SHORTS: Neil Young on two notable documentary shorts from Belgrade's Alternative Film/Video
Neil Young
Young is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: January 9, 2020
Ibarska Highway, Flânerie 2.0
Country: Serbia, France

Ibarska Highway

As the song says, «the road is long, with many a winding turn…». Serbia’s magistrala 22 is widely regarded as the single most notorious and dangerous thoroughfare in the ex-Yugoslavian state, a Balkan nation where hazardous driving conditions are—for various interconnected, socio-economic reasons—regrettably far from uncommon.

Stretching some 298km from the suburbs of the capital Belgrade to the border with Montenegro, «State Road 22» (S-22) is an especially busy and important ribbon of tarmac. It nevertheless stubbornly remains an old-school single-highway affair in each direction; the margins are dotted with busy rakija-dispensing bars and meat-oriented restaurants as well as a myriad of domestic dwellings.

Ibarska Highway, a film by Aleksandrija Ajduković

Dubbed the «Ibarska Highway» because of the way it partly follows the contours of the Ibar river, this legendary piece of infrastructure is now becoming better known beyond the region thanks to a new short film bearing its name. Directed by Aleksandrija Ajduković and edited by Miloš Korać, #Ibarska Highway is a frenetic and vibrant variation on the venerable «city symphony» sub-genre of creative documentary of which Dziga Vertov‘s silent classic The Man With A Movie Camera (1929) remains the best-known example.

Here, however, the focus is strictly on suburban and quasi-rural locales—such as the small town of Meljak, which S-22 bisects. Locals attending a wedding feast pose in front of Ajduković’s lens, showing off their finery. Their exuberance is contrasted with calmer glimpses of roadside residents enjoying their gardens, senior citizens evidently long accustomed to blocking out the sounds, smells, and sights of the huge trucks thundering past with juggernaut intensity. An elegiac note is provided by images of flower-garlanded memorials to the many victims of the so-called …

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