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Želimir Žilnik

Želimir Žilnik
File:Zzilnik 2008jul.jpg
Born (1942-09-08) September 8, 1942 (age 73)
Niš, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Occupation Film director, screenwriter
Years active 1968-present

Želimir Žilnik (Cyrillic: Желимир Жилник; pronounced [ʒɛ̌limiːr ʒîlniːk]) is a Serbian film director and one of the major figures of the Yugoslav Black Wave. He is noted for his socially engaging style and criticism of censorship that was commonplace during the Yugoslav communist era. Subsequently, following the abolition of communist one-party system, he was an outspoken critic of Slobodan Milošević-led regime in Serbia.

Early life

Želimir was born in the Nazi-run Crveni Krst concentration camp in September 1942 where his Serbian communist activist mother Milica "Maša" Šuvaković was imprisoned by Germans since early 1942. On 2 December 1942 there was a prison break in the camp as a group of prisoners managed to escape, and as a response - the Germans executed a number of remaining prisoners including Maša Šuvaković. Days before his mother was executed, 3-month-old Želimir was taken out of the prison and given to her parents. Young Želimir was thus raised by his maternal grandparents.

His father was a Slovene communist activist and Partisan fighter Konrad "Slobodan" Žilnik who got severely wounded and taken prisoner in March 1944 during a battle against Chetniks. Chetniks tortured him and eventually executed him couple of days later. Posthumously, he was awarded the People's Hero gallantry medal.


He won his first awards, a Golden Berlin Bear and a Youth Film Award at the 19th Berlin International Film Festival in 1969 for his feature film Rani radovi[1] (Early Works) which depicted the aftermath of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

During the early 1970s he was criticized and his works were quite often banned due their[2] portrayal of student demonstrations and their advocacy of freedom of media and speech. Between 1973 and 1976 he found work for several independent German production companies. In conjunction with these companies he directed two documentaries dealing with anarcho-terrorism; Öffentliche Hinrichtung[3] and Paradies.[4] In Yugoslavia he found work in theatre production but returned to his previous work with documentaries.

In the 1980s his works began to garner more attention and were successfully presented on several television networks and at local and international festivals. In 1985 he made Pretty Women Walking Through the City which predicted that nationalistic tensions will cause the disintegration of Yugoslavia. His 1988 his black comedy Tako se kalio čelik[5] (The Way Steel Was Tempered) was nominated for the Golden St. George award at the 16th Moscow International Film Festival in the Soviet Union.[6]

In 1994 he wrote and directed Tito's Second Time Among the Serbs, and helped initiate one of Serbia's independent media outlets, b92 in Belgrade. His 1995 feature film Marble Ass was a look at the myth built around the masculinity of the male as a warrior and leader. It was entered into the 19th Moscow International Film Festival.[7]

Recently he has directed several documentaries dealing with the commonality of the Central and Eastern Europe and the problems with immigration to and from Europe[8] with the same style and narrative that had gained him recognition for many years.

Selected filmography

  • Jedna žena, jedan vek (2011)
  • Stara škola kapitalizma (The Old School of Capitalism) (2009)
  • Kenedi se ženi (Kenedi is Getting Married) (2007)
  • Gde je bio Kenedi 2 godine (Kenedi, Lost and Found) (2005)
  • Kenedi se vraca kuci (Kenedi Goes Back Home) (2003)
  • Tvrdjava Evropa (Fortress Europe) (2001)
  • Kud plovi ovaj brod (Wanderlust) (1999)
  • Marble Ass (Marble Ass) (1995)
  • Tito po drugi put medju Srbima (Tito Among the Serbs for the Second Time) (1993)
  • Tako se kalio čelik (The way Steel was Tempered) (1988)
  • Abschied (Farewell) (1976)
  • Paradies (Paradise) (1976)
  • Rani radovi (Early Works) (1969)

See also


External links

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