Bitef, Yugoslav Film Archive, Trezor RTS and Embassy of Poland in Belgrade


Yugoslav Film Archive, Kosovska 11

Editor Bitef on Film: Vera Konjović

What kind of a programme envelops and brings closer to us half a century of a festival, a mirror of the theatre art in the latter half of the 20th  and the beginning of the 21st century, at a time of vertiginous changes of taste, sensitivity, style, thinking, at a time when television, computers, video, DVD, mobile telephones, cameras appeared, developed and improved… and when owing to new technologies one could effortlessly save everything as a keepsake and information of generations to come?

I picked up Bitef catalogues (I have them all except one) and my voluminous documentation about Bitef on film.  Several days went by as i leafed through them: titles, theatre productions, films, articles, facts. They bring back to memory performances, people, events. The 40th Bitef on Film within the 50th Bitef will be easy to put together. The list of titles is long and impressive.

And then… news from Russia that Hamlet directed by Liubimov was never put on tape; people around Efros claim that Don Juan was recorded only by television in Belgrade. The tape is missing. In Poland there is a private recording of Grotowski’s Constant Prince and it is unavailable. Peter Brook’s Midsummer Night’s Dream was recorded when on tour in Japan but Brook had to destroy it at the Japanese request. The only recording of Ljubiša Ristić’s Hamlet was lent and never returned. There is no answer to numerous letters with invitation to participate in Bitef on film; there are copyright fees for most of the recordings and in Serbia culture gets 0.62% of the budget.

And as I struggle, wonder and despair, I willy-nilly return to the past, to people I worked with, cooperated with. Suddenly it dawns on me that I who has been working for Bitef without a break almost from the beginning, that I have remained alone, that all of its main players are gone. Gone are those who, sometimes more and sometimes less, contributed to the assertion, survival and greatness of the event. Without them, the festival would never be what it was, what it is and what, fingers crossed,  it will be.

The personality of Mira Trailović stands out. I think about Mira, the individual who was more than the chief person when Bitef was founded; she invested the event with smell and taste, purpose and significance. Without her energy and skill I doubt that Bitef would ever come into being and acquire the world fame as it once did. We loved her, gossiped about her, enjoyed hearing anecdotes about her and one never tells anecdotes about an average, ordinary individual.

Vera Konjović

September 30th , 16:00


Editor: Feliks Pašić

Moderator: Boro Drašković

Culture Editorial Board, TV Belgrade

Guests: Ljubiša Ristić, director; Petar Božović, actor; Branislav Milošević, Komunist theatre critic; Michael Coveney, theatre critic, United Kingdom

Insert from the production of Hamlet, HNK, Split

Duration: 25’

Shakespeare’s Hamlet has always been a challenge for theatre and even film directors. Some presented it in a classical manner (whatever that means), others looked for and found in it modern subjects and modern forms. How is one to play a classic? Heated discussions were and are going on.

One of such productions, one of such Hamlets is the one which was shown in 1980, the year when Tito died and aggression against Afghanistan happened. Hence the outstanding importance of the death of the king, Hamlet’s father and Fortinbras’s (Petar Božović) invasion of Denmark in the production.

In the first Chronicle of Bitef the renowned critic Michael Coveney spoke about how one should, how one might or might not present Hamlet or any other theatre piece.

Ljubiša Ristić’s production of Hamlet at the opening of the 14th Bitef was broadcasted live by television. The recording has not been preserved and the private tape is lost.



Recording of the performance

Author: William Shakespeare

Director and set designer: Ljubiša Ristić

Cast: Boris Isaković, Aleksandar Krstajić, Sanja Moravčić, Filip Lenđel, Tihomir Vujičić, Ferenc Peter, Luka Piljagić, Ramadan Azirović, Zoltan Molnar, Marija Opsenica, Ana  Kostovska, Tanja Žerajić, Erika Lenđel, Ljiljana Jakšić

Production: KPGT, Subotica

Recording: TV Novi Sad, 1992.

(Grand Prix 26th Bitef 92)

Duration: 60’

“The production is made of polyphonic questions. Ljubiša Ristić did not want to talk only about the horrors of a mindless struggle for power or the mental aspects of malice: he discovered in Richard a metaphysical tragic hero, one who has suffered all his life and accepts malice as a form of freedom. He won it when he achieved malice as a goal per se.”, Catalogue, 26th Bitef



Recording of the production

Author and Director: Tadeusz Kantor

Cast: Maria Strangret-Kantor, Celina Neđwiecka, Andrzej Welminski, Zbignew Gostomski, Mira Rihlicka, Roman Sivulak, Waclaw Janicki

Production: Teatar Cricot 2, Krakow, Poland

Premiere of the first version November 15th  1975. Second version: 1977.

