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Karla Crnčević

The cursor moves across a digital map, leaving the coast to explore a uniformly blue sea, its restless movements evoking the wrench of exile. 30 years after her father fled Croatia, Karla Crnčević recuperates the videotapes he shot the day he returned to his village when the war was over – the only images he ever filmed. The father’s voice, in the present tense, accompanies the recordings of the devastation but, little by little, the two narratives, visual and audio, subtly begin to diverge. The film weaves itself into this discrepancy, like an essay on memory and archive, on memory as the incomplete process of recreation, on the surprising wild flowers emerging among the ruins of the past.

Margot Mecca

Your film is based on images shot in 1992 by your father. Could you tell us how the film originated ?

It started with the VHS that my father gave me when I went to EQZE school and asked me to digitize. It’s a recording he made after the Balkan wars in 1992. And it’s the only time he used a camera. We don’t have any other family archival material, just that. For me it was important to think about images that we keep in our families, why we create them – what are the intentions and positions behind them. It tells a lot about the politics of images and ideas about power that preserved images could hold for the future.

The soundtrack consists of you discussing these same images with your father. Why this decision to have a counterpoint between the images and your conversation ?

A question that is very important for me is why someone who never thought about using a camera takes one, and how he remembers it later. For him it was a very important moment in his life. It’s obvious that he clearly remembers some points of the recording even though it was 30 years earlier; but other moments are totally lost in his memory. I wanted to face the materiality of film with the memory of a person. For me there was something very meaningful in that conversation; him “seeing” images once more with my eyes, in the gaps of his remembering, in black spots, intending to remember – it was like creating a story from scratch even if it already happened.

The video images seem straightforward, but after a while it seems that you choose to edit the conversation to match them, or that you freeze certain frames. Could you tell us about the process of editing ?

Yes, I decided to intervene in the material myself by changing the order and freezing some frames, adding the sound, and playing with fiction and reality. With that gesture I wanted to create a new memory, a memory that is shared, and our way of looking at the images together acquired a new dimension. 

The way into the film is through much more contemporary images : satellite views of the sea on Google Earth, with a text written in subtitles. Could you tell us more about this text and these images, and the reason why you chose to open your film with it ?

The first part of the movie is a combination of words that my mom wrote me about leaving her home, and satellite images that are, on a small scale, trying to recreate the trip we took with a boat full of people in 1991, when escaping the war zone. Its a process of recreating the feeling of being lost – how I can get lost on a map? By going deeper and deeper in the pixels of the screen – where the image, due to the connection, sometimes even disappears – trying to navigate with cursor, not wanting to zoom out and see the full scale map. Its’ dealing with feeling of not being able to see where you are moving to, and it’s trying to evoke a feeling of insecurity. I like working with images that are already around us, and that we use every day like tools, giving them new life, treating them like living multipurpose archives that can tell stories.

Interview by Margot Mecca

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Technical sheet

Croatia, Spain / 2022 / 11’

Rights holder
Karla Crnčević