The Old School of Capitalism

Before I saw it, I didn’t know that The Old School of Capitalism (in addition to REAL! LIVE! WORKERS!) *ed Ratibor Trivunac (as well as Tadej Kurepa), but I do now… having seen it screen as part of MIFF. Art imitates life imitates art, and the troubles facing the anarchists on film came to a head IRL in the Serbian state’s botched attempt to frame Trivunac, Kurepa and four others for the crime of international terrorism — a legal predicament which stretched from August 2009 through to June 2010.

The film itself is long (perhaps overly-so — several walked out before it ended) and overly-didactic… although maybe not, as I found the scenes in which there was intense discussion kinda interesting, as well as unusual. Nonetheless, at over two hours, the lessons being taught became repetitive, and the drama could easily have been compressed into a shorter time-frame…

A quasi-documentary, the film’s depiction of the “deteriorating socio-economic landscape” of Serbia sits somewhat uneasily alongside the film’s narrative. On the one hand, the general dynamic governing this decline — privatisation (corporatisation) of state (public) assets, and the general marketisation of social relations — is dramatised fairly well, and often humourously, but whatever is distinctive about the Serbian experience of these changes is unclear. That is, I didn’t feel like I gained any particular insight into how these general processes applied in the particular case of Serbia. Thus, while the film utilises footage from a small number of recent public protests, I never really got a sense of these having developed in any particular manner, or understood how they related to previous decades of struggle.

I dunno: maybe I need a little more time to reflect.

(Otherwise: Russian Lessons was good.)

On further reflection: zmkc has a slightly caustic (“almost certainly the worst film I have ever seen”) review of the film here; @ MUBI; somebody called Olaf Möller reckons The Old School of Capitalism is “A heady yet lucid mix of documentary and fiction created during the first wave of mass strikes in Serbia since the advent of capitalism. It’s cinema verité meets the Western meets noir, shot fast and loose, and featuring a number of scenes in which the “characters” (many of them real-life activists) and actual strikers interact. Stellar partisan filmmaking” — while Vienna based philosopher Ljubomir Bratic takes a closer look at the new film of the Serbian film-maker Zelimir Žilnik in which he poses the question of a common struggle of workers and precarized anarchist intellectuals… in German.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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