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Crítica: Flotacija


- El documental de Eluned Zoë Aiano y Alesandra Tatić examina la coexistencia de lo mágico y lo pragmático en una comunidad minera serbia, en donde los habitantes son también cazadores de dragones

Crítica: Flotacija

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

The physical and the metaphysical may very well coexist without conflict – like they do in Majdanpek, Serbia: on