Lazar Stojanović Collection
Lazar Stojanović (1944-2017), film director, journalist and intellectual, was one of the most famous cultural dissidents of socialist Yugoslavia. His film “Plastic Jesus” (1971) was declared as anti-communist and anti-state propaganda and led to Stojanović’s three year imprisonment. The collection represents Stojanović’s personal compilation gathered over the previous decades and consists of books, newspapers, posters, catalogues and video materials/films.
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Name of collection
- Lazar Stojanović Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
Stojanović dated the beginning of the collection to 1960, when he began gathering books and magazines as a high school student. He became interested in politics and got involved in socio-political issues very early. Thus, he started collecting books which were part of the most current political, social, theoretical and artistic publishing production. Some of those works remain in his actual holdings, which contain works in different languages (Serbo-Croatian, English, German and French) and encompass numerous topics and regions.
Abrupt disruptions have prevented the presentation of the collection in its entirety. The first of these came with the arrest of Lazar Stojanović in 1971 while editor of “Vidici” [The Views] after publishing the controversial, so-called “Nazi” issue. The issue explored Nazi propaganda practices and implied similarities with the methods and motifs of the socialist regime in Yugoslavia. This issue was banned and confiscated immediately.
Stojanović’s arrest in October 1972 brought the next disruption when Stojanović’s apartment was searched and much of the collection was confiscated by the police (more on this under “Masterpiece: Prison Record”). The authorities seized the film, Plastic Jesus (1972), which was labelled anti-communist and anti-state propaganda. In this film, the author expressed his critical attitude towards the current government and the Yugoslav political system (more on this topic under “Masterpiece: Film”). Among the effects confiscated, excluding the films, were all student newspapers, samizdat publications, émigré press, as well as the majority of the publications distributed among politically active youth. This material has never been returned to Stojanović.
Additional parts of the collection, particularly the most politically sensitive items disappeared during the ensuing police raids stretching into the mid 1980s. Beyond what has been mentioned above, the collection diminished in size owing to Stojanović’s recurrent travels and movements, in the period from the late 1970s until today. During this period, the author lived on several continents – Asia (BI), Europe (UK), and from the beginning of the 1990s, North America (US). Those parts of the collection brought to, or gathered in these countries are lost, except for those items in New York City relating to the author’s activism after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The author has not yet decided on the manner in which the collection should be transferred to future generations. The collection is private and not accessible to researchers.
Lazar Stojanović is considered a representative of the second generation of directors of the so-called “Black Wave”. The “Black Wave” was a critical art movement that emerged in particular within the so called “New Yugoslav Film” (1961-72), a unique reaction in Yugoslav cinematography to the “New Waves” in other movements in European film at that time. At first employed as a pejorative term by the state to depreciate reactionary tendencies, “Black Wave” quickly came to be used as the name for the modernist and non-conformist style of films with a critical attitude towards SFRY. This artistic movement was, on the one hand, part of greater efforts to criticize Yugoslav socialism, together with PRAXIS and the Korčula School but on the other hand was seen as an independent evaluation of the socialist revolution and its consequences in Yugoslavia. Gathered at first around Belgrade’s Kino-club, and later the Academy for Theatre, Film, Radio and Television, it counted Aleksandar Petrović (Tri, 1966, Skupljači perja/I Even Met Happy Gypsies/ 1969), Želimir Žilnik (Early works, 1969), Živojin Pavlović (Grad 1963, Kada budem mrtav i beo 1968) and Dušan Makavejev (Ljubavni slučaj ili tragedija službenice P.T.T./Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, 1967, WR: Mysteries of the Organism, 1971) among its most prominent members. These films dealt primarily with marginalized individuals and groups, questioning the socialist revolution and personal freedom, as well as the freedom of expression in socialism.
“Plastic Jesus” and the ensuing trial of Stojanović marked the end of the most liberal period of artistic creation in the history of Yugoslav cinematography. Dušan Makavejev departed to the US owing to pressure he received from filming “WR: Mysteries of the Organism”. Želimir Žilnik left for Germany. Stojanović’s mentor Aleksandar Petrović was fired from the Academy in 1973 and left the country for France. Živojin Pavlović was not allowed to teach anymore whereas Stojanović got a three year detention.COURAGE still managed to interview Lazar Stojanović about his private collection before he died. Since Stojanovic's recent death on 4 March 2017, his widow Suzana Jovanović owns all rights to his material. The family plans to transfer the collection to an institution that allows future access for research. No decision has been felt yet though.
After the end of the “Black Wave” period in Yugoslavia, the so called “Red Wave” took over with films placative to the communist regime and shot in a propagandistic style which glorified the government and the Yugoslav socialist system.
Description of content
Lazar Stojanović’s collection covers the personal estate of one of the most prominent Yugoslav dissidents. A majority (more than two-thirds) of the current collection of Stojanovic’s library are in the possession of his son. Stojanović’s materials on his art work and activism is since his death owned by his widow, Suzana Jovanović. These include his most important movies, a collection of newspaper articles on his art and political activism, older issues of the student magazines (The Student, The Views) which were not confiscated, his artistic posters and scenarios, books referring to his work, materials from visits to foreign universities etc. and the re-mastered version of “Plastic Jesus” released in 2016. An especially valuable piece of the collection is the scanned prison file containing his verdict, appeals and other relevant material from his prison stay. As he was unable to get hold of his personal file even after the collapse of communist rule, Stojanović received the file via non-institutional channels.
- film: 10-99
- legal and/or financial documentation: 0-9
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 100-499
Geographical scope of recent operation
Place of founding
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Creators of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- all closed to the public
Authors of this page
- Radović, Sanja
Ćirić, Sonja, 2016. “Intervju – Lazar Stojanović, Reditelj: NATO Nema Alternativu." Nedeljnik Vreme, February 11. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://www.vreme.com/cms/view.php?id=1366268&print=yes.
DeCuir, Greg, Gordana Baškot, and Tatjana Antin. 2011a. Jugoslovenski crni talas: polemički film od 1963 do 1972 u Socijalističkoj Federativnoj Republici Jugoslaviji. Beograd.
DeCuir, Greg et al. 2011b. Yugoslav black wave: Polemical Cinema from 1963-1973 in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Belgrade: Film Center Serbia.
Goulding, Daniel J. 2002. Liberated Cinema: The Yugoslav Experience, 1945-2001. Bloomington&Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
Levi, Pavle. 2009. Raspad Jugoslavije na filmu: Estetika i ideologija u jugoslovenskom i postjugoslovenskom filmu. Beograd: Biblioteka XX vek.
Marković, Predrag. 2011. “Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Yugoslav Culture in the 1970s Between Liberalization/Westernization and Dogmatisation.” In: The Crisis of Socialist Modernity. The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia in the 1970s, edited by Marie-Janine Calic, Dietmar Neutatz und Julia Obertreis, 118–133. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
Pantić, A, 2015. "Lazar Stojanović: Svako Sam Odlučuje Kad će Da Bude Hrabar" In: 24sata, June 13. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://www.24sata.rs/lazar-stojanovic-svako-sam-odlucuje-kad-ce-da-bude-hrabar/13035.
Solomun, Zoran. 2012. “Plastic Jesus. Tito und die jugoslawischen Achtungsechziger.” Deutschlandfunk, February 7. Accessed February 2, 2017. http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/plastic-jesus-tito-und-die-jugoslawischen-achtundsechziger.media.5b54c319d7e32feaba15a76a5d081d3b.pdf
Tirnanić, Bogdan. 2011. Crni talas. 2. izd. Edicija Pogledi i Traganja. Beograd: Filmski centar Srbije.
Vučetić, Radina. 2016. Monopol na istinu. Beograd: Clio.
Stojanović, Lazar , interview by Radović, Sanja , December 10, 2016, November 15, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection