for reviewing the visual and tactile experience, the shape and style, the perception, consciousness and significance of the film picture and the film text are determined by the space, and that space is modeled, designed. The relationship between the city and film and art in general, is always on the line between reality and fiction - it is a fabrication, a result of a complex imagination that is a mixture of personal and collective memories, something learned and something that has been experienced. Walter Benjamin, Henri Lefebvre and Georg Simmel explore how modernity manifests the urban experience in western culture and how the city shows the transformation of everyday people to the very consciousness of man. The film is associated with particular theories of space (Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, etc.), where the focus shifted to the representations or images of the city, and the role of symbolic practices in the production of meaning or "places" of the city. All the cinematographies in its development have "their" cities that are directly or indirectly a subject, but also the main protagonists - Paris, Berlin, London, Manchester, New York, Shanghai, as well as a vision of the city through an indefinite number of science-fiction and film noir films, films of italian neorealism, the french poetic realism, film-dedications, omnibuses. Cinematic landscape allows characterization of author’s work, making it easy recognizable, such as long shots from New York in Woody Allen's films or the artistic representations of Madrid in Pedro Almodóvar's work. The city is undeniably designed cinematic form, just as the movie owes its full nature of the historical development of the city. Not only does the city have a new role in the political economy of the film industry, but it also changes the landscape and it's cultural centers become direct inspiration for filmmakers, creating a new model of narrative and cinematic space. In the major European centers filmmakers represent new politicized concept of urban space that occurs in parallel with the development of urban theory and political practice after 1968. Filmmakers explore and capture the cities in crisis at the same time questioning the tradition of film art and popular genres. In the 70s, movie plays a huge role in the presentation of images and narratives of a city in transition, showing the landscape of urban decay and de-industrialization at the same time carrying a new reality. A dozen cities will be analyzed through representative films from the late sixties to the 21. century. Through four chapters in this analysis will be shown how much symbolic potential is in the cityscape in the creation and re-creation of the identity of space and personal identity of citizens through the film, creating a new identity after the great social changes, particularly in Southeastern Europe and the former Yugoslavia as a separate unit of many identities. Through the analysis of the history of urban area, urban landscapes, architecture, social practices in urban areas, will be shown the process of identity formation film art, because these identities are subjective and dynamic categories that are constantly constructed and reconstructed. The identities are not waiting to be discovered; they are mental constructions. In geography, the concept has always showed visual potential. Cinematic landscape helps in understanding the construction of the material and subjective in the movies. Landscape is seen as part of the psyche of a character or as a part of cinematic realism. The main goal is to show how socio-political, but also ideological changes affect architecture and urban landscape in the European context, and how much these differences differ or coincide in different cities, created in a similar social, historical and geographical context. With the analysis of European cinematography I want to warn about the changes in the space in cities and the changes among the inhabitants, with the emphasis on the cinemas in former Yugoslavia. In four chapters are analyzed films that have promoted new visions and aesthetic codes, works that have made some changes to the European film and the presentation of the city as a living organism, and whose urban spaces are constantly subject to change. The capitals on the Balkans, especially in the countries from former Yugoslavia are the spaces that first reflected these changes because the geographic, historical and social context is similar. Urban identities are artificially constructed by cultural and political elites, and these identities simultaneously present different forms of conflict - cultural, inter-ethnic, intra-ethnic, class conflict. Cinema allows us to look at the city as a prism that focuses on urbanism and architecture, but also on national identity and statehood. In the thesis are analyzed films about Sarajevo, Belgrade, Zagreb and Skopje, and the main aim was to show their filmmaking and different levels of engagement in the presentation of the city, as well as the everyday practices of inhabitants who shape urban landscapes. Cinematic urbanism in the Balkan films has been characterized mainly during the last three decades, which will be discussed in the last chapter of the paper. Prior to this, the historical and theoretical models of urban studies will be described, which will serve as a basis for final analysis of the shape of the Balkan film. Especially after 1990s and after the beginning of the new millennium, the films deal with post-war, post-traumatic and conflicting society and endless transition by creating a new urban class and new citizens, destroying the city's symbols, but also dealing with alternative cultures and movements as a starter and a vibrant urbanity reminder. The quest for an individual is reduced to coping with the new sociopolitical circumstances and the new city. In the case of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, the restructuring of space, iconography and identity begins in the urban landscape. The nationalist abstractions that previously existed under the official rhetoric of socialism and the mask of architectural urbanism became dominant factors in the shaping of the urban landscape. The main criterion in the selection of Balkan films is to present different examples and different levels of engagement in the representation of the city, and the main question is whether there were any recurring features and themes in these films. Urban identities consist of narrations that have their own structure and which use different past and present history. Though they can be artificially manufactured, they are never fixed and are continually changing over time. By opening up the question of how urban narratives take place in European cinematography, we will better understand the ways we perceive and deal with urban spaces as well as their places in the Balkan film. The film not only puts the urban agenda first, but also advocates a return to flânerie in general, aimed at transforming and re-representing modernity in different contexts and cultures. The urban should become a fundamental part of the cinematographic discourse and the urban film can become a key genre in the contemporary Balkan and Southeastern European film as an analytical instrument and a response to the limitations in most of the existing film studies and, the most important, inter-, multi- and transdisciplinary frameworks that shape current debates about the city.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: cinema, city, identity, European Cinema, urban identity, flâneur, landscape, architecture, space, place, Balkan, former Yugoslavia, Post-Yugoslav Cinema, urbicide, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Skopje
Subjects: Comparative literature
Departments: Department of Comparative Literature
Supervisor: Gilić, Nikica and Borjan, Etami
Additional Information: PDS književnosti, izvedbenih umjetnosti, filma i kulture
Date Deposited: 29 May 2019 11:35
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 11:35

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