The Young Dreamer and the Last of the Mohicans

By Tara Karajica (Serbia)

When I told my friends about this article and that I had to discuss the situation of film criticism in Serbia and the state of national cinema there, they told me “But there is no film criticism in Serbia! What are you going to say?” Sadly, that is true… A year ago, I wrote a diatribe on the deplorable state of film criticism in Serbia. I vehemently criticized the passive (aggressive) attitude of my fellows and institutions, their lack of interest and skills and the perpetual state of lethargy. But then again, that is also the state of most of the country when it comes to culture. However, national cinema is in a far better state, if we take into account the fact that two films – DUBINA DVA by Ognjen Glavonić and VLAŽNOST by Nikola Ljuca – have been selected for the Forum section of this year’s Berlinale. And, these are just two more titles added to the list of successful films the industry has been producing in the past few years thanks to the talent and dedication of younger filmmakers.

So, where does this place me? Well…Nowhere, to be honest. Or, in another dimension, perhaps. I might be the “last unacknowledged film criticism Mohican in Serbia”, the cast away. Why? For starters, it is a case of a reversed ageism of sorts. In fact, I am too young, according the standards of the acting film critics. And then, I suppose, because I stand and fight for something they seem to have forgotten: I love what I do, I believe in it, I go for it and like Ingmar Bergman, I do my best not to “betray the magic of [my] dreams”. This unfortunate state of affairs and lack of sense of belonging puts me in a pickle. Due to the lack of film criticism outlets in Serbia, there is nowhere for me to write in my country. Thus, I share my passion and enthusiasm for films elsewhere, where I am mentored and received with arms wide open by film professionals from all over the world. That should put my “fellows” to shame, right?

But, where do I want to be? I want to be in a world where my writing can reflect my taste, my frame of reference, and where my perspective and writing style are recognizable; a world where I can, one day, become an authority in film criticism as a young voice eager to be heard and appreciated in the changing landscape of this profession; a world where I can make a name for myself in the vastly feared yet revered community of film critics (without, however, meeting the end of the critic in CLOUD ATLAS!) and thus contribute to the field of film criticism both in my home country and abroad; and last but not least, a world where there are more women film critics.

Perhaps, I should take advantage of my dire circumstances and create that world myself… Because, above all and after all, I am a dreamer and the last of the Mohicans…