(Grand Prix 11th BITEF 1977)

Film director: Andzej Wajda

Producer: Zespół Filmowy X, 1976

Shown Bitef on Film 1977

Duration: 80’

Tadeusz Kantor is considered one of the most important innovators; he was an artist who exercised tremendous influence on the 20th century theatre. There are three versions of Kantor’s Dead Class. Wajda filmed the first version which few people outside Poland ever saw; Belgrade and many other cities around the world saw the second version.

“I create reality, a wreath of different realities,  which has nothing to do with logic or acted drama, I create fields of tension which will be able to break the narrative structure of a drama. I do it all in an atmosphere of shock and scandal.”,  Kantor said in an interview.

Andrzej Wajda participated in 10th Bitef with Stanislawa Przybyszewska’s The Danton Case and in 21st Bitef with Dostoevski’s Crime and Punishment. Of The Dead Class he said: „This is the only production I saw five times. It impressed me to such an extent that I decided to make it as a film. And I never make films of my theatre directions.”




Script writer and interviewer: Feliks Pašić

Editor: Lila Lukić

Director: Nenad Momčilović

Production: TV Belgrade, Culture Programme Editorial Board

Recorded in December 1988.

Duration: 42’

The interview took place at the Bitef Direction Office on Terazije, on the foundations of the new Atelje 212, the famous coffee-shop of that theatre and in the building of the future Bitef Theatre, among scaffoldings and workers. This is also the last big interview for television because Mira did appear next year at the opening of Bitef Theatre, but then the disease took hold. The interview ends with Mira’s words: “I think I was always pointed the way by some traits of my personality, we could call them positive – because I believe that there are many of those which are not – I mean tenacity and optimism in tenacity. I don’t like leaving unfinished business, I don’t like renouncing real possibilities that exist and I’ve always tried to preserve loyalty under those circumstances because the success one achieves does not give us joy without loyalty.”



Recording of the performance

Direction/Choreography: Sasha Waltz

Music: Hans Peter Kuhn

Recording: Jörg Jeshel, Brigitte Kramer

Dancers: Davide Camplani, Nadia Kusimano, Lisa Dansem, Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola, Luc Dunberry…

Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin, Germany

Grand Prix 34BITEF00

Running Time: 59’

Sasha Waltz was born in Karlsruhe, in 1968. In 1993, she founded her dance company Sasha Waltz&Guests, together with her husband Jochen Sandig. In 1999, she became a member of the artistic board of Schaubühne, where she created her choreography Bodies which placed body in

the centre of attention. Her aim was to visually present human body, its outside and inside. The rehearsals were brimming with questions: What is body? What does it consist of? Body is an entity but it is separable into pieces. She tackled the issues of human mortality, wish for immortality,

the power of reproduction in times of genetic manipulation. Human bodies, space and sound are

the three pillars of her direction.



Recording of the production

Author: Maxim Gorky

Direction and set design: Georgy Aleksandrovich Tovstonogov

Cast: Evgeny Lebedev, Mariya Sokolova, Ema Popova, Oleg Borisov, Kiril Lavrov

Production: Gorky Great Drama Theatre, Leningrad, 1966

Television recording : Lenfilm, 1972, USSR

(Grand Prix  2nd  BITEF 1968)

Duration: 14’

Tovstonogov wrote that theatre of the absurd encouraged him to direct this play. Beckett and Ionesco helped to see a new thing in an old play – absurdity and senselessness of life of its heroes and closed circles they wander about in. In The Philistines there is also room for Brecht’s ideas: “Productions should not show an individual but life phenomena. To preserve the distance”, the director wrote, “One component of the production must take the spectator back to the point of departure and make him look at it all from aside.” In this case the component is music. Balalaika or mandolin with a simple melody of a ‘cruel’ romance or an air from the urban periphery penetrate the action unexpectedly, enabling the spectator to realise precisely what is going on. Music creates the effect of alienation that Brecht writes about.

To the question why he opted for the old rather than the new philistines asked at the round table, the director answered: “I did not opt for either, but it is more dangerous to opt for the young because the future belongs to them.”