From another age

LABOUR: Under Tito's watchful eye, a post-Socialist dream of workers' ownership is put to the capitalist test.

More than 40 years after Tito’s death and decades since the dream of a socialist Yugoslavia finally died, everything and nothing has changed at the ITAS machine tool factory in the provincial Croatian town of Ivanec. A framed portrait of the old communist party boss and Yugoslav president, wearing his trademark spectacles, stares benevolently down over a grey hall full of green-painted lathes and heavy machinery, scuffed benches and workstations, with only pages torn from calendars or girlie mags to compete for his attention.

Factory to the Workers, a film by Srdjan Kovacevic
Factory to the Workers, a film by Srdjan Kovacevic

Anachronisms within anachronisms

The ITAS factory is a scene from another age; a post-war vision of functional workplaces for sturdy workers producing the machinery of proletarian progress. It is an anachronism within an anachronism: when Croatia’s post Yugoslav civil war drive to modernise pushed dodgy schemes for privatisation of state factories in the early ‘noughties’, the workers rebelled and literally kicked out the new management in 2005. Following a major standoff, demonstrations, a court cases, and hunger strike, they won control of the factory in 2007 and set up a workers’ council, management board, and elected managing director. It was, and remains, the only successful example of a workers’ takeover of a factory in post-Socialist Europe.

ITAS, established in the 1960s, was always an exemplar of Yugoslav socialism; once employing 900 workers, the factory was based on self-government, with a democratic system that allowed workers to decide on company policies. Srdjan Kovacevic’s film Factory to the Workers – produced by Fade In, a Croatian collective dedicated to making social issue documentaries – is character driven, allowing the workers to speak for themselves with barely any exposition or explanation, apart from the very basics of the background to how the workers took control of their destiny.

Tightly shot with barely a glimpse beyond the factory floor or technical management offices, greys (walls and floors), greens (lathes and machines), and blues (the worker’s overalls) dominate . . .

- Advertisement -

Dear reader. To continue reading, please create your free account with your email,
or login if you have registered already. (click forgotten password, if not in an email from us).
A subscription is only 9€ 🙂

What about a subscription, for full access and 2-3 print copies in your mail a year?
(Modern Times Review is a non-profit organisation, and really appreciate such support from our readers.) 

Nick Holdsworth
Our regular critic. Journalist, writer, author. Works mostly from Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.

Industry news

Celebrated Chilean production companies land in La Rochelle for 2022's Sunny Side of the DocSunny Side of the Doc, the European market dedicated to non-fiction, annually receives productions from all over the world,...
DOK Leipzig to shift focus back to in-person festival formatsDOK Leipzig will host its 65th edition in local cinemas and venues from 17 to 23 October 2022. Turning...
B2B Doc moves flagship Pitch Lab to Krakow; presents 13 new documentary projectsDue to the full-scale Russian invasion of #Ukraine, the 2022 edition of the Baltic to Black Sea Documentary Network...
NEOLIBERALISM: Breaking the Brick (dir: Carola Fuentes, …)Breaking The Brick plucks us into the heat of Chile's social unrest, reliving the Chicago Boys' contentious legacy.
UKRAINE: One Day in Ukraine (dir: Volodymyr Tykhyy)A glimpse of the war as experienced by Ukrainians every day since Russian forces invaded on February 24, 2022.
ISRAEL: H2: The Occupation Lab (dir: Idit Avrahami, …)The story of the eastern side of Hebron, a microcosm of a conflict and a test site for control throughout the West Bank.
ABUSE: Look What You Made Me Do (dir: Coco Schrijber)Three survivors of domestic violence who have murdered their abusers are given a chance to tell their stories.
POLITICS: My Imaginary Country (dir: Patricio Guzmán)At Cannes, Patrizio Guzmán´s documentary offers one of the rare elements of hope in global politics.
ISRAEL: Children of Peace (dir: Maayan Schwartz)The many children brought up in the unique environment where a group of Arabs and Jews decided to challenge everything they know about their nationalities and histories.