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DOKUFEST 2023

Review: Snajka: Diary of Expectations

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- In her debut documentary, Tea Vidović Dalipi tells the story of her marriage, and opens up a dialogue between cultures and traditions

Review: Snajka: Diary of Expectations
Tea Vidović Dalipi and Mirsad Dalipi in Snajka: Diary of Expectations

Tea Vidović Dalipi is not a filmmaker by trade. She is a sociologist, civil society activist, and active researcher in the field of migration and cultural identities. This varied background proves to come in handy for her debut documentary effort, the very personal observational and participative work Snajka: Diary of Expectations [+see also:
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, in which she tries to tackle a number of serious and intertwined topics using the example of her own marriage. After ten years of filming and post-production, Snajka has enjoyed its world premiere as one of the special screenings at Dokufest.

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The helmer opens her film with a long title card in which she defines the traditional Balkan term “Snajka”, which refers to a daughter- or sister-in-law, a woman who marries into a husband’s house and family, and therefore has to adapt and submit to the rules of the host’s family. In the case of her documentary, the “Snajka” is her, which she explains via voice-over narration over the top of home-video footage of her wedding with Mirsad Dalipi

They met on a workshop for the theatre of the oppressed and married six months later. She is Croatian and he is a Roma man from Kosovo. Their economic and cultural backgrounds are so different that they are virtually incompatible, so they have to strike balances and make compromises in order for their marriage to survive the pressures from the outside and from within their own families. With the birth of their daughter Frida, some things become clearer, while others get blurrier.

The fact that Mirsad is technically unemployed and a formally uneducated musician who has to rely on getting enough drumming gigs does not curry favour with Tea’s parents, compounding their inherent cultural racism, while the racism he sometimes encounters from Croatian society in general is not just “cultural”. On the other hand, Tea does not want to be the stereotypical “spoiled white girl” when it comes to her relationship with Mirsad’s family, but she does not understand the customs or the unwritten rules, which nobody bothers to explain to her.

In the end, Snajka is not so much about her in her assigned role in his family and him in his assigned role in her society, as it is about the personal baby steps in establishing a dialogue and understanding between these cultures that are geographically close, but which culturally could not be further removed from each other. Its structure, however, makes it a proper “diary of expectations”, not just from one side, but from both. Sometimes, the dates are “printed” on the screen, but they appear without the relevant years, which does not turn out to be problematic in terms of following the progression of time. The technical quality of the footage shot by the filmmaker herself and Dinka Radonić with occasional help from others improves, and so does the married couple’s eloquence in addressing the issues between them, while their focus, of course, shifts from themselves and their needs to the needs of their daughter, whom they and their families love unconditionally. The sense of authenticity imbued in the material remains intact with little intervention, while the editing by Jelena Maksimović keeps the pace and the running time down to a pleasant 73 minutes.

Snajka: Diary of Expectations should be considered a filmmaking success, especially for a first-timer who essentially gained the requisite skills while filming it. However, its value as an eloquent start to striking up a dialogue between cultures is even greater than that.

Snajka: Diary of Expectations is a co-production between Croatia, Italy and Kosovo, staged by Restart in co-production with STE Film, Al Jazeera Balkans and Möbius, and in co-operation with Tabahana Film.

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