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September 26, 1978 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-26

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, September 26, 1978-Page

A renaissance o

Even for a person known for unusual
tastes, my assertion that one of my
favorite films is WR: Mysteries of the
Organism, by a Yugoslavian named
Dusan Makavejev, always gets more
than its share of confused looks. No
doubt the fact that I still can't pronoun-
ce the filmmaker's name detracts from
the credibility of my story.
Still, I've never seen another film
that" explored the interrelationship of
politics and sexuality with such depth
and humor as WR. Even Makavejev's
Sweet Movie, which explored the same
theme, wasn't as, satisfying and en-
joyable. It came disturbingly close to
falling prey to the sexual exploitation
that it was 'trying to lampoon. Still, it
was far above the average European,
film and certainly far,, far above al-.
most all American films.
I THEREFORE came to the
Yugoslavian Film Festival that ran in-
termittently from September 15-24 with
high hopes. I expected to see more films
in the same style as WR and Sweet
Movie - extremely political and
What I found was nothing of the sort.
Not to imply that I came-away disap-
pointed. The films were a diverse group
- from light comedies to the most
unrelenting tragedies, from deeply
Yugoslavian to the most universal
themes, from the traditional to the
modern socialist point of view - each
of which attained an almost un-
believable level of excellence.
The cinematography and
camerawork were the most outstanding
festures of most of the films. In many of
them, such as I Even Met Happy Gyp-
sies, each scene was so perfect that it
could have been the work of a
Renaissance master. The faces seemed
to glow with a light of their own. The
""% * * FT"

background' was always unobtrusive,
but profoundly affected the mood of
each moment.
The most excellent example of this
was Beasts, a somewhat surreal film
about a group of people living on an
island besieged by darkness and almost
,constant rain. They do not know how
they have come to be on the island, nor
where the island is. They live in unin-
terrupted fear and anxiety - and
darkness. Even indoors, the candlelight
seems obscured by the darkness
threatening to flood in.
OUTSIDE, THE only light is provided
by an occasional streetlamp or window
and its reflections off the wet cob-

by the film could have just as easily and imaginative cinema. Th
been directed at the American system. of the films in the festival ar
None of the films came close to being as last two years, and as such,
adventurous as either of Makavejev's, the level of progress they h
both of which satirized so many in- toward their goal.
stitutions and systems that it was at ALTHOUGH we don'ts
times difficult to tell where the direc- coverage of their political s:
tor's real sympathies lay. Yugoslavian directors are n
A LOT OF the differences in the style willing to expose the social p
of the films could be due to their respec- their country. There are
tive periods of time. In the forties and themes of the struggle betwe
fifties, the government's doctrine of socialist and traditional thi
"national realism" controlled the the spread of industrializ
theme of each film. A moral in line with materialism through the cou
official doctrine was demanded, and If these films are any me
the treatment of present-day social major problem in Yugosla
problems was strictly taboo. The rift must be the number of menw


e majority
e from the
, represent
have made
see much
ystem, the
much more
roblems of
en modern
nking, and
ation and
easure, the
via today
Nho have to

find work in foreign countries, such as
Germany and Sweden. In the most
brutal rendition of this problem, Don't
Lean Out, the worker's place in these
foreign countries is one of alienation -
from their families and fellow workers.
All of the Yugoslavians in Germany
are seen as either dead or dying, com-
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -
Five women have qualified as the first
instructors in the South African Air
The women completed the same
courses as the men and stood their
ground in fitness drills, the obstacle
course, marches and the classroom,
where they scored more than 80 percent
in the written examination.
A representative from
the Financial Aid Office
will provide counseling for
graduate students re-
garding loans and
work-study programs.
Meetings will take place
every other Wednesday from
9 A.M. to 12 Noon begin-
ning September 27.
For appoinfment, please
call 764-2218.

