In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Cinema

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Works
  • Early Yugoslav Cinema
  • Yugoslav World War II–Themed/“Red Wave”/Partisan Films
  • Late Socialist Cinema and the Prague School

Cinema and Media Studies Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Cinema
Dijana Jelača
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 March 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 March 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0188


This bibliographical collection offers a selection of works that reflect both the major historical developments in Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Cinema, as well as some of the central themes that have dominated the robust body of scholarly work on this particular cinematic tradition. Yugoslav cinema was in its nascent form in the early parts of the 20th century (in what was then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) and received its most ambitious development during the socialist period after the end of World War II. Throughout the length of Yugoslavia’s existence, its film industry saw the development of several endemic cinematic styles and trends: from the World War II epics to Yugoslav New Film and its radical strain, the Black Wave, to a rich tradition of socially engaged documentary filmmaking, to Animated Film, to radical avant-garde and neo avant-garde cinema—as discussed in Levi 2012 and Daković 2003 (cited under Yugoslav Experimental and Avant-Garde Cinema)—to late socialism’s cinema, whose emphasis was on the personal as covertly political. Some of the Yugoslav era’s most notable and internationally recognized filmmakers include Dušan Makavejev, Živojin Pavlović, Puriša Đorđević, Aleksandar Petrović, Želimir Žilnik, Krsto Papić, and Emir Kusturica. The post-Yugoslav period saw the dispersal of the formerly transethnic film industry into smaller ethno-national cinemas whose gaze largely turned to the exploration of ethno-nationalism and war, as well as to the question of memory and identity in the aftermath of the devastating wars that precipitated the emergence of new nation-states in the wake of Yugoslavia’s demise. Some of the most notable post-Yugoslav filmmakers include Danis Tanović, Aida Begić, and Jasmila Žbanić (Bosnia-Herzegovina); Dalibor Matanić, Branko Schmidt, and Anton Arsen Ostojić (Croatia); Milcho Manchevski and Teona Strugar Mitevska (Macedonia); Srđan Dragojević (Serbia); Maja Weiss (Slovenia); and Isa Qosja and Arben Kastrati (Kosovo). While this article treats films made during the Yugoslav period as strictly Yugoslav rather than as belonging to separate ethno-national spaces that have emerged since the end of Yugoslavia, the latter sections examine some of the controversies over the ownership of Yugoslav cinema in light of the country’s breakup, as well as a recent scholarly emphasis on ethnocentric interpretations of post-Yugoslav filmmaking, often at the expense of a more trans-ethno-national view. For biographical sources that came out during Yugoslavia’s existence and that are written in the local language, this article uses the then-standard term Serbo-Croatian. For post-Yugoslav bibliographical sources in the same language, the bibliography uses the currently preferred term BCS (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian).

General Overviews

The cinema of Yugoslavia emerged in unison with the country itself, early in the 20th century (at the time of the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia, 1918–1945) and received its most ambitious development as an industry after World War II, during the socialist period (which lasted until Yugoslavia’s demise in 1991). Several book-length studies exist about Yugoslav cinema, including the influential Goulding 2002. Levi 2007 offers a detailed and insightful analysis of various ideological interpellations of Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Cinema, while Iordanova 2001 situates regional cinema within the context of a historical analysis of media and its use in a larger sense. Volk 1986 (in Serbo-Croatian) represents the most exhaustive account of Yugoslav film’s early history, as Volk includes the pre–World War II period in his anthology, and uncovers the vibrant world of the country’s film culture long before its most visible expansion during socialism.

  • Goulding, Daniel J. Liberated Cinema: The Yugoslav Experience, 1945–2001. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

    First published in 1985, this is a revised and expanded edition that includes the post-Yugoslav period. A detailed history of Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav narrative cinema (up to 2001), the monograph offers an insightful account of the development of Yugoslavia’s film industry in the aftermath of World War II, as well as its fragmentation with the emergence of Yugoslav successor states in the 1990s. The book considers how post-Yugoslav national cinemas relate to their shared socialist legacies and offers a sociocultural analysis of some of the most significant Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav films.

  • Iordanova, Dina. Cinema of Flames: Balkan Film, Culture and the Media. London: British Film Institute, 2001.

    An insightful analysis of Balkan film, media, and culture in the context of Yugoslavia’s end. One of the book’s main themes is the externally perceived image—as well as the self-image—of the Balkans as a violent territory.

  • Levi, Pavle. Disintegration in Frames: Aesthetics and Ideology in the Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Cinema. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.

    A historically grounded analysis of the ideological impact of Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav cinema, rooted in the contexts of the emergence of the films. One of the central concerns of Levi’s influential monograph is the question of how the ideology of multicultural “brotherhood and unity” that haunted Yugoslav cinema was violently replaced by rampant ethno-nationalisms in the post-Yugoslav period.

  • Volk, Petar. Istorija jugoslovenskog filma. Belgrade, Yugoslavia: Institut za Film, 1986.

    This pioneering work offers a vast anthology of Yugoslav cinema and film culture ranging from the early 20th century to the 1970s, covering narrative cinema as well as avant-garde and documentary filmmaking. In Serbo-Croatian, includes a summary in English.

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