Srbenka (2018) gives an insight to the current life and war memories among the Serbian minority in Croatia. The film is a skilful metatheatre that involves both the troupe’s acting and sense of self as they work on their own memories.
Some have said that the reputed Croatian theatre director Oliver Frljić stirs up drama wherever he goes. He himself has made it clear on several occasions that for him, the theatre is much less a goal than it is a means of social struggle.
His plays are always attuned to the traumas and anomalies of the historical, geographical and political space from where he originates, and he has been awarded multiple times for his plays.
Srbenka, the documentary film by Nebojša Slijepčević, is based on one of Frljić’s plays – the struggle is that of a Serbian minority against the Croatian nationalist sentiment.
A struggle of identities
The Serbian identity-struggle within Croatia was mobilised during the war in the nineties and has later translated into a political ideology lasting well beyond the war itself. In the nineties, the prevailing belief of many people in Croatia (similarly as in the neighbouring Slovenia) was that a liberal society could only be established by seceding from Yugoslavia. These ideas held that being «communist» tended to conflate with «Serbian». As a consequence, a break with the communist past depended upon severing the ties with Serbia.
«Aleksandra Zec – together with her family – was lynched and then shot and dumped at a landfill in Zagreb in 1991.»
In the creation of the new Croatian nation, and in order to facilitate measures for military preparedness and the conduct of a war, the government – as have the governments of other ex-Yugoslavian states –sought to manipulate public sentiment. This was done by generating symbolic representations idealising both citizens and combatants, by demonising the enemy, and constructing contrasting images of the future that dealt with that of victory and defeat. The importance of «winning the war» became essential.