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Ciné-Guerrillas: Scenes from the Labudović Reels

Ciné-Guerrillas: Scenes from the Labudović Reels

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Self-described "artivist" Mila Turajlić mines Yugoslavian newsreel archives to tell a story of international solidarity and resistance to the binary of the Cold War. Focusing on the work of cameraman Stevan Labudović, who traveled the world on Yugoslav "peace missions" and was embedded with Algerian freedom fighters for three years, the films in this diptych can be watched together, but also stand alone as fascinating independent documentary works.

At an Algerian museum, Serbian filmmaker Mila Turajlić is struck by an exhibit featuring an old film camera. It belonged to a Yugoslav cameraman, celebrated as a hero in Algeria. His name is Stevan Labudović, he is 87, and he lives in Belgrade. Turajlić, from the same city, had never heard of him.

Known as the finest cameraman in Yugoslavia, he was handpicked in 1960 by Yugoslav President Josep Broz Tito to support the Algerian anti-colonial effort, in part because he saw parallels between the Algerian resistance and the Yugoslav partisans’ fight against Nazi occupiers in WWII. Labudović’s mission: to make films countering French propaganda.

In CINÉ-GUERRILLAS: SCENES FROM THE LABUDOVIĆ REELS Turajlić follows Labudović’s work in Algeria through intimate interviews with him and Algerian revolutionary contemporaries—and, more importantly, through his newsreel footage, which she matches up with excerpts from his diary. Labudović lived with the Algerian fighters, filming them as they traveled through the mountains, sometimes engaging in sabotage. No impartial observer, he brought along newsreel footage of the Yugoslav resistance to raise morale. And, unlike others covering the war, the Algerians trusted him totally.

CINÉ-GUERRILLAS: SCENES FROM THE LABUDOVIĆ REELS is a testament to international solidarity, and to the power of images in the fight for decolonization.

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