Memoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) NUBS 4.25
Jul 04, 2023 15:45 - 17:15(Europe/London)
20230704T1545 20230704T1715 Europe/London 2.21. Filmic memoryscapes NUBS 4.25 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023
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The Evolution of Victimhood? The ‘Homeland War’ in Contemporary Croatian Cinema
Individual paperConflict, Violence and Memory 03:45 PM - 05:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 14:45:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 16:00:00 UTC
The 1991-95 war of independence in Croatia, known domestically as the ‘Homeland War’, mobilized a national(ist) victimization narrative which has since become integral to the nation’s collective memory. Significant literature exists on collective memory in Croatia, including memory politics (Đurašković, 2016; Karačić, Banjeglav, & Govedarica, 2012) and personal remembrance of the ‘Homeland War’ (Benčić, 2015). Analyses include history books (Agičić, 2011), preambles and declarations (Koren, 2011), monuments (Pavlaković, 2017) and interaction between media and the ICTY (Ristić, 2014) – many of which deal with the integration of the victimization narrative into national memory both top-down (politically) and bottom-up (as individual memory). 

Less attention (e.g. Blanuša, 2015; Jelača, 2016; Pejković, 2017; Perić, 2019) has been dedicated to the relationship between film – an accessible, popular way of narrating the past – and memory, especially specifically in the Croatian, as opposed to the wider post-Yugoslav, context. Yet the same victimization narrative has been dominant in cinema during the 1990s as well, leading Pavičić (2011) to identify the first decade of independent Croatian cinema as “cinema of self-victimization”, marked by specific style elements. In this paper, employing Bakhtin’s concept of hidden dialogicality as read by James Wertsch (2002), I analyze two recent films dealing with the ‘Homeland War’, both endorsed by the state – Kristijan Milić’s Broj 55 (2014) and Anton Vrdoljak’s General (2019) – in order to examine how the memory narrative of self-victimization has evolved during the last decade, if at all. I argue that while some elements of the narrative have indeed changed from what Pavičić has identified – most obviously the emphasis on a passive hero who, being simultaneously a victim, cannot take action – the core of the narrative remains the same, fitting in with the broader political changes in the country.

Keywords: collective memory, film and memory, ‘Homeland War’
Presenters Tamara Kolarić
Assistant Professor, Dublin City University
Contested layers of memory in contemporary Holocaust cinema: Martin Šulík’s Tlmočník (2018) as case-study
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 03:45 PM - 05:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 14:45:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 16:00:00 UTC
This presentation examines the negotiation of Holocaust memory in Slovakian-Czech-Austrian coproduction Tlmočník. Martin Šulík's narrative fiction film sees Ali (Jirí Menzel), Jewish-Slovakian son of Holocaust victims, travel through Austria and Slovakia, with Georg (Peter Simonischek), son of the SS officer alleged to have killed Ali's parents. Along their travels, they unearth knowledge of non-Jewish Slovakian co-perpetration of the Holocaust. They also stop by a youth centre for orphans of the Ukrainian-Russian war, as well as encountered news reports of the Russian occupation on a television in their hotel room.

This brief synopsis contains, following Michael Rothberg, the many "layers" of memory within Šulík's film. Firstly, there is Holocaust memory from a Jewish perspective, represented in the character of Ali. There is also Austrian perpetrator memory via Georg. Thirdly, there is Slovakian national memory of the Holocaust, which the film attempts to unsettle in its revelation of co-perpetration. Lastly, the film connects Holocaust remembrance to present-day human rights discourse and humane treatment of refugees (via allusions to the Ukrainian-Russian war) in the form of a  "Europeanised" transnational memory.

Further, this presentation explores the conceptual richness in Rothberg's notion of "layers". There are material, geological layers as well as figurative mnemonic ones. Across European landscapes there are thousands of unmarked mass graves of Holocaust victims. Šulík's film concludes with an extreme long shot of one such landscape. This opens the possibility to read into the film's "stratigraphic images", following Gilles Deleuze's vocabulary – images whose audiovisual layers are not accessible to an easily intelligible reading. 

