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Interview with Filipovic, Marina. Moviegoing in Serbia (former Yugoslavia). (2021)

Conducted and Transcribed by Judith Hahn in Spring 2021.

Link to Podcast-Style Interview:

Analytical Note

On March 26, 2021, Judith Hahn virtually interviewed Professor Marina Filipovic in Williamsburg, Virginia. The interview was conducted in English, and Judith Hahn transcribed the interview during the Spring 2021 semester for her Russian independent study course.

Professor Marina Filipovic was born in Serbia (former Yugoslavia) in the year 1980. More specifically, she was born in a small town that was around three hours away from Belgrade (capital of Serbia). She resided in this small town until she was twelve years old, and then she and her family relocated to Belgrade. Her mother was a nurse and her father was a post office clerk, so she had a fairly modest upbringing. A lower middle class upbringing makes Filipovic’s educational background that much more impressive: B.A. in Serbian Literature from the University of Belgrade, M.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and Ph.D. in Russian Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at The College of William and Mary.

The interview with Professor Filipovic is mainly centered around her personal experiences visiting theaters. After the questions regarding background information, Filipovic took the liberty of providing the name of the first and only movie theater she visited in her small hometown: “Moravitsa” (named after the river in her hometown). While Filipovic was able to recall the name of the first theater she went to, she was unable to identify the very first film she saw. When asked about whether the experience of visiting a movie theater piqued her interest more than the type of film that was featured, she admitted that it was the experience or the “venue” itself that was the major selling point for her. Despite the rise of popular streaming services, Filipovic made it clear that she is partial to physically visiting and watching movies in theaters. Going further into the interview, it is possible to detect that transportation really was not an issue, since the theater in her small hometown was within walking distance. As Filipovic transitioned to more urban living in Belgrade, she certainly had access to more theaters near her apartment. It is important to note that the parents in Filipovic’s hometown placed a fair amount of trust in their children. So, in addition to the fact that her hometown was a close-knit community where most people knew each other, a relatively great amount of parental trust made it possible for children to travel to the theaters alone at a young age (around 10).

Finally, it is crucial to note that the interview unveiled various defining characteristics in Filipovic’s moviegoing experience. For starters, the conversation made it apparent that Filipovic’s exposure to movies is well-rounded. Filipovic brings up notable names from the Russian and Serbian moviegoing world: Nikolai Cherkasov (from Ivan the Terrible), Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror, Danilo Stojković, Mira Banjac, Dušan Makavejev, Zoran Radmilović, and Milena Dravić (among others). She is also extremely familiar with Western films and stars such as Meryl Streep and Anthony Hopkins (starred in the film Hitchcock). Growing up, Filipovic absolutely adored Walt Disney films and even considered it a “number one thing”. Surprisingly, the food some people ate (e.g. popcorn and sunflower seeds) in the Serbian theaters is similar to what people eat in U.S. theaters. Interestingly enough, Filipovic’s experience is one that did not have room for dubbed films. This seems to make sense when one considers how an undubbed film can expose the viewer to a more authentic cultural experience among other potential benefits. Filipovic underscores the overall significance of undubbed films by mentioning how it can be “rewarding” to see and hear films in the “original language”. Overall, this interview was truly a valuable learning experience in that it was an opportunity to intently hear and fully consider film-related experiences from a well-educated individual with a unique cultural background.



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