izabrana dela

izabrana dela

петак, 31. јул 2009.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORN GANG (2009)

Directed by Mladen Djordjevic

Serbia 2009

Genre: Horror drama / road-movie / black comedy

Here is a film from Serbia which succeeds to be shocking and original: Zivot i smrt porno bande (The Life and Death of a Porn Gang, 2009), a debut feature by Mladen Djordjevic. He became known among horror fans with his short films Zivi mrtvaci (The Living Dead, 2000) and Glad (Hunger, 2002) and he earned a wider acclaim with his feature-length documentary about Serbian porn industry, Made in Serbia (2005). These concerns logically overflow into his Porn Gang. It deals with an aspiring filmmaker, Marko, who is unable to pursue a career in horror films. He ventures into the porn industry, but his unorthodox style fails to impress producers. Frustrated, he assembles a crew of junkies, homosexuals and transvestites and starts a traveling live porn show. It draws attention of the suspicious Serbian police, but also of the locals, unhappy with the provocative material. Soon a shady producer approaches them and offers real money in exchange for snuff films they are to make for his clientele…

Instead of copying uncritically the foreign generic models, as Serbian horrors like T. T. Syndrome and Zone of the Dead have done, Porn Gang hits so close to home that it hurts twice as much. Its real inspiration lies in the years of (post)Milosevic Serbia in which civil wars and violence of all kinds brough about failure of all ideals. Grown up among images of slaughtered, decapitated people shown in prime time Serbian news, Mladen Djordjevic takes a documentary form as a way of capturing a stylized, but still very authentic portrait of the complex ways that Eros and Thanatos are merged in today's Serbia. The motif of snuff metaphorically reveals a strong death-wish present among the disenchanted, disillusioned people for whom death is the only salvation. Thus, Djordjevic presents a line-up of voluntary victims of snuff films which shows a touching, melancholy cast of the ruined and forgotten ones. Unlike the victims in American torture-porns with snuff motif, so full of life and courage to fight until their last gasp, the Serbian ones come to their executioners voluntarily, searching a means of sustaining their impoverished families or a quick escape from unbearable life.

Although the film had a very low budget, this only augments its documentary look; thanks to the expert digital camera of Nemanja Jovanov, it reaches an authentic feel rarely seen since the days of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Largely unknown young actors and nonprofessionals invest their characters with honesty and frankness. Unlike their "movie stars" colleagues, they are unafraid to bare all, both physically and emotionally, thus making this shocking and harrowing film at the same time very engaging and emotional. In its sympathy for the outsiders, but also in its road-movie structure, Porn Gang continues the tradition of the Serbian "Black Wave" of the 1960s, especially films by Zelimir Zilnik like Rani radovi (1969), but infuses it with modern influences, especially the films of Takashi Miike.

The Life and Death of a Porn Gang exposes the underbelly of contemporary Serbia and pulls no punches in the process. The film throws away almost all taboos, such as group sex, murder, full frontal nudity, violence to animals, homosexuality, bestiality, snuff… only here they come with a socio-political context. What Naked Lunch by William Burroughs was for America in the 1950s and 1960s, Porn Gang is for post-Milosevic Serbia. Its significance is well summed up in the catalogue of the Puchon film festival where it shocked and enhralled the audience: "As you see the enthusiastic youngsters dreaming of art and revolution being murdered, raped, and kidnapped one by one, you get to wonder if you're witnessing one of the biggest turning points, or cinematic landmarks, of the Serbian film history."

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