For all their heuristic potential, cultural memories' layers are distributed hierarchically in Šulík's film, as well as in Slovakian and central European memory politics more broadly. Amongst the layering of memory, it is Jewish perspectives which are least developed in the film. Tlmočník attempts to imagine intercultural dialogue between Jews and non-Jews in a post-Holocaust Europe, most evident in the awkward pairing of its co-protagonists. In the complex hierarchical arrangement of memory's layers, however, it remains uncertain to what extent such dialogue is possible.
Archie Wolfman
PhD Candidate, Queen Mary University Of London
Korean Writing in Hard Times: Traumatic Past and National Identity in South Korean Movies of the 2010s
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 03:45 PM - 05:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 14:45:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 16:00:00 UTC
The period of Korea's existence as a Japanese colony lasted from 1910 to 1945. It was a tragic and traumatic period at the end of which Korea gained the status of an independent state, which it had been deprived of for many centuries. However, my talk is based not on the interpretation of historical events but on the analysis of representations of the Japanese occupation and the Korean national identity opposed to it. These representations are created and maintained in South Korean cultural production.
This period is often referred to in South Korean TV series of various genres, both historical and melodramatic, and even fantasy. Such abundance of material allows us to speak about the very emotional attitude of both the creators of the series and the audience to this time, about a certain integrity of the collective narrative about this traumatic period, as well as about a very wide range of problems that are touched upon in such works.
This presentation will focus on analysis of some painful issues raised in two feature films of the 2010s – "Dongju" (or "Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet", 2016) and "Malmoi" (or "Mal-Mo-E: The Secret Mission", 2019), based on real events and united by the common theme of the survival of the Korean language, Korean writing and Korean literature under the occupation. This talk will consider the visual representation of the period of occupation and the features of Korean and Japanese characters. It will also discuss Korean literature as a plot-forming element, and the interpretation of the topic of national identity in these films.

Aleksandra Tarasova
Associate Professor, Russian State University For The Humanities
Time Is Out of Joint: Sound and National Identity in Québecois and Northern English Film
Individual paperMemoryscapes (digital, locational, imagined) 03:45 PM - 05:00 PM (Europe/London) 2023/07/04 14:45:00 UTC - 2023/07/04 16:00:00 UTC
The province of Québec and the north of England share many aspects in their histories. Both regions have been denied sovereignty from their government which in its place enforces a "melting pot" vision of multiculturalism, where any regional or individual identity are encouraged to become a British or Canadian identity (Keating 2001; Taylor 2017). In the past, they have both been the centre of national industry, but are currently struggling with the changes of de-industrialization, various separatist movements, as well as the development of white nationalist movements (Faucher 2006; Christiano 2018). Yet, there is another similarity both regions possess. Within Québec and in the north of England, the social realist genre remains a popular mode of filmmaking. This genre not only provides entertainment, but crucially, also allows its viewers to contemplate their national and political circumstances through seeing the experiences of others in their positions (Lay 2007; Paul 2011; Forrest 2014). This presentation will assess this second function of the social realist film, through an examination of their soundtracks and how they are engaging in memoryscapes of the past. Specifically, throughout contemporary social realist films, sounds of the turbulent events of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s haunt characters in the present day as they try to cope with the notion of going forward in bleak socio-political circumstances. This presentation assesses a few examples of this notion from films of the past two decades, in order to demonstrate that as marginalized characters perceive sounds of the past, they become tormented by their sense of identity, feeling that they are simultaneously regressing into a politically turbulent time and losing a future to look forward to. Such examples include popular films such as Mommy (dir. Xavier Dolan, 2013), The Selfish Giant (dir. Clio Barnard, 2013), and I, Daniel Blake (dir. Ken Loach, 2016), as well as independent films such as Les êtres chers (dir. Anne Émond, 2015) and The Levelling (dir. Hope Dickson, 2016). Through an examination of how characters respond to sounds of the past, and how this impacts their ability to go forward with definite national identities, my presentation will reveal that for marginalized individuals, the sense of temporality has shifted such that a state-sanctioned vision of futurity (as seen in the Conservative Party's "Getting Britain Moving" campaign, or the Coalition Avenir Québec's "Continuons" [or "Onwards"]) manifesto is not accessible for those who are hearing the sounds of the past. Thus, this presentation not only compares the socio-political similarities between Québec and the north of England but argues that social realist cinema is capturing how memory has become disjointed in the present day for marginalized communities, as they remain uncertain about their national identities. 
Claire Gray
PhD Candidate, University Of Edinburgh
Assistant professor
Dublin City University
PhD candidate
Queen Mary University of London
Associate Professor
Russian State University for the Humanities
PhD Candidate
University of Edinburgh
 Tebessüm Yilmaz
PhD Candidate
Humboldt University of Berlin
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