The student demonstrations of 1968 and the turmoil that followed the occupation of Czechoslovakia are at the center of Žilnik’s first feature film, Early Works (1969), which was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and four prizes at Pula that same year.
After being censored in Yugoslavia, Žilnik spent the mid-1970s in West Germany, where he independently produced and made seven documentaries and one feature film, Paradise (1976). These were amongst the first to touch on the theme of foreign workers in Germany, and they continue to be shown at various film retrospectives and symposiums.
Turning to independent film and media production in the 1990s, he went on to make a series of feature and documentary films centering around the cataclysmic events in the Balkans: Tito among the Serbs for the Second Time (1994), Marble Ass (1995), Throwing Off the Yolks of Bondage (1997), Wanderlust (1998). These films won top awards at national festivals (Herceg Novi, Palić, Novi Sad and Sopot) and were screened at numerous international festivals. In 1995 Marble Ass won the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlinale.
The breakdown of the value system in post-transitional Central and Eastern European countries and the problems concerning refugees and migration in the new circumstances of an expanded Europe were the focus of Žilnik’s most recent films: Fortress Europe (2000), Kennedy Goes Back Home (2003), Europe Next Door (2005), Old School of Capitalism (2009), among others.
His works are featured in collections of galleries and museums of contemporary art around the world. He has participated in international art events such as documenta in Germany and the Venice Biennale in Italy.
Alongside his ceaseless filmmaking and production work, Žilnik has been active in educational areas, as well; since 1997 he has been a mentor and executive producer at many international workshops for students from all over southeastern Europe. Since 2006 he has been a visiting lecturer at film schools and universities in the USA, Slovenia and the UK.
Novi Sad, Serbia
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- Niš, Serbia
Author(s) of this page
- Vukmanović, Jelena