Cane uoreground), a police officer, offers the only alternative to Peter's
institutional life in "Special Education," one of the films featured in the
Yugoslavian Film Festival, sponsored by the Ann Arbor Film Co-op. The
festival ran from September 15-24.

blestone streets. The faces of the char-
acters are almost solely climpses, as
they rush through random pools of
light. And because their clothing is
almost totally black, often the only
thing you see is the warmth of apparen-
tly disembodied faces, seemingly the
characters' last stronghold against the
ominous gloom.
Unfortunately, the festival films have
not been as daring politically as they
have been cinematically. Only Special
Education could be seen as a direct
political statement. An obvious indic-
tment of the institutional treatment of
social problems, it could also be more
broadly interpreted as an attack on the
regimentation of socialism.
Then again, many of the points made

between Tito and Stalin opened the door
for a wider variety of styles in the mid-
fifties. Tito encouraged the growth and
freedom of artistic movements, while
the Soviets were drawing ever tighter
In the sixties even more advances
were made in the name of art. Direc-
tors addressed themselves to the con-
temporary issues in an increasingly
uncompromising fashion. In this
climate were fostered the films of
During the early seventies, though, a
swing back toward the less humanistic
'side of Marxist philosophy led many of
the leading directors, including
Makavejev, to a fall from favor. Since
that time, the Yugoslavian directors
have been struggling back to an honest

i 7 i -- -

ciemrni: i aient

but no pizazz

A lazy Sunday afternoon was an espe-
cially appropriate time to hear a San-
dor and Laszlo Slomovitz concert. The
twin brithers, performing as Thee
Gemini, present as extremely accom-'
plished folk music act with a repertoire
of traditional songs and fiddle tunes
from America, the British Isles, Hun-
gary, Israel, and South America.
Their weekend concert at the Pendle-
ton room in the Union was very warm'
and low key, a pleasant interlude in the
day, but the overall lack of electricity
generated by the brothers left the edge
off what could have been an absorbing
WHEN THEY both picked up guitars
to play one of their own classical soun-
ding instrumentals, the large crowd
was transfixed by the intricate inter-
play of the two six strings. During a
series of South American melodies each
brother had a pan pipe, and together
they were able to play a scale only by
alternating back and forth. The tune
they proceeded to play was marked by#
dizzying trade-offs to complete the
melodic line, and, as if that weren't
enough, Sandor provided the per-
cussion on a drum-like object suspen-
ded in front of him.'
Earlier, Laszlo provided the classical
pennywhistle melody while Sandor
knocked out the 'rhythm on an inter-
national percussion instrument called
the bones. The player holds four
wooden slats, shaped like spare ribs,
between the fingers, two in each hand,
and waves his arms in the air to get the
'clacking sound which is reminiscent of
the sound one gets when knocking soup
spoons together on the thigh as they do
in Appalachia. "There's no connection
to the spoons except in sound," ex-
plained Sandor later. "One, bone is
stationary and the other moves to slap
against it."
SLOMOVITZ explained that he is
learning the bones from a 78-year-old
Ann Arborite, Percy Danforth, the man
'who has revived local interest in bones.
"It's a very dated musical effect," says
Sandor. "In fact, there are references
to bones in Shakespeare."
As if to authenticate the instrument's
name, the then pulled forth "two or-
dinary spare ribs" which he had in his
kit and demonstrated that they worked
ac wai.tll ne th mnrp~ a',zwu umnniien

possible, they taught the chorus to the
audience and had them join in, which is
always appreciated by Ann Arbor folk
AFTER THE first couple of numbers
it was hard to figure out why the
Slomovitz' aren't at the top of the folk
music industry, such as it is. It's a rare
weekend that an act with such superior
musical ability graces the Ark, a local
showcase for national folk musicians.
The problem is basically that their
act isn't dynamic enough to slake the
public's thirst for entertainment. The
two musicians are so personable, low
keyed, and sweet that the warmth tends
to cloy. The folk tradition is filled with
ironic and witty bards who manage to
hold the audience spellbound even when
not thrashing their instruments. Let no
one suggest that Gemini need resurrect
the Smothers Brothers, but there will
be no fires lit under the public's feet un-

til the act gets a little more snappy.
IT'S NOT CLEAR, though, that the
twins are especially anxious to make
themselves national celebrities. It's
true they "do this for a living," but
Laszlo claims they're very happy with
the way things are and with the current
growth of their popularity.
"We played at the Fox Hollow Folk
Festival in Petersburg, New York, and
from that date we've had a lot of in-
vitations to play at clubs and cof-
feehouses out east." The immigrant
Hungarian brothers have been slowly
widening their following, and hope to
cut a record soon.
Laszlo realizes that there are limits
to how far a group can go in traditional
music, but his attitude is typical of the
generous and sincere artists who
populate this musical genre: "We play
it and people like to listen to it. Who can
know the future after that?"a

The University of Michigan
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