The film Slike iz života udarnika (Life of a Shock Force Worker, 1972, Yugoslavia, Bahrudin ‘Bato’ Čengić) that was awarded the joint film restoration grant in the framework of the programme ‘A Season of Classic Films’, has been selected to premiere in the 80th Venice International Film Festival. The international restoration premiere will take place on Wednesday 6 September at 11:15 (sala Corinto) and there are two repeat screenings on the 7th September.
On the occasion of the premiere, the Director of Photography Mr. Karpo Godina will be present as well as the Slovenian Minister of Culture Dr. Asta Vrečko and representatives from the collaborating European film heritage institutions (Slovenian cinematheque, Croatian State Archives – Croatian Cinematheque, Austrian Film Museum, Film Center Sarajevo, ACE – Association des Cinémathèques Européennes).
About the film
The film is a collection of exquisitely beautiful tableaux vivants inspired by the lives of coal miners in post-WWII Yugoslavia. The main character is a miner who, despite being glorified for his hardworking achievements, lives a life that is anything but glitz and glamour.
Besides shining a light onto one of the blind spots on the map of European film heritage, the film touches upon the subject of propaganda — a pertinent matter in our post-truth era.
“Slike iz života udarnika was made based on a feeling, my feeling, the feeling of a man from Bosnia who saw the Stakhanovite tribe as the most moral form of acknowledging the working class, all that communism and a socialist society meant at the time,” commented filmmaker Bato Čengić during the TV programme Povečava, RTV Slovenia on 28 March 1996.
The film originally premiered at the Pula Film Festival in 1972 – out of competition – and was considered a representative of the film movement called New Yugoslav Cinema and widely known by its pejorative label Yugoslav Black Wave. Films of this movement depicted everyday life in Yugoslavia in a naturalistic way, showing it to be far less perfect than purported.
During the war in early 1990s, Bato Čengić deposited a 35mm print of the film at the Slovenian Cinematheque in Ljubljana. The image and sound negatives are preserved at the Croatian state archive – Croatian cinematheque. The Slovenian Cinematheque and the Croatian state archive have been taking care of these precious film materials, but so far without the possibility of restoring them.
About the restoration
For the 3rd edition of the programme A Season of Classic Films, ACE – Association des Cinémathèques Européennes presented the Joint Restoration Grant of € 50.000. A Season of Classic Films is an initiative developed by ACE to promote film preservation and is financially supported by the EU Creative Europe MEDIA programme. The objective of this specific grant is to underline the importance of preservation and restoration of film heritage through transnational collaboration of film institutions.
The Slovenian Cinematheque proposed the restoration of this film in collaboration with the Croatian state archive – Croatian cinematheque, the Austrian Film Museum and the Film Center Sarajevo.
At the Cannes Film Festival 2022, ACE awarded its Joint Restoration Grant to Life of a Shock Force Worker (1972). The jury, comprised of filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa, Pordenone Silent Film Festival director Jay Weissberg and director of the Cinema-Fiction Department of ARTE Claudia Tronnier, selected the film from a raft of proposals submitted by European film archives. “Large parts of the Yugoslavian film heritage have so far been underserved,” the jury wrote about its choice. “Life of a Shock Force Worker has strong imagery, but it is in desperate need of colour grading since the original has faded with time. A key asset is that ACE and the four partner institutions responsible for this restoration project will collaborate with DoP Karpo Godina.”
Thanks to the Joint Restoration Grant of the Season of Classic Films and additional funding by the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Slovenia, the restoration has been successfully carried out in 4K through a remarkable international collaboration.
The negative was cleaned and scanned at L’immagine Ritrovata in Bologna (Italy), the positive print was digitized at Film Center Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), the film’s restoration and colour correction were completed at Teleking in Ljubljana (Slovenia), and the sound restoration was carried out at 001 d.o.o. in Ljubljana (Slovenia).
The restored copy includes previously censored fragments.
The restored film is already planned for screenings in other international festivals as well as for a 90-day free online offer across the whole Europe via the ArteKino Classics programme in the coming autumn.
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