On Wednesday 23 May, 7 pm, Kaunas Artists’ House will host a screening of “Young and Healthy as a Rose” (“Mlad i zdrav kao ruža”, dir. Jovan Jovanović, 1971). This event is the sixth part of a series of independent film screenings, initiated by an educational platform “Kitas Kinas” (“Other Cinema”). 

“Young and Healthy as a Rose” was the first feature film of a young Serbian film director, Jovan Jovanović. The film is a strong visionary achievement that still looks topical today as back in the times when it was filmed, and, over the years, has gained almost prophetic qualities. The film tells a story about a young delinquent, who evolves from typical outsider to mafia boss of Belgrade, also revealing the entire spectre of the criminal underworld, drugs and the iron fist of the secret Serbian police.

It is a more poetical view than Hollywood movies, much more realistic than “Trainspotting”. The leading role of the anti-hero of the film, reminiscent of a young Robert de Niro in “Taxi Driver”, it often called the best screen appearance of Dragan Nikolić, the authentic sex symbol of the region back in the day. “I am the future“, he claims, with incredible foresight to the region’s chaotic future.

J. Jovanović was considered to be one of the up and coming mavericks of the new Yugoslav cinema, having enjoyed a degree of international success with his previous two documentaries. His feature debut reflects the chaotic early pre-punk movement aesthetics and pre-Dogme 95 avant-garde cinema, with shaky camera, improvised dialogue and ecstatic disregard for causality, which was absolutely unacceptable both to the Yugoslavian media and societal organisations, who criticised the film for its alleged attack on socialist values and deemed it politically unacceptable. There was no official ban of the film, but it was never seen again in theatres or on television until 2006.

Watching this film from a contemporary perspective, its brave and witty satire of socialist values, consumer mentality, youth rebellion, secret services and organised crime appears to have withstood the test of time. Although the film engages the audience with its chaotic and improvised dialogue, its most enduring quality is its prophetic, ironic look at the future of Yugoslavia.

The film will be screened in its original language with English subtitles.
Entry is free of charge but visitors are welcome to donate. Recommended donation: 3eu. Your contributions will be used to obtain screening licenses for upcoming films.

“Other Cinema” is an educational platform that introduces and overviews obscure films and their stories and personalities. The goal of this platform is to rescue unwittingly abandoned films from obscurity and review the most interesting manifestations of contemporary independent cinema, as well as to promote people’s interest in alternative cinema history and allow them to develop not only good but also bad taste.

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