MS: Až přijde válka is an example for nationalism, for the conservative backlash that one can observe on a global scale. Many of the films in our programme show the effects of this way of thinking and what the shift means for women, queer folk and individuals who refuse to conform to the norm in general.
The rise of the right is linked to the decline of the left. Is Hotel Jugoslavija a film that deals with this decline?
MS: The film’s director, Nicolas Wagnières, was born and raised in Switzerland. His mother is originally from Serbia, which means he spent a lot of time there in his childhood. The hotel that gives the film its name, Hotel Jugoslavija, stands for the time before the fall of the Iron Curtain, but it was also used during the civil war and thus becomes a symbol for the changing political eras. Wagnières uses archival footage and voice-overs for a focussed and highly personal reflection on the demise of Yugoslavia.
PL: In interviews, members of the hotel staff talk about the past, but also about the present. They are witnesses to societal and political change. Every now and then, one can sense a certain nostalgia, a longing for that old collective feeling before the hotel was privatised. With the coming of capitalism and civil war, humanity got lost in the shuffle. Under the impression of the decline of the left, the “good old days” quickly become romanticised ¬– this theme can also be found in Je vois rouge (I See Red People), in which the filmmaker Bojina Panayotova questions her parents about their Bulgarian roots. All the way up to the age of 30, Panayotova thought that communism delivered the Utopia it promised and that her childhood in Bulgaria was a beautiful one. When she begins to challenge this belief, she experiences extreme conflict with her parents and the truth about their past comes to light. In both films, the look back occasionally concentrates the energy and prevents any action in the present. Even though looking at the past is of course the prerequisite for looking into the future, as well as being a question of identity, it can also have an inhibiting effect.