Untravel (Ana Nedeljković and Nikola Majdak Jr’s, 2018)

The claymation classic, already featured at over 100 film festivals worldwide, is a story about how political borders shape personal identities. War has fortified border control, and in the absence of the opportunity to travel the leading puppet-lady dreams every night for ten years of leaving for a perfect world called “abroad.” While Serbian audiences will recognise the city depicted as Belgrade, the lack of explicit geo-political signifiers in the country, “just a few borders away from you” gives the film a universalising component. The dream becomes a nightmare as our heroine arrives abroad and realises that the rêve doesn’t match the reality. Dictators and surveillance are rendered here as an omnipresent black sludge, that follows her abroad.

It’s important that international travel isn’t interpreted as a bourgeoisie luxury. Restricting movement draws on the psychiatric aspects of ghettoization, as the freedom to leave plays a role in empowered decision making. While some choose to never leave their homelands, when that choice is taken from them in an internationally enforced isolation, it undermines their agency and capacity to grow in relation to the modern world. This is an issue that resonates for many Kosovar people.

Nedeljkovic, who completed her PhD on utopias and dystopias in contemporary art, stated in a seminar at Anibar (Peja, a two hour bus trip from Prizren) that dystopias don’t stem from the imagination. They grow from real world experiences and materialise from the visceral in lieu of the theoretical. In an interview with Zippy Frames, she stated that, “There’s a tiny border between Utopia and Dystopia. Most of the dystopian places were created because somebody tried to define what is happiness for all its citizens, and tried to apply this to all.”

Session details:

08 Aug, 20:00, DokuKino Plato
09 Aug, 12:00, Shtëpia e Kulturës
09 Aug, 20:00, Solar Cinema

Ana Nedeljković and Nikola Majdak Jr will be present for post-film Q&A.