Društvo| Ekonomija| Umetnost

Moving Pictures, Shifting Sands

Chris Farmer RSS / 07.07.2013. u 19:17

Just when I thought nothing more could surprise me, I have just been rather unpleasantly surprised.

In Paracin for the weekend among in-laws and ancient ancestors, at one point we were at a loss for something to do that did not involve mounds of food, liters of rakija, and hours of nostalgia. Always the resourceful sort, I come up with a perfect plan for a Sunday night.

Let's go see a movie, I said.

And then came the surprise. There is no cinema in Paracin. Nor in Nis. Nor in Ruma, Subotica or Vranje. I discovered that, apart from the Serbian capital, there are almost NO CINEMAS in the whole country. Of course I could hardly believe this, having been brought up with movies and going to the movies as part of my earliest childhood. I immediately spring into action - I googled it.

Cinemas all over the country, I found out, were closed a few years ago due to lack of funds to keep them open, renovate them, bring them up to spec, or draw in new movie-goers. When a large number of movies houses in Belgrade closed (at about the same time), I remember the lamentation - but even so there are still a good number of working cinemas in Belgrade. I did not realize at the time what a big deal this actually was...

I grew up in a small town of about 7,000ish people. But in Waverly, Iowa, there was a cinema, complete with bright lights, glamorous posters, and Saturday afternoon matinees. Movie stars, blockbusters, and bucolic drive-ins were as much a part of my youth as baseball and summer vacations.

If you happen to live outside the White City, the best you can do is watch TV or wait for a local cultural festival in order to see moving pictures. The shifting sands of the Serbian economy have buried this essential art form (the "Seventh Art" - after architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, music, and poetry) in the desert of How Things Used to Be.

I suppose I should not be surprised. But I really expected that, even if it were a run-down, poorly maintained, and infrequently frequented place, at least ONE cinema would be sporadically open in Paracin. But sadly no.

Maybe that is why there are 873 Pink movie channels.

What surprises me further is that no one has seized on this cinematographic vacuum to open a few private movie houses in this or that town. Film is, if we believe the press releases, highly cherished and revered in Serbia. There are still national, regional, and international film festivals in Belgrade. Hollywood has turned more and more often to Serbia as a shooting location. And everyone can name the most popular stars of the silver screen.

Given this, it does not follow that there is any lack of interest in the cinema. And even if we can watch movies on the small screen or download them clandestinely for monitor viewing, the allure of the Big Screen is still powerful.

The argument that people do not have money to invest in the cinema is spurious in my view. After all, movies are Big Business all over the world. Cinemas may not all make tons of money, but if you build one, people will go.

In the meantime, still in Paracin, I guess I will have to go back to the in-laws for some entertainment. When the sun goes down we can flip through the wedding photos and see if it makes a movie.


Komentari (7)

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blogovatelj blogovatelj 20:11 07.07.2013

The investing is not the problem

The argument that people do not have money to invest in the cinema is spurious in my view.

The real issue is the money return from that kind of investment.
Torrents, Youtube, huge TV screens. Many people have cinemas in their homes today.
Also, there are two cities very close to Paracin, I'm sure either Jagodina or Cuprija have decent movie theater.

iqiqiq iqiqiq 20:20 07.07.2013

Thanks Cris...

...for your honest remarks, I read the previous one as well. Brave man you are writing about all these obvious things, that we do not want to see/admit.

I have spent less than three years abroad, coming back to Serbia happy to be back home. With new friends from my out-of -Serbia life, I invited them many times to come to visit us in Belgrade. Only one of them, "brave heart" friend came, with lot's of fear about wild tribe in Serbia. He was positively surprised with many things, but honest in comments similar to your "Through New Eyes".
Also,there, I have lived in a small 30.000 town, comparing with Belgrade, it had all what I needed, like I managed to shrink Belgrade: indoor swimming pool, cinema, theater,several soccer pitches, few shopping moles,few pubs, few restaurants etc.

Before this experience, I was always determined never to live in any city, smaller size than Belgrade. After this experience, I am fully open to move in such place wherever it could be found on planet Earth.
We need to improve social life in smaller cities and towns in Serbia, to improve internet connections etc, to bring life in these places, so that they will be even more attractive for living than Belgrade, which is urban jungle nowadays, not very sustainable for family and stress-free life.
oskar-z-wild oskar-z-wild 20:34 07.07.2013

Re: Thanks Cris...

A shopping mole!
iqiqiq iqiqiq 12:32 10.07.2013

Re: Thanks Cris...

He he, pa većina kupaca i izgleda kao krtica, posebno što je osobina krtice da skuplja što više...što je pandan klasičnom potrošaču.
Ne znam da li je neko primetio na Delta City zidu/ulazu piše bukvalno latinicom "šoping mol". Molila bih da napišu "шопинг мол" da čuvamo tradiciju.
oskar-z-wild oskar-z-wild 20:31 07.07.2013

Semenke, kokice i leblebije

Throughout the sixties and seventies I would spend a large part of my summer holidays with both sets of my grandparents in Kragujevac. There were three to four cinemas there: Pionir, Radnički, Šumadija and one more which was demolished in the 70s. I think that these were run by large social or state owned enterprises which could balance the losses.

With the end of Yugoslavia, only one remained until very recently. Since last year I think they have a cineplex chain which is probably owned by a multi-national company which can balance the losses.

In America too, chains survived longer than single owner cinemas.

There is nothing sadder than an empty cinema in a Tribalian town with a couple of Roma kids chewing and spitting sunflower seeds.

rade.radumilo rade.radumilo 09:17 08.07.2013

Sex, drugs and ro... (ooops it's Grand)

The bread of cinemas were and always will be the teenagers. They are the ones that will go to the movie theaters regularly, for both the sake of the movie and the going out itself (preferably in an opposite sex company).
The theaters need this regular audience coming. Only then can a movie theater afford to put some culture on the schedule.
Good old cinemas of our youth couldn't keep up with the demands of today kids. I've loved watching Kenneth Branagh in "Morava" twenty seats movie theater, but I think that the Avatar would look better on my 42in HD screen, if I hadn't gone to Ušće where I had actually watched it. I'm not even talking 3D, because I've never wished to watch a movie in this mock up of 3D.
jednatanja jednatanja 12:15 08.07.2013


in my hometown in north Vojvodina, the only cinema closed a few years ago. Very sad. And very good point you make with your blog.

There is a small town in central PA, a guy won the lottery and fulfilling his life dream, opened a cinema (1 screen). He told me after a few years that he made a very, very small profit, but was happy as a clam, drinking coffee in his cafe, and discussing films and other art issues with people who came from all over the area to visit his movie theatre and enjoy the atmosphere.



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