A History of Yugoslav Cinema

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See first the introduction to the Balkans

At the turn of the 20th century there was vibrant literature in Austria-occupied Croatia and Slovenia: poets like Milan Begovic ("Knjiga Boccadoro", 1900) and especially Vladimir Nazor ("Slavenske Legende", 1900; "Lirika", 1910) in Croatia and Oton Zupancic in Slovenia ("Samogovori/ Monologues", 1908); novels like Dinko Simunovic's "Tudinac/ Stranger" (1911) and Milutin Cihlar Nehajev's "Bijeg/ The Escape" (1909) in Croatia and Ivan Cankar's "Hlapec Jernej in Njegova Pravica/ Il Servo Jerney" (1907) in Slovenia; and a playwright like Ivo Vojnovic ("Dubrovacka Trilogija/ Dubrovnic Trilogy", 1902; "Gospolda sa SuncoKretom/ Lady of the Sunflowers", 1912) in Croatia. Among painters, a woman, Slava Raškaj stood out, but she died in 1906.

Meanwhile, in independent Serbia, two literary critics were assembling the Serbian literary canon: Bogdan Popovic, the founder of the literary magazine Srpski Knjizevni Glasnik (Serbian Literary Herald) in 1901, published the "Antologija Novije Srpske Lirike/ Anthology of Modern Serbian Lyric" in 1911, and his pupil Jovan Skerlic published "Istorija Nove Srpske Knjizevnosti/ History of the Contemporary Serbian Literature" in 1914. Serbia was a young country and its literature was just at the beginning. There were poets like the war correspondent Vladislav "Dis" Petkovic ("Utopljene Duse/ Drowned Souls", 1911) and the war poet Milutin Bojic ("Pesme Bola i Ponosa", 1917) and the poet-diplomats Jovan Ducic ("Pesme", 1908) and Milan Rakic ("Nove Pesme", 1912); and the first notable novels appeared, such as Ante Kovacic's "U Registraturi/ At The Office of the Registrar" (1888), Simo Matavulj's "Bakonja Fra Brne/ The Courageous Friar Bernard" (1892). Svetolik Rankovic's "Gorski Car/ The Mountain Tsar" (1897), Ivo Cipiko's "Pauci/ The Spiders" (1909), Borisav Stankovic's "Necista Krv/ Tainted Blood" (1910), and Milutin Uskokovic's "Dosljaci/ Newcomers" (1910).

After World War I the united kingdom of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia struggled to maintain the unity that it had fought for: the Croats (generally richer and better educated) were not happy to be ruled by the Serbs. Macedonia wanted to unite with Bulgaria, and Serbian paramilitary militias like Jovan Babunski's Chetniks were organized to terrorize the region and to "cleanse" it of Bulgarians, while the government settled thousands of Serbian families in Macedonia. Then the animosity between Croats and Serbs peaked in 1928 when the populist and nationalist Croatian politician Stjepan Radic was assassinated by the Serb nationalist Punisa Racic. The Serbian king, Aleksandar I (Petar's son, ascended to the throne in 1921), suspended the constitution and assumed dictatorial powers. The Croatian politician Ante Pavelic went into for exile and formed the terrorist organization Ustase. The Serbian king launched a campaign of repression of Croatia's nationalism. In 1931 another Croatian nationalist, the historian Milan Sufflay, was assassinated. In 1934 a Bulgarian-born terrorist, Vlado Chernozemski (born Velicko Kerin), affiliated with the Ustase, assassinated the Serbian king who was visiting France. Since the king's son was still a child, the kingdom was ruled by a regent, prince Pavle Karadordevic, until World War II. He appointed as prime minister Milan Stojadinovic, leader of the fascist movement Jugoslovenska Radikalna Zajednica. The left had been largely eradicated from the kingdom. A communist party had been established in 1919 but was banned the following year (ironically, most Yugoslav communists emigrated to the Soviet Union where they were executed during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s).

Despite the political turmoil, the kingdom experienced a creative boom before World War II. New Serbian poets included: Milos Crnjanski ("Dnevnik o Carnojevicu/ Diary of Carnojevic", 1921; "Seobe/ Migrations", 1929), Momcilo Nastasijevic ("Pet Lirskih Krugova/ Five Lyric Circles", 1932; "Magnovenja i Odjeci/ Moments and Echoes", 1938), Aleksandar Vuco ("Humor Zaspalo/ Humour Asleep", 1930), Milan Dedinac ("Javna Ptica/ The Public Bird", 1926), Oskar Davico ("Hana", 1939; "Covekov Covek/ A Man's Man", 1953), and Skender Kulenovic ("Ocvale Primule", 1927). Serbian novels of the period between the two world wars included: Veljko Milicevic's "Opsene/ The Wilderness" (1922), Branimir Cosic's "Pakoseno Polje/ The Mown Field" (1934) and Rastko Petrovic's "Burleska Gospodina Peruna Boga Groma" (1921). A woman who broke gender stereotypes was the art and music critic Isidora Sekulic, who wrote the novel "Kronika Palanackog Groblja" (1940). The first female poet to make inroads in Serbia's intellectual world was Desanka Maksimovic ("Pesme", 1924), although the collections that brought her national fame came much later ("Trazim Pomilovanje/ I Seek Clemency", 1964; "Nemam Vise Vremena/ My Time Is Running Short", 1973). Meanwhile, Croatia boasted poets like Augustin Ujevic ("Lelek Sebra/ Cry of a Slave", 1920), Miroslav Krleza ("Povratak Filipa Latinovicza/ The Return of Philip Latinovicz", 1932), Dobrisa Cesaric ("Lirika", 1931), and Ivan Goran Kovacic ("Jama", 1944), and one of Europe's best playwrights, Miroslav Krleza ("Gospoda Glembajevi", 1928; "U Agoniji", 1928; "Leda", 1932), whereas Slovenian theater had Bratko Kreft ("Velika Puntarija", 1937). The giant of Yugoslav literature before communism was Ivo Andric, a Bosnian wrote mostly in Croatian, who in 1945 published his historical novels "Na Drini Cuprija/ The Bridge on the Drina/ Il Ponte sulla Drina" (1945) and "Travnicka Chronika/ Bosnian Chronicle" (1945).

The first major composer of Yugoslavia was probably Josip Stolcer-Slavenski, author of the "Sinfonija Orijenta" (1934).

The beginnings of Yugoslav cinema were very humble, despite the proximity to Italy and Austria. The part of Yugoslavia controlled by Austria had movie theaters a little earlier (Zagreb in 1906), but Belgrade got its first movie theater only in 1909. The first major Serbian film was the only film directed by stage actor Ilija Stanojevic, Zivot i Dela Besmrtnog Vozda Karadorda/ The Life and Deeds of the Immortal Vozd Karadorde (1911), starring the more famous stage actor Milorad Petrovic, a biopic of the early 19th-century Serbian revolutionary nicknamed Karadorde who led the independence struggle against the Ottoman Empire. Very few movies were made in the future Yugoslavia before and during World War I, notably Vladimir Totovic's Lopov kao Detektiv/ Thief as Detective (1916) in Novi Sad. Croatia's first feature-length movie was Brcko u Zagrebu/ Brcko in Zagreb (1917), made by comedian and playwright Arnost Grund (who adapted his play "Alaj su nas Nasamarili/ They Tricked us") and a group of stage actors (many sources quote Arsen Maas as director but Arsen Maas never existed). Croatian director Tito Strozzi (an ethnic Italian) directed the full-length feature Dvorovi u Samoci/ Deserted Palaces (1925). At the time Croatia was still part of Austria. In different parts of Serbia several pioneers made feature films: Bela Fabian's Lazi Mene Radi/ Lie for Me (1923) in Sombor, and Josip Novak's Rudareva Sreca (1929) and Kosta Novakovic's Gresnica bez Greha/ A Sinner without Sin (1930) in Belgrade (Serbia). During the silent era, Yugoslav production was mostly limited to documentaries and newsreels.

Sound didn't improve the situation. If possible, it made it worse because it required a bigger investment. The first Croatian talkie was Oktavijan Miletic's Sesir (1937). The first Serbian talkie was Nevinost bez Zastite/ Innocence Unprotected (1943), written, directed, produced and performed by circus performer Dragoljub Aleksic in collaboration with cinematographer Stevan Miskovic, a film banned first by the Germans (who were occupying Serbia during World War II) and then by Tito's communist regime, so that it was not shown until Dusan Makavejev rediscovered it in 1968.

World War II was an absolute mess in Yugoslavia. Germany, Italy and Hungary invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941. The Germans installed a puppet government in Croatia led by the fascist Ustase. A colonel who refused to surrender to the Germans, Draza Mihailovic, reorganized the Cetnici or Chetniks, a legendary guerrilla force that had beem around since the Balkan wars against the Ottoman Empire. Just like the Ustase were, first and foremost, Croatian nationalists, the Chetniks were Serbian nationalists who in theory were opposed to the Nazi-fascist occupation but in practice aimed to create a greater Serbia. In fact the Chetniks ended up killing many more Croats, Bosnian Muslims and communists than Germans. The Ustase in turn massacring Serbs. The Ustase set up the Jasenovac extermination camp for Serbs, gypsies and Jews, which at one point became the third largest concentration camp in Europe (of the 83 thousand victims, 23 thousand were women and 20 thousand were children). The only ones truly fighting the Germans were the communist partisans led by Josip "Tito" Broz (the leader of the Communist Party since 1936), who eventually prevailed.

At the end of World War II Yugoslavia was a communist country ruled by former guerrilla leader Tito, a Croat who worked out a federative structure for the six republics with capital in the capital of Serbia, Belgrade. The unity of that federation relied on the centralization of power established by the Communist Party. Tito proclaimed his own brand of communism: in 1948 Tito famously challenged Stalin's authority, risking a Soviet invasion, Yugoslavia was expelled from the international communist organization, and the communist neighbors imposed an economic blockade on Yugoslavia which caused a severe economic crisis. Nonetheless Tito persisted: Yugoslavia did not participate in the Soviet invasions of Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968), and in 1961 Yugoslavia hosted the first summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. More importantly for the arts, censorship was never as harsh as in the rest of Eastern Europe: Tito was busy fighting the Stalinists, not the "revisionists". Whereas Stalin in the Soviet Union was sending to the gulags those who were not loyal to him, Tito in Yugoslavia created concentration camps for those loyal to Stalin, the first and most famous of his gulags being the one set up in 1949 in the island of Goli Otok. Censorship was further relaxed after 1954 (the beginning of the liberalization, following Stalin’s death in 1953) and after 1965 (the beginning of the economic reforms) and 1966 (when the chief of the dreaded secret police, Aleksandar Rankovic, lost his job). The purges were not as systematic, the secret police was not as ruthless, the media were allowed more freedom. The secret police was more interested in assassinating the opposition in exile than in persecuting dissidents at home. The worst that happened to Yugoslav dissidents at home was jail, but even from jail most of them were able to publish important books, some of them bestsellers in Western Europe: politician Dragoljub Jovanovic (imprisoned from 1947 to 1956), Serbian novelist Borislav Pekic (1948-53), politician Milovan Đilas (imprisoned in 1957-66), scholar Mihajlo Mihajlov (1966-70, 1974-77), etc. Slovenian poet Edvard Kocbek was banned from public life for 12 years (1952-64). Yugoslavia was a relatively open country, with many contacts with the Western countries. And so in 1952 Krleza was free to speak against socialist realism, in 1960 the Croatian physicist and philosopher Ivan Supek was able to establish the Institute for the Philosophy of Science and Peace, and in 1964 Desanka Maksimovic was free to criticize socialism in "Trazim Pomilovanje/ I Seek Clemency". Tito was not an intellectual, he was a man with no artistic or literary education, but he loved the arts and supported the artists.

Yugoslavia was the most "difficult" state of Europe: it was a multi-ethnic state made of six republics (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro) speaking four different languages (Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian and Macedonian) and worshipping three religions (the Croats were Catholic, the Bosnians mostly Muslim and the others Orthodox Christians). Slovenia and Croatia were richer than Serbia, but Serbia was thinking of Yugoslavia as simply a greater Serbian kingdom. Croatia and Slovenia were in favor of a loose federation, whereas Serbia wanted a centralized state (which redistributed revenues to the poorest regions). Tito (himself a Croat) had to grant new constitutions starting in 1963 that slowly but steadily granted more powers to the six republics. The Croats were probably the toughest to subjugate into Tito's communist Yugoslavia because many still mourned the fascist puppet state that Nazi Germany had gifted them during World War II. In fact, World War II in Yugoslavia had largely been a civil war in which atrocities were committed by both Serbs and Croats against each other.

However, Tito invented Serbo-Croatian as the official language of the country, despite the obvious fact that they were two different Slavic languages with two different histories and the animosity between the two peooples. The dictionary of this language was published in 1967 and was the match that lit up the dormant Croatian nationalism. Serb intellectuals argued that Croatian was only a dialect of Serbian, but Croat intellectuals thought otherwise. Croatian politicians like prime minister Savka Dabcevic-Kucar, Mika Tripalo and Pero Pirker demanded increasing autonomy for Croatia in what came to be known as the Hrvatsko Proljece (Croatian Spring). While Croatian students in Zagreb demanded more autonomy for Croatia, Serb students demonstrated in Belgrade (in June 1968) against decentralization. In November 1971 Croatian students protested against Tito's government and in 1972 Tito terminated the "Croatian Spring" by purging the Croatian communist party of all those deemed responsible for the riots.

Despite all the infighting the "Serbo-Croatian" literature of the Tito era was impressive. The language was one, but regional differences remained. Croatian novels of the Tito era include: Vladan Desnica's "Proljeca Ivana Galeba/ The Springtimes of Ivan Galeb" (1957), Miroslav Krleza's "Zastave" (1962), Ranko Marinkovic's "Kiklop" (1965) and Slobodan Novak's "Miris Zlato i Tamjan/ Gold Frankincense and Myrrh" (1968).

Serbian culture was the main beneficiary of the Tito era. Important novels coming out of Serbia included: Branko Copic's "Breakthrough/ Prolom" (1952), Mihailo Lalic's "Lelejska Gora/ The Wailing Mountain" (1957), Oskar Davico's "Radni Naslov Beskraja/ The Working Title of the Infinite" (1958), Mesa Selimovic's "Dervis i Smrt/ The Dervish and Death" (1966), Moma Dimic's "Ziveo zivot Tola Manojlovic/ The Life of Tola Manojlovic" (1966), Erih Kos's "Mreza/ Nets" (1967), Dragoslav Mihailovic's "Frede Laku Noc/ Good Night Fred" (1967) and "Kad su Cvetale Tikve/ When Pumpkins Blossomed" (1968), Miodrag Bulatovic's "Heroj na Magarcu/ Hero on a Donkey" (1967) and "Ljudi sa Cetiri Prsta/ People with Four Fingers" (1975), Borislav Pekic's "Hodocasce Arsenija Njegovana/ The Pilgrimage of Arsenio Njegovan/ The Houses of Belgrade" (1970) and "Zlatno Runo/ The Golden Fleece" (1986), Mirko Kovac's "Zivotopis Malvine Trifkovic/ The Story of Malvina Trifkovic" (1976), Aleksandar Tisma's "Upotreba Coveka/ The Uses of Man" (1976), Dobrica Cosic's "Vreme Smrti/ The Time of Death I-IV" (1979), Bosko Petrovic's "Pevac/ The Singer" (1980), and Bora Cosic's "Uloga Moje Porodice u Svetskoj Revoluciji/ My Family's Role in the World Revolution" (1969) and "Tuton/ The Tutors" (1978). The main Serbian writer of the era was probably Danilo Kis, who penned the novels "Pescanik/ Hourglass" (1972), "Grobnica za Borisa Davidovicha/ A Tomb for Boris Davidovich" (1976), and "Enciklopedija Mrtvih/ Encyclopedia of the Dead" (1989).

And there were also Ante Popovski's "Druzinata Bratsko Steblo/ The Brotherly Tree Gang" (1964) in Macedonia and Florjan Lipus's "Zmote Dijaka Tjaza/ The Mistakes of High-school Student Tjaza" (1972) in Slovenia.

Poetry was receding in importance, but still yielded Vasko Popa ("Kora/ Crust", 1953), Miodrag Pavlovic ("Velika Skitija/ The Great Scythia", 1968; "Vidovnica", 1979), Stevan Raickovic ("Kamena Uspavanka/ Stone Lullaby", 1963), Ivan Lalic ("Argonauti i Druge Pesme/ The Argonauts and other Poems", 1961; "Vizantija/ Byzantium", 1987; "Pismo/ The Letter", 1992) and Branko Miljkovic ("Uzalud je Budim/ In Vain I Wake Her", 1956; "Poreklo Nade i Vatra i Nista/ Fire and Nothingness", 1960) in Serbia, Slavko Mihalic in Croatia ("Priblizavanje Oluje/ The Coming of the Storm", 1961), Mak Dizdar in Bosnia ("Kameni Spavae/ Stone Sleeper", 1966), Mateja Matevski in Macedonia ("Dozdovi/ Rains", 1956; "Crna Kula/ The Black Tower", 1992), Milan Jesih in Slovenia ("Kobalt", 1976),

Croatian theater had Ranko Marinkovic ("Glorija", 1955) and Marijan Matkovic ("Igra Oko Smrti/ Death Play", 1955; "I Bogovi Pate/ Gods Suffer Too", 1962), while Slovenia had Gregor Strnisa ("Samorog/ Unicorn", 1967) and Dusan Jovanovic ("Igrajte Tumor v Glavi in Onesnazevanje Zraka/ Act a Brain Tumor and Air Pollution", 1971; "Zid Jezero/ The Wall the Lake", 1989). Again, Serbia had the lion's share of playwrights: Aleksandar Popovic ("Ljubinko i Desanka", 1963; "Carapa od Sto Petlji/ The Hundred Loop Stocking", 1965; etc), Velimir Lukic ("A Sea Turned to Stone", 1962; "The Long Life of King Oswald", 1963; etc), and Dusan Kovacevic ("Maratonci Trce Pocasni Krug/ The Marathoners' Victory Lap", 1973; "The Balkan Spy", 1983; etc).

The "Byzantine Concerto" (1959) and the cantata "The Threshold of Dream" (1961) revealed Serbian composer Ljubica Maric. Croatia's main symphonic composer was possibly Stjepan Sulek, and Serbia's was possibly Vasilije Mokranjac.

Tito's regime invested more in cinema than any Serbian government had done before. In 1946 it opened a film production company, Avala Film, with studios in Belgrade built to resemble Italy's Cinecitta`. Thanks to the regime's relative benign censorship, Yugoslav cinema was the Balkan cinema that showed signs of the most vitality. Many of the Yugoslav filmmakers were also allowed to travel and study abroad.

Resistance against the nazi-fascists was a popular theme. Vjekoslav Afric pioneered the genre with Slavica (1947) and Barba Zvane/ Uncle Zvane (1949). Rados Novakovic became the specialist of this "partisan" genre with Decak Mita/ Mita's Boy (1951), scripted by Oskar Davico; Daleko je Sunce/ The Sun Is Far Away (1953), an adaptation of Dobrica Cosic's novel; and Vetar je stao pred zoru/ The Wind Stopped before Dawn (1959), scripted by Aleksandar Vuco.

There were many more: Vojislav Nanovic's Besmrtna Mladost/ Immortal Youth (1948), made by a former partisan himself; France Stiglic's Na Svoji Zemlij/ On Our Own Land (1948), Slovenia's first sound film; Vladimir Pogacic's Poslednji Dan/ The Last Day (1951), scripted by Oskar Davico; Gustav Gavrin's Bila sam Jaca/ I Was Stronger (1953), starring theatrical actress Mira Stupica (born Miroslava Todorovic); Stole Jankovic's Kroz Granje Nebo/ The Sky Through the Trees (1958), written by Antonije Isakovic and starring Branko Plesa; Vojislav Bjenjas' Rafal u Nebo/ Shots in the Sky (1958), written by Bogdan Jovanovic; Zika Mitrovic's Signali Nad Gradom/ Signal Over the City (1960), scripted by Slavko Goldstein, and Kapetan Lesi/ Captain Lechi (1960); Veliko Bulajic's Kozara (1962), starring Dragomir Felba, Ljubisa Samardzic, Milena Dravic and Velimir "Bata" Zivojinovic; Mladomir "Purisa" Djordjevic/Đordevic's Devojka/ The Girl (1965), starring Samardzic and Dravic (by then the most popular couple of Yugoslav cinema), first of a tetralogy; Bulajic's international co-production Bitka na Neretvi/ Battle of Neretva (1969), photographed by Tomislav Pinter, the archetype of Yugoslavia's "communist western", starring Zivojinovic, Samardzic, Dravic and Pavle Vuisic (and even Orson Welles, Sergei Bondarchuk, Yul Brynner and Franco Nero); etc.

Another popular genre was the Serbian folklore, like Vojislav Nanovic's Cudotvorni Mac/ The Magic Sword (1950), starring Rade Markovic, based on Serbian folk tales.

There was also a vibrant school of animated shorts, mostly based in Zagreb (Croatia), including the young Vatroslav Mimica (Samac (Lonely guy, 1958), Dusan Vukotic (Surogat, 1961), Vladimir Kristl (Don Kihot, 1961) and Zlatko Grgic (the television cartoon Profesor Baltazar, 1967).

Czech director Frantisek Cap moved to Slovenia and directed the romantic comedies Vesna (1953) and Ne Cakaj na Maj/ Don't Wait for May (1957), the first hits of Slovenia's cinema.

The first color film of Yugoslavia, Pop Cira i Pop Spira/ Priests Cira and Spira (1957), was made by the rare female director, Soja Jovanovic.

Other popular movies of the early Tito era include: Nikola Tanhofer's war movie Nije Bilo Uzalud/ It Was Not in Vain (1957), starring Ljuba Tadic, and his harrowing drama H8 (1958); Fedor Hanzekovic's Svoga Tela Gospodar/ Master of His Own Body (1957), based on a story by Slavko Kolar and filmed in a Croatian dialect; Vojislav Nanovic's drama of jealousy Tri Koraka u Prazno/ Three Steps into the Void (1958), starring Pavle Vuisic; Veliko Bulajic's rural fresco Vlak Bez Voznog Reda/ Train Without a Timetable (1959); Zdravko Velimirovic's drama Dan Cetrnaesti/ The Fourteenth Day (1960), scripted by Borislav Pekic; France Stiglic's Deveti Krug/ The Ninth Circle (1960), a tragic love story between a Catholic and a Jewish girl during the Ustase dictatorship of World War II, that launched the career of two 16-year-old actresses, Dusica Zegarac and Beba Loncar; Sava Mrmak's musical Zvizduk u Osam/ The Eight O'Clock Whistle (1962); Miodrag Popovic's period drama Roj (1966), starring Mira Stupica and Olivera Katarina; Bosnian director Bato Cengic's allegorical parable Mali Vojnici/ Playing Soldiers (1967) in Bosnia, scripted by Mirko Kovac, in which orphans of war end up emulating the war of the adults; etc.

The Croatian filmmaker Branko Bauer made Ne Okreci se Sine/ Don't Look Back My Son (1956), an odd remake of Carol Reed's Odd Man Out, the neorealist Tri Ane/ Three Girls Named Anna 1959), made in Macedonia, the love story Prekobrojna/ Superfluous (1962), the film that launched the career of actress Milena Dravic, and especially Licem u Lice/ Face to Face (1963), a film that opened the floodgates to political discourse in cinema.

Besides his two partisan movies, Zika Mitrovic also made war movies like Solunski Atentatori/ Thessaloniki Assassins (1961), set in the early 20th century during a Macedonian uprising against the Ottomans, Nevesinjska Puska/ Thundering Mountains (1963), set in the late 19th century during a Bosnian uprising against the Ottomas, and Mars na Drinu/ March on the Drina (1964), set during World War I and written by poet Arsen Diklic.

Some films presaged the intellectual cinema that was about to come: Jovan Zivanovic's Cudna Devojka/ Strange Girl (1962), adapted from Grozdana Olujic's novel "Izlet u Nebo/ Walk to Heaven" (1958); Mica Popovic's noir war movie Covek iz Hrastove Sume/ The Man from the Oak Forest (1964), starring Mija Aleksic and scored by composer Zoran Hristic; Fadil Hadzic's drama Sluzbeni Polozaj/ Official Position (1964), starring Milena Dravic and Olivera Markovic; Croatian animator Vatroslav Mimica's existential dramas Prometej s Otoka Visevice/ Prometheus of the Island (1965), photographed by Croad cinematographer Tomislav Pinter, and Ponedjeljak ili Utorak/ Monday or Tuesday (1966), Zika Mitrovic's thriller Noz/ The Knife (1967), starring Zivojinovic, Samardzic and Rade Markovic; Mladomir "Purisa" Đordevic's post-war drama Jutro/ Morning (1967), starring Samardzic, Dravic and Neda Arneric; and Stole Jankovic's Visnja na Tasmajdanu/ The Girl in the Park (1968), another film that launched Arneric.

There were several hit comedies: Soja Jovanovic's Dilizansa Snova/ The Dreams Came by Coach (1960), adapted from Jovan Sterija Popovic's farces; Ljubomir Radicevic's Ljubav i Moda / Love and Fashion (1960), the other Beba Loncar hit of the year, and an even bigger one, also starring Mija Aleksic and Croatian pop singer Gabi Novak; Soya Jovanovic's Dr (1962), starring Mija Aleksic and Beba Loncar; Obrad Gluscevic's Lito Vilovito (1964), starring both Beba Loncar (by then an international sex-symbol) and Milena Dravic; Brank Celovic's Bokseri idu u Raj/ Boxers go to Heaven (1967), starring Mija Aleksic; etc.

The main comedian of the era was perhaps Miodrag Petrovic-Ckalja, made popular in theater by Branislav Nusic's farces (like "Put Oko Sveta/ A Trip Around the World", which in 1964 Soja Jovanovic adapted for cinema) and on television by Radivoje "Lola" Djukic's television series Servisna Stanica (1959-60) and Muzej Vostanih Figura (1962–63). Djukic also directed him in comic movies such as Nema Malih Bogova/ There are no minor Gods (1961) and Sreca u Torbi/ Bag of Luck (1961).

Notably missing among the top genres of Yugoslav cinema was socialist realism, which was popular if not mandatory in all other communist countries.

Several magazines appeared at this time, notably Filmska Kritika (1957).

One of the effects of communism was that it erased the division between Croatian and Serbian culture, in particular cinema. The audience was not thinking of Branko Bauer, Nikola Tanhofer, Fadil Hadzic, Fedor Hanzekovic and Lordan Zafranovic as Croatian filmmakers, but simply Yugoslav ones.

Yugoslav cinema was ready for a quantum jump in quality, also influenced by the Czech new wave and by the French nouvelle vague. While sex and politics were generally off limits in the other communist countries, they percolated into Yugoslav cinema. A whole new kind of cinema, expressing a more critical form of realism and interested in more creative forms of filmmaking, emerged: the "Crni Val" ("Black Wave"), so named after an article by journalist Vladimir Jovicic ( "Crni Talas u Nasem Filmu/ "The Black Wave in Our Cinema", 1969).

Its main exponent was Dusan Makavejev, who debuted with Covek Nije Ptica/ Man Is Not a Bird (1965), a film that already showed his passion for fragmented storylines full of cryptic allegories. His film noir Ljubavni Slucaj Ili Tragedija Sluzbenice PTT/ Love Affair or the Tragedy of a Switchboard Operator (1967), the film that launched the career of screenwriter Branko Vucicevic, was also a psychiatric essay on libido, violence and alienation, incorporating documentarian footage and interviews (and featuring the first scene of female nudity in Yugoslav cinema). Both films starred Eva Ras (a Jew born Balas Vagner), who automatically became the sex-symbol of the movement. An even more complex (or just chaotic) multi-dimensional fresco/collage, W.R. - Misterije Organizma/ W.R.- Mysteries of the Organism (1971), starring Milena Dravic (and even Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs), contained a more explicit and direct attack against sexual taboos while indulging in his philosophical pessimism through a labyrinth of metaphors, and, on the surface, feeling like a multi-layered satire of both communism and capitalism. Forced into exile, Dusan Makavejev made his masterpiece, Sweet Movie (1974), a delirious and dizzying merry-go-round of allegorical scenes and allegorical dialogues; hyper-provocative, quasi-pornographic and proto-punk (including scenes of children raped and killed). Both worlds are hells: the capitalist world is shown as a giant machine to destroy innocence, an endless soul-less orgy of free sex, waste, alienation and libido, while the socialist world is a genocidal machine. His madcap sociopolitical fresco mixed Godard's montage, Warhol's pop art, Brecht's agit-prop theater, Beckett's absurdism and Dada's anarchic nihilism.

The novelist Zivojin "Zika" Pavlovic crafted portraits of doomed loser, like in Kad Budem Mrtav i Beo/ When I Am Dead and Gone (1967), written by Ljubiša Kozomara and Gordan Mihic, the film that launched actor Dragan Nikolic besides the already famous actress Ruzica Sokic, and Budenje Pacova/ The Rats Woke Up (1967), and made gloomy rural Slovenian melodramas like Rdece Klasje/ Red Wheat (1970) and Let Mrtve Price/ The Flight of a Dead Bird (1973).

Aleksandar Petrovic blended peasant folklore and libertarian idealism in Skupljaci Perja/ I Even Met Happy Gypsies (1967), shot by Tomislav Pinter, starring famous singer Olivera Katarina and gypsy characters played by real gypsies speaking in their own language, and in Bice Skoro Propast Sveta/ The End of the World Is Near/ It Rains in My Village (1968), a tragic love story set in an isolated village.

Zelimir Zilnik, born in a concentration camp, the son of two communists who were executed, criticized the Tito regime in Rani Radovi/ Early Works (1969), scripted by Branko Vucicevic and photographed by Slovenian cinematographer Karpo Godina.

Croatia was in the middle of its Croatian Spring, which added fueld to the Black Wave with Zvonimir Berkovic's Rondo (1966), Ante Babaja's Breza/ The Birch Tree (1967), Krsto Papic's Lisice/ Handcuffs (1969), perhaps the most significant Black Wave film from Croatia, and Branko Ivanda's "Gravitacija ili Fantasticna Mladost Cinovnika Borisa Horvata/ Gravitation (1969), starring Rade Serbedzija.

Lordan Zafranovic, perhaps the most important filmmaker of the Croatian Spring, started out analyzing generational conflicts in Nedjelja/ Sunday (1969), starring Goran Markovic, and criticizing the "bourgeoisization" of the working class in Muke po Mati/ Passion According to Matthew (1975), photographed by Karpo Godina, which began the collaboration with screenwriter Mirko Kovac and together they worked on a trilogy of partisan movies that began with Okupacija u 26 Slika/ Occupation in 26 Pictures (1978), also photographed by Godina, set in the early days of World War II in Croatia when the Germans and the Italians invaded and installed the fascist Ustase.

Critics assailed the Black Wave because they denigrated their country by depicting gloomy stories set in gloomy cities and projected a pessimistic view of communist society. Verbal attacks against Black Wave films became louder and more vicious in the late 1960s. While the directors were still largerly free to continue filming "pessimistic" stories, the hostility kept growing. Makavejev went into exile after 1971. Mika Antic's films, such as Dorucak sa Djavolom/ Breakfast with the Devil (1971), critical of Tito's regime, were banned and only rediscovered in the 1990s.

"Black Wave" films of the 1970s included: Lazar Stojanovic's Plasticni Isus/ Plastic Jesus (1971); Jovan Zivanovic's I Bog Stvori Kafansku Pevacicu/ And God Created a Bar Singer (1972), starring Vera Cukic and Bata Zivojinovic; Vladimir Tadej's Zuta/ The Yellow One (1973), starring Ruzica Sokic; etc.

Djordje Kadijevic's Leptirica/ The She-Butterfly (1973), about a female vampire, based on Milovan Glisic's gothic story "Posle Devedeset Godina/ After Ninety Years" (1880), was the first horror movie of Yugoslavia.

Zafranovic was part of the so-called "Praska Filmska Skola" ("Prague School"), the Yugoslav directors who studied at the prestigious Czech film school FAMU. The other returning FAMU students were Rajko Grlic (also a Croat), Goran Markovic, Goran Paskaljevic and Srdan Karanovic.

Goran Paskaljevic was the vanguard of the "Prague school" with the tragicomedy Cuvar Plaze u Zimskom Periodu/ Beach Guard in Winter (1976) and Pas Koji je Voleo Vozove/ The Dog Who Loved Trains (1977), both written by playwright Gordan Mihic, photographed by Aleksandar Petkovic, scored by Zoran Hristic and starring Irfan Mensur. These films relied on simple stories and a touching style, like a Yugoslav version of DeSica's humane neorelism. He also made Zemaljski Dani Teku/ The Days on Earth Are Flowing/ These Earthly Days Go Rolling By (1979), which employed only non-actors and started his collaboration with cinematographer Milan Spasic. The collaboration with Mihic later yielded the comedy Varljivo Leto '68/ The Elusive Summer of '68 (1984) and the moving melodrama Tango Argentino (1992), while Paskaljevic wrote himself the terrifying social fresco Andjeo Cuvar/ Guardian Angel (1987), about gypsy children sold into slavery, the latter two scored by composer Zoran Simjanovic.

Rajko Grlic emerged with Bravo Maestro (1978), scripted with Srdjan Karanovic, starring Rade Serbedzija as a bohemian composer, and the tragic love story Samo Jednom se Ljubi/ You Only Love Once (1981), set in the early Tito era.

Goran Markovic debuted with Specijalno Vaspitanje/ Special Education (1977), which, besides starring Samardzic in one of his most famous roles, launched young actors Aleksandar Bercek and Branislav Lecic, followed by the comedy Nacionalna Klasa/ National Class (1979), starring Dragan Nikolic, Gorica Popovic and several pop stars.

Srdan Karanovic collaborated with Rajko Grlic (now a screenwriter) for the philosophical Miris Poljskog Cveca/ Fragrance of Wild Flowers (1977), Petrijin Venae/ Petrija’s Wreath (1980), a historical saga set in a mining community, the film that launched the career of actress Mirjana Karanovic, and Jagode u Grlu/ A Throatful of Strawberries (1985), about the reunion of four former students, all born in 1945 a sort of Yugoslav version of Ettore Scola's C'Eravamo tanto Amati/ We All Loved Each Other So Much.

Partisan films remained Yugoslavia's specialty, one of its few export hits: Hajrudin Krvavac's Valter Brani Sarajevo/ Walter Defends Sarajevo (1972), starring Zivojinovic, Samardzic and Rade Markovic; Aleksandar Djordjevic's Otpisani/ The Written-Off (1974), scripted by Dragan Markovic and Sinisa Pavic, and starring Dragan Nikolic and Voja Brajovic (who later impersonated the partisan in two popular TV series); Zika Mitrovic's third major excursion in the genre, Uzicka Republika/ Guns of War (1974), starring Ruzica Sokic; Zdravko Velimirovic's Vrhovi Zelengore/ The Peaks of Zelengora (1976); Zika Pavlovic's Hajka/ Manhunt (1977), starring Rade Šerbedzija and Vuisic; Branko Bauer's Bosko Buha (1978), an adaptation of Dobrica Cosic's book about a famous 17-year-old partisan killed by the Chetniks, the debut of actor Dragan Bjelogrlic; and especially the masterpiece of the genre, Lordan Zafranovic's Okupacija u 26 Slika/ Occupation in 26 Pictures (1978). There were many more throughout the 1970s, but the genre was becoming less and less appealing to the domestic audience. These movies recycled the same actors and often were international coproductions with foreign actors or at least targeting the international audience.

Yugoslav comedy of the time was influenced by the "commedia all'Italiana" and sometimes by erotic Italian faces. Among the popular ones were: Kreso Golik's nostalgic comedy Tko Pjeva Zlo ne Misli/ One Song a Day Takes Mischief Away (1970), set in pre-war Zagreb; Mica Popovic's comedy Burdus (1970); Zoran Calic's comedy Lude Godine/ Foolish Years (1977), which had a record nine sequels (collectively known as "Zikina Dinastija/ Zika's Dynasty"); and Dejan Karaklajic's comedy Ljubavni Zivot Budimira Trajkovica/ Love Life of Budimir Trajkovic (1977), starring Milena Dravic and Ljubisa Samardzic.

Popular dramas of the 1970s included: Zdravko Velimirovic's Dervis i Smrt/ Death and the Dervish (1974), an adaptation of Mesa Selimovic's novel; Slovenian director Bostjan Hladnik's Bele Trave/ White grass (1976); Aleksandar Djurcinov's Ispravi se Delfina/ Stand Up Straight Delfina (1977), a biopic of a Yugoslav woman who swam the English Channel in 1969, starring Neda Arneric (by then the new sex–symbol of Yugoslav cinema); Montenegrin director Zivko Nikolic's metaphysical and Freudian fairy tale Bestije/ The Beasts (1977); and the political thriller Fadil Hadzic's Novinar/ Journalist (1979), starring Rade Serbedzija.

Slovenian director Matjaz Klopcic made two erotic-tinged films Strah/ Fear (1974), about the decadent lifestyle of the late Austro-Hungaric Empire, and Vcovstvo Karoline Zasler/ The Widowhood of Karolina Zasler (1976), photographed by Tomislav Pinter and scripted by Slovenian playwright Tone Partljic.

Tito died in 1980. Nobody could fill the void. At the end of his life Tito had already promoted a principle of collective rule starting with the introduction of a rotating chairman of the Communist Party. After his death, this principle of rotation was extended to party functionaries at all levels. But this resulted in a weaker central authority, political gridlock and economic crisis. In 1982 Yugoslavia's annual inflation passed 30% and its currency (the dinar) crashed, largely because of a huge foreign debt. The "junta" had to embrace unpopular radical austerity measures. The six republics were increasingly autonomous. Yugoslavia was de-facto run for ten years by a collective leadership with representatives from each republic, with each republic acquiring more and more autonomy. In 1987 Slobodan Milosevic seized power in Serbia and declared his intent to restore Serbia's dominance in Yugoslavia. In 1989 protests erupted in Kosovo, an ethnic Albanian (and Muslim) region of Serbia, against the abolition of its autonomy, a premonition of the civil war that engulfed Yugoslavia in 1991.

The 88-year-old Tito died at a time when Yugoslavia was less free internally. Tito himself had cracked down on the Croatian Spring and on Slovenia's economic aspirations. The collective leadership that ruled in the 1980s continued that trajectory of dogmatic stagnation.

The arts suffered at this time, but Yugoslavian writers still produced novels such as Antonije Isakovic's "Tren" (1982), about Tito's concentration camps (published only after Tito’s death), Jovan Radulovic's "Braca po Materi/ Half Brothers" (1986) and, in Croatia, Nedjeljko Fabrio's "Vjezbanje Zivota/ Exercising Life" (1985). Serbia was now the cultural leader of the federation and its major novelist was perhaps Milorad Pavic, who published "Predeo Slikan Cajem/ A Landscape Painted in Tea" (1985) and especially "Hazarski Recnik/ Dictionary of the Khazars" (1988), one of Serbia's masterpieces. Despite Slovenia's vibrant poetry scene, which talents such as Boris Novak ("1001 Stih/ 1001 Verses, 1983) and Tomaz Salamun ("Balada za Metko Krasovec/ A Ballad for Metka Krasovec", 1981), the main poet was again a Serb, Matija Beckovic ("Bogojav-ljenje/ Epiphany", 1985; "Kaza/ A Tale", 1988). Croatia, however, could boast a new leading playwright, Lada Kastelan ("Posljednja Karika/ The Last Link", 1994). Dusan Jovanovic’s play "The Karamazovs" (1980) was another work that confronted Tito's persecution of Stalinists.

Cinema was in transition, after the creativity boom of the Black Wave and before the creativity boom of the 1990s.

The Zagreb school of animation produced several avantgarde shorts: Zdenko Gasparovic's Satiemania (1978), Joško Marušic's Riblje Oko/ Fisheye (1982), Aleksandar Marks' Opsesija/ Obsession (1983), Pavao Stalter's Kuca br 42/ House No 42 (1984), etc.

Slovenian cinematographer Karpo Godina directed two stylish films: Splav Meduze/ The Medusa Raft (1980), written by Branko Vucicevic, and boasting a soundtrack by brothers Predrag and Mladen Vranesevic (later the founders of rock band Laboratorija Zvuka), set in the 1920s, about a group of nomadic eccentric artists assembled around a bohemian poet who worships Dada and Futurism (almost a Yugoslav version of the California hippies of the 1960s), and Rdeci Boogie/ Red Boogie (1982), written by Slovenian writer Branko Somen, set in 1948 (the year when Tito split from Stalin), which criticized socialist realism through the mis-adventures of five young musicians who love jazz sent to cheer up cooperative workers with folk songs.

The new master of comedy was the Serbian director Slobodan Sijan. Two were written by Dusan Kovacevic and photographed by Bozidar Nikolic, both with imposing casts: Ko to Tamo Peva/ Who's Singin' Over There? (1980), set on the day when the Germans invaded, with music by Vojislav Kostic, starring Pavle Vujisic, Dragan Nikolic, Danilo Stojkovic, Aleksandar Bercek and Neda Arneric; and Maratonci Trce Pocasni Krug/ The Marathon Family (1982), set after the assassination of king Alexander, with music by Zoran Simjanovic, starring Bogdan Diklic, Stojkovic and Vuisic, as well as the comedic duo of Seka Sablic and Zoran Radmilovic. Sijan's Davitel Protiv Davitelja/ Strangler vs Strangler (1984), instead, feels like a parody of horror movies.

Other popular comedies of the 1980s include: Mica Miloševic's Decko Koji Obecava/ The Promising Boy (1981), starring Aleksandar Bercek, and even more Tesna Koza/ A Tight Spot (1982), starring Nikola Simic; Montenegrin director's Branko Baletic's Balkan Ekspres/ Balkan Express (1983), written by Gordan Mihic and starring Dragan Nikolic; and Bozidar Nikolic's Balkanski Spijun/ Balkan Spy (1984), an adaptation of Dusan Kovacevic's play, starring Bata Stojkovic and Sonja Savic, about the involuntary Stalinists who ends up in prison after Tito's split with Stalin.

A new major talent emerged out of Bosnia, perhaps the greatest that the Balkans ever saw: Emir Kusturica, whose first two feature films were both photographed by Viko Filac, scripted by Bosnian playwright Abdulah Sidran and scored by composer Zoran Simjanovic: Sjekas li se Dolly Bel?/ Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (1981) and Otac na Sluzbenom Putu/ When Father Was Away on Business (1985), starring Miki Manojlovic and Mirjana Karanovic. Co-written with playwright Gordan Mihic, starring Dujmovic again, photographed by Filac and with music by Goran Bregovic, Dom za vesanje/ Time of the Gypsies (1988) is the odyssey of a gypsy boy blessed with supernatural powers.

Croatian director Zoran Tadic and screenwriter Pavao Pavlicic made the black-and-white sci-fi thriller Ritam Zlocina/ Rhythm of the Crime (1981) and the horror movie Treci Kljuc/ The Third Key (1983).

Zika Pavlovic continued his series of desperate dramas with Zadah Tela/ Body Scent (1983) and Na Putu za Katangu/ On the Road to Catanga (1987).

Partisan films all but disappeared in the 1980s, often replaced by war comedies such as Slobodan Sijan's Ko to Tamo Peva/ Who's Singin' Over There? (1980) and Branko Baletic's Balkan Ekspres (1983).

Macedonian director Stole Popov and screenwriter Gordan Mihic penned the ironically titled Srecna Nova ‘49/ Happy New Year 1949 (1986): 1949 was actually the year of Yugoslavia's worst economic crisis, and the film is about the hopes set in motion in 1948, the year of Tito's split with Stalin.

Zelimir Zilnik's post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie Lijepe Zene Prolaze Kroz Grad/ Pretty Women Walking Through the City (1986) was a prescient film which predicted how nationalist tensions would eventually cause the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

Goran Markovic, one of the most stylish directors, made the psychological thriller Vec Vidjeno/ Deja Vu/ Reflections (1987), starring Mustafa Nadarevic, and the metaphysical horror Sabirni Centar/ The Meeting Point (1989).

Bosnian director Ademir Kenovic made Ovo Malo Duse/ A Little Bit of Soul (1987), about the old folklore of rural Bosnia, and Kuduz (1989), a ballad about a legendary Bosnian outlaw, with music by Goran Bregovic.

Croatian director Milan Blazekovic crafted Yugoslavia's first full-length animated movies: Cudesna Suma/ The Elm-Chanted Forest (1986) and its sequel Carobnjakov Sesir/ The Magician's Hat (1990).

Other notable films of the 1980s were: Milos Radivojevic's polemic Živeti Kao Sav Normalan Svet/ Living Like the Rest of Us 1982); Bosnian director Boro Draskovic's violent parable Zivot je Lep/ Life is Beautiful (1985), adapted from Aleksandar Trsma's novel, starring Dragan Nikolic, Rade Serbedzija, Pavle Vuisic, Ljubisa Samardzic and Sonja Savic; Matjaž Klopcic's Dediscina/ The Inheritance (1985), a family saga that spans the period 1914-44; Živko Nikolic's Kafkaesque apologue U Ime Naroda/ In the Name of the People (1987); Slovenian filmmaker Filip Robar-Dorin's Veter v Mrezi/ The Windhunter (1989), a tribute to Slovenian cultural movement of the 1920s; etc. The disintegrating social order was increasingly at the center of both comedy and drama.

In 1990 the breakdown of Yugoslavia began in earnest. There were multi-party elections in each republic and the results showed that only in Serbia did the population support the communist federation. Slovenia and Croatia elected governments oriented towards greater autonomy, respectively led by Milan Kucan and Franjo Tudman. In August 1990 the Serbs protested in Croatia against Croatia's slide into independence. By now the Yugoslav army was widely viewed as the armed branch of the Serbian government, led by Milosevic. In 1991 communism was collapsing over Europe. The Soviet Union ceased to exist in December. Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia declared independence. The ethnic Serbs of Croatia declared their own independent republic. Serbia sided with them and war erupted between Serbia and Croatia. Proving that it was only a proxy for Milosevic's Serbian militia, the Yugoslav army massacred 260 non-Serbs in Vukovar (Croatia). In March 1992 Bosnia too (who population was 43% Muslims, 17% Croats and 31% Serbs) declared independence, but Serbian forces encircled its capital Sarajevo, a siege that would last until 1996, while fighting erupted throughout Bosnia, pitting each minority against the other, with Serbia and Croatia supporting their ethnic groups. By mid 1992 there was no doubt that Yugoslavia had plunged into civil war, the first European war since World War II. In July 1995 Ratko Mladic's Serbian militia committed the worst atrocity of the war: eight thousand Bosnian Muslims are killed in Srebenica, the worst European massacre since World War II. The "Dayton Accords" of November 1995, mediated by US president Bill Clinton, ended the Bosnian war. Bosnia was occupied by MATO. By then more than 100 thousand people had been killed in the former Yugoslavia: some 62 thousand Bosnians, some 33 thousand Serbs and some 20 thousand Croats. In 1998 the Kosovo Liberation Army, representing the ethnic Albanians of Serbia, rose up against Serbian rule. Serbia responded with a brutal crackdown. Hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians fled. In 1999 NATO bombed Serbia to stop Milosevic's policy of cleansing Kosovo of ethnic Albanians, the first time that NATO had intervened to defend a Muslim population from a Christian regime. By then more than 10 thousand ethnic Albanians and 2 thousand Serbs had been killed. The 1990s turned out to be a bloody decade for Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia, while Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro (technically still part of Yugoslavia's successor state) escaped the worst.

However, the civil war didn't stop Serbian intellectuals from producing great works of art: novels like Radoslav Petkovic's "Sudbina i Komentari/ Destiny and Comments" (1993), Zoran Zivkovic's "Cetvrti Krug/ The Fourth Circle" (1993), Slobodan Selenic's "Ubitsvo s Predumisljajem/ Premeditated Murder" (1993), Ljiljana Habjanovic-Djurovic's "Iva" (1994), Vidosav Stevanovic's "Sneg u Atini/ Snow and Dogs" (1994), Ratko Adamovic's "Besmrtni Kaleb/ The Immortal Kaleb" (1997) and Dragan Velikic's "Danteov Trg/ Dante's Square" (1998); the poetry of Dragan Danilov ("Kuca Bahove Muzike/ The House of Bach's Music", 1993), and the theater of Biljana Srbljanovic ("Beogradska Trilogija/ Belgrade Trilogy", 1996). The other republics produced at least Dubravka Ugresic's novel "Stefica Cvek u Raljama Zivota/ Steffie Speck in the Jaws of Life" (1992) in Croatia, Dimitar Basevski's poetry ("Privremen Prestoi/ Temporal Stay", 1995) in Macedonia, and Dejan Dukovski's plays ("Bure Baruta/ Powder Keg", 1994) also in Macedonia.

During these terrible times, Goran Markovic released the satirical Tito i Ja/ Tito and Me (1992) and Goran Paskaljevic returned with Bure Baruta/ Cabaret Balkan (1998), from a play by Dejan Dukovski, photographed by Milan Spasic and scored by Simjanovic, a merry-go-round of irrational violence during a freezing winter night that is another political allegory (this time for the Yugoslav civil war).

There were plenty of comedies: Mihailo Vukobratovic's Policajac sa Petlovog Brda/ The Policeman from the Cock's Hill (1992), written by Predrag Perisic and starring the veterans Ljubisa Samardzic and Milena Dravic (the same team of Karaklajic's Love Life of Budimir Trajkovic), Srdjan Dragojevic's Mi Nismo Andjeli/ We Are Not Angels (1992), Croatian director Vinko Bresan's Kako je Poceo Rat na Mom Otoku/ How the War Started on my Island (1997) and Marsal/ Marshal Tito's Spirit (1999). etc. Zdravko Sotra's Lajanje na zvezde / Barking at the Stars (1998),

Emir Kusturica crafted the sprawling epic Podzemlje/ Underground (1995), one of the greatest films of the era, an irreverent but realistic cross-section of Yugoslav history, dipped into grotesque horror, overflowing with symbols and parodies, an orgy of uncontrolled barbaric impulses marked by the heart-pounding tempos of Balkan music, scripted by playwright Dusan Kovacevic, starring Manojlovic, photographed as usual by Filac and with music by Bregovic. Crna Macka Beli Macor/ Black Cat White Cat (1998), written by Mihic and photographed by Thierry Arbogast, relying on many nonprofessional actors, and set in a milieu of gangsters and gypsies, is another flight of imagination that mixes epics and farce, grandeur and misery. Kusturica's demonic spirit shows no respect for moral values. Kusturica turned the former Yugoslavia into a medieval landscape of anarchy and decay where people are driven by primitive instincts in awful living conditions.

Other significant films of the decade were: Vladimir Blazevski's love story Bulevar Revolucije (1992), Darko Bajic's Crni Bombarder/ The Black Bomber (1992), Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski's war movie Pred Dozdot/ Before the Rain (1994), Srdjan Dragojevic's war movie Lepa Sela, Lepo Gore/ Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (1996), scripted by Vanja Bulic and starring Zivojinovic, a complex clockwork of flashbacks that spans three decades through the Bosnian civil war, and Bosnian veteran Ademir Kenovic's Savrseni Krug/ The Perfect Circle (1997), set in Sarajevo during the siege of 1992-1996.

Manchevski's Pred Dozdot/ Before the Rain (1994), Kusturica's Podzemlje/ Underground (1995) and Paskaljevic's Bure Baruta/ Cabaret Balkan (1998) were probably the best films to deal with the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

In 2000, facing popular demonstrations, Milosevic resigned and Yugoslavia (Serbia plus Montenegro) began the transition to real democracy under new president Vojislav Kostunica. In 2001 Milosevic was arrested and tried for crimes against humanity, In 2003 Yugoslavia renamed itself "Serbia and Montenegro" and in 2006 Montenegro seceded, the final nail on the coffin of Yugoslavia. Violence continued in Serbia (in 2003 Serbia's prime minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated and in 2008 Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia), but Slovenia and Croatia were rapidly integrated in the European Union (Slovenia in 2004, Croatia in 2013) and even adopted the euro as their currency (Slovenia in 2007 and Croatia in 2022). In 2010-11 Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia finally reconciled. In 2014 Aleksandr Vucic became prime-minister of Serbia Croatia and Serbia elected their first female leaders Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Croatia in 2015, Ana Brnabic in Serbia in 2017).

The cultural environment was changing dramatically, with Slovenia and Croatia returning to a more "central European" world (like before World War I) and Serbia firmly grounded in its Slavic roots. Notable novels of the 21st century include: Svetislav Basara's "Kratkodnevica/ Winter Solstice" (2000), Goran Petrovic's "Sitnicarnica kod Srecne Ruke/ Trifle-shop Lucky hand" (2000) and Mladen Markov's "Ukop Oca/ Father's Burial" (2002) in Serbia; Drago Jancar's "Katarina pav in Jezuit/ Katerina the Peacock and the Jesuit" (2000) in Slovenia, and Dasa Drndic's "Sonnenschein/ Trieste" (2007) and "Belladonna" (2012) in Croatia.

The Bosnian civil war still resonated in films such as: Nicija Zemlja/ No Man's Land (2001), made by Bosnian documentary filmmaker Danis Tanovic with savage humour (so many languages are spoken by the characters that nobody seems to understand the others); Srdan Golubovic's Krugovi/ Circles (2013); Jasmila Zbanic's war movie Quo Vadis Aida? (2020), about the Srebrenica massacre; Bosnian female director Aida Begic's Snijeg/ Snow (2008), about a Bosnian village in which only the women are left alive; and Croatian director Arsen Ostojic's Halimin Put/ Halima's Path (2012), written by Fedia Isovi.

The most significant films tended to be dramas: Profesionalac/ The Professional (2003), directed by Serbian playwright Dusan Kovacevic, an adaptation of his own stage play; Golemata Voda/ The Great Water (2004), by Macedonian director Ivo Trajkov, adaptated from Zhivko Chingo's children's book, and starring more than 250 children; the sexy ghost story Senki/ Shadows (2007), by Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski; Ivan Zivkovic's Hadersfild/ Huddersfield (2007); Metastaze/ Metastases (2009), by Croatian director Branko Schmidt and scripted by Ognjen Svilicic; Stevan Filipovic's brutal Šišanje/ Skinning (2010); Danis Tanovic's drama Epizoda u Zivotu Beraca Zeljeza/ An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (2013), a semi-documentary in which non-professional actors reenacted a real-life event; Tri Dritare dhe Nje Varje/ Three Windows and a Hanging (2014), directed by Isa Qosja, an ethnic Albanian, written by Zymber Kelmendi and photographed by Gokhan Tiryaki; Takva su Pravila/ These Are the Rules (2014), by Croatian director Ognjen Svilicic, perhaps the best performance by Bosnian actor Emir Hadzihafizbegovic; Srdan Golubovic's Otac/ Father (2020); the Kosovar story Zgjoi/ Hive (2021), by female ethnic Albanian director Blerta Basholli; etc.

Somehow the former Yugoslavia also specialized in horrific dramas about women, like Varuh Meje/ Guardian of the Frontier (2002), by the Slovenian female director Maja Weiss, Grbavica (2006), starring Mirjana Karanovic, by the Bosnian female director Jasmila Zbani, a story that starts in a sordid milieu of murder, gambling and prostitution and evokes mass torture and rape, and Fine Mrtve Djevojke/ Fine Dead Girls (2002) and Majka Asfalta/ Mother of Asphalt (2010) by the Croatian director Dalibor Matanic.

An oddity that harked back to Makavejev was Srdjan Spasojevic's repulsive porn-horror movie A Serbian Film (2010).

It wasn't the best time for comedy, although Radivoje Andric showed to be a new master of the genre with Munje/ Dudes (2001), scripted by Srdja Andjelic, and Kad Porestem Bicu Kengur/ When I Grow Up I’ll Be A Kangaroo (2004), scripted b Miroslav Momcilovic.

Croatian director Goran Dukic directed the farce Nosila je Rubac Crleni/ Even Pigs Go to Heaven (2022), scripted by Sandra Antolic and photographed by Branko Linta, set in the year 1991 when the Yugoslav civil war broke out and narrated by Jesus on the cross.

Notable in neighboring Albania was Gjergj Xhuvani's satirical retelling of Albania's history which he started with Parullat/ Slogans (2001), adapted from Ylljet Alicka's novel.


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See also the Best Yugoslavian Films of All Time