Call for Submissions

After Yugoslavia

Senses of Cinema is inviting proposals for a dossier on nonfiction film in the territories of former Yugoslavia, scheduled for publication this October in Issue 103. Avenues of inquiry could include, but are not exclusive to: aesthetics and representation (war trauma, positionality, and the ethics of looking), the dynamics of state and international financing or distribution (from festivals to networked platforms and beyond), problems surrounding historicisation (the place of post-Yugoslav film within histories of world cinema and of Eastern Europe in particular), as well as debates around truth, social memory, and alternative facts.

Three decades after the dismantling of Yugoslavia, a pressing question has resurfaced. At a time when new nationalisms are again on the horizon (or already firmly ensconced in power), what tactics do documentary cineastes employ in an effort to fight back? Against the equivocations of historical revisionism, how might nonfiction be energised in a struggle for justice, emancipation, and equality? With what formal means are artists and film workers tethering themselves to an aesthetic of truth? And why, most pointedly, are some of the most electrifying endeavors in this respect coming from the ex-socialist Balkans? Filmmakers such as Nika Autor, Selma Doborac, Ognjen Glavonić, Jelena Maksimović, and Želimir Žilnik have all intervened into this narrative in important ways; observational images, cinéma vérité, newsreel reporting, re-enactment, essayism, and (unscripted) fictionalisation are only a few forms and formats that post-1991 documentarists in the region are activating with force. 

In an area where ideological mystification has never relinquished its deadly grip, documentary images play a privileged role, tasked and entrusted as they are with offering adequate, just depictions of our world. It is the hypothesis of this dossier that the spaces of former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia) offer fertile ground for 21st-century cinema studies. Precisely due to their experiences with virulent ethnonationalism and an assortment of obfuscatory political techniques, ex-socialist filmmakers and artists have offered viewers of contemporary nonfiction much to think through. Fiction, fabulation, fabrication, as well as the interstices of fact, (post-)truth, and extrafilmic reality are precisely the thorny issues that today’s documentary landscape is engaged in; they are also issues that ex-Yugoslavia has had on its mind for years. To elaborate and try to understand documentary after Yugoslavia within an historical, transnational scope: that is the aim and objective of this dossier.

We are not expecting or accepting completed works at this stage. Due to the amount of proposals we receive, we kindly ask that you only submit finished pieces at our invitation. If you would like to contribute to this dossier, please email guest editor Nace Zavrl at zavrl@g.harvard.edu with a 250-word abstract that succinctly states: a suggested title, what your article will be about, the argument or perspective you plan to take, why your piece will be of interest to the Senses readership, and links to or attachments of any previously published work you have written. This call for contributions is to be taken broadly and expansively; a wide breadth of potential approaches, subjects, and areas of interest will be taken into consideration.

The deadline for proposals is July 15, 2022, with notifications of acceptance sent out by late July. Commissioned works will need to be delivered to the editor by September 1, 2022. Our desired word count is between 1000 and 3000 words; contributions will have to adhere to our Style Guide. Additionally, Senses of Cinema is a labour of love, which means we do not have the funds to pay contributors. Please note that by submitting a proposal for consideration you agree to the terms and conditions set out in our Writers’ Agreement.

Those Shocking Shaking Days