This was the first time that Ivan Medenica has appeared on stage at the opening as the festival’s artistic director. He pointed out that the reason is that the Bitef-Prologue was realized using Bitef’s infrastructural capacities and own human resources, and that one of the biggest ones is Vera Konjović, who officially opened the Bitef-Prologue. Bitef-Prologue is a sample and announcement of what Bitef was supposed to be and what the combined 54th and 55th editions will be. Medenica pointed out that a type of agora has been created in Mira Trailović Square - an open stage where key institutions of urban life have come together since antiquity. “This is where the market is, this is where the church is, the school is around the corner - and not just any school - a ballet school. This is why we have decided to build this agora and restore the theatre to its purpose - a place for reexamining society and exchange.”
Vera Konjović, editor of what was once the Bitef on Film side program, author of the book Waiting for BITEF, and head of the Bitef translation team, officially opened Bitef-Prologue. Vera reminded us of the difficult times that Bitef has faced throughout its history, and the efforts to continue it despite everything, and she dedicated it to Mira Trailović and Jovan Ćirilov, and everyone who stood behind them. Mrs. Konjović opened Bitef-Prologue with the words “But let us dedicate it also to those who in difficult times managed to organize this year’s Bitef, and intend to do so in the future - despite everything and everyone.”
As part of the main program, Uncanny Valley play, directed by Stefan Kaegi, a coproduction of the Rimini Protokoll and the Munich Kammerspiele theatre companies, was performed. This lecture-performance is centered around a humanoid robot, a replica of author Thomas Melle, who due to bipolar disorder has a fear of public speaking, which is why the replica replaces him. At the same time the audience on the outdoor Bitef stage enjoyed the screening of the play, as well as the Meeting the Authors, hosted by Minja Bogavac, with play director Stefan Kaegi. The director did not attend the discussion in person, but rather was on a video call from Bonn that was screened on the Bitef stage. With the aim of democratizing Bitef, viewers from around the country could watch exclusively a recording on the RTS 2, thanks to the traditional cooperation between the festival and its media sponsor, the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS), while audiences around the world could watch the program live on the Bitef Festival YouTube channel, with the exception of the Uncanny Valley play, whose performances tomorrow will be broadcast on the Bitef YouTube channel.
The ceremony was attended by, among others, German Ambassador Thomas Schieb, Cultural Attaché with the Embassy of France in Belgrade Catherine Faudry, EC Delegation Head of Information, Communication and Press Paul-Henri Presset, Goethe Institute Belgrade director Frank Baumann, and City of Belgrade Secretary for Culture Ivan Karl, Executive Director of the Open Society Foundations Milan Antonijević, Director of Sterijino Pozorje Miki Radonjić, and Erste Bank a.d. Novi Sad Head of Marketing and Communication Aleksandra Kosanović Strižak, as well as numerous members of the media.
Today at Bitef
The second day of Prologue, Sunday, September 13, we will see three more performances of Uncanny Valley at Bitef Theatre. At the same time, the play will be screened at the Bitef open-air stage and on the Bitef Festival YouTube channel. As part of the side program on the Bitef open-air stage, audiences will be able to see a presentation of the Polyphony program, as well as another edition of Philosophical Theatre, within which Maja Pelević will speak to Svetlana Slapšak, a Ljubljana-based theorist and activist. The entire program will be streamed live on the Bitef Festival YouTube channel.
Bitef-Prologue will be realized with strict implementation of health measures, measuring temperature, compulsory masks and maintaining physical distance. For detailed instructions click here.
The Festival has been traditionally supported by the City of Belgrade Secretariat for Culture, the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, and the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the Delegation of the EU in Serbia, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Belgrade, the Goethe Institute, the Embassy of Switzerland in Serbia, the French Institute in Belgrade, and the Open Society Foundations. Once again, this year the friend and sponsor of Bitef is I&F Group, which includes McCann Belgrade, the Festival’s creative agency. The partners of the festival are Erste Bank a.d. Novi Sad, and the long-standing friends are Coca-Cola HBC Serbia and MTS, Alma Quattro, the Bel Medic General Hospital, the Halo Creative Team, Mezestoran "Dvorište", the "Zaokret" Club, Domaće Kiflice, Muffinstore, Courtyard Belgrade City Centre by Marriot, and the "Ruski Car" restaurant.