In July 1999, filmmaker Jeff Daniel Silva was the first US citizen to visit the former Yugoslavia just weeks after NATO’s bombing campaign, aimed at the government of Slobodan Milošević. Silva’s encounters with ordinary citizens in the wake of the violence—particularly those caught between a government they detested and NATO warplanes that didn’t distinguish between civilian and military life—sparked the making of Balkan Rhapsodies. Silva returned to the region two more times over the next five years, weaving footage he shot there into a challenging, moving and funny documentary.
Silva is an emerging filmmaker who over the last ten years has developed a diverse body of work based in experimental and non-fiction film, from multi-channel installations to short films and documentaries that have screened internationally. Based in Boston, he teaches at Harvard and Emerson. Besides discussing Balkan Rhapsodies, Silva will also present footage from a work-in-process.
Special Event Tickets $10
Monday October 20 at 7pm
Directed by Jeff Daniel Silva, Appearing in Person
With Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn
US 2008, video, color, 55 min.
Balkan Rhapsodies uses the 78 days of NATO bombings of the former Yugoslavia (March 24 – June 10, 1999) as a structuring device by breaking footage from Silva’s travels into a string of numbered fragments, held together by the filmmaker’s abundantly evident engagement, anger, humor, affection and curiosity. Webster’s Dictionary defines “rhapsody” as, variously, “a musical composition irregular in form and suggestive of improvisation,” “an epic poem,” and “an unusually intense, emotional…work.” Inspired by rhapsodic form—as well as a penchant for Serbia’s potent national drink—Silva’s documentary lives up to all three definitions at once, as it incorporates video material shot over eight years (in the Balkans and during informal interactions with American political luminaries Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn) with archival footage, re-enactments and cultural appropriations. Balkan Rhapsodies deftly navigates an alternately serious and humorous landscape that captures the essence of a post-traumatic historical moment in the Balkans, and the precarious situation of a young generation of Serbs and Albanians ensnared in a country governed by a vicious ruler.