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04 Mar 13

Belgrade Cinema-Lovers 'Bury' Old Movie Houses

Campaigners angry about the “killing” of the Serbian capital’s old cinemas, which closed after privatisation, built a mock cemetery as a satirical protest.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN Belgrade
Crosses with the names of 14 cinemas, Photo by Marko Radosevic

The campaigners built the 'cemetery', with 14 wooden crosses bearing the names of all the Belgrade cinemas that have shut down as a result of privatisation, in front of the Sava Centar at the end of the international film festival FEST on Sunday night.

Red candles and carnations were also laid on every 'grave' during the symbolic protest.

Members of a Belgrade group called Cinemas: The Return of the Written-Offs staged the protest performance under the slogan: "You saw what you saw. Cinemas are dead."

People leaving the FEST screening of Goran Markovic's movie 'Falsifikator', including the cast of the film and well-known Serbian actor Sergey Trifunovic, stopped to look at the installation and have their photos taken next to the 'grave' of their favourite cinema.

"This is what privatisation brings," a middle-aged man told his wife as they looked at the mock cemetery.

Famous Serbian actor Sergej Trifunovic

Photo by Marko Radosevic

In 2007, businessman Nikola Djivanovic bought Beograd Film, which runs all the 14 cinemas, from the state for 9.2 million euro, which was to be paid in six annual installments.

Since then however, none of the cinemas have opened their doors again.

Activists from Cinemas: Return of the Written-Offs have staged a series of protest performances in the city, complaining that Belgrade's old movie houses are being replaced by multiplex cinemas and that the capital is losing some of its cultural heritage.

In November last year, the group placed a plaque at the entrance to the Balkan cinema with the words: "In memory of the Balkan cinema and all the victims of privatisation of Beograd Film." Other performances have included the laying of wreaths at the Kozara cinema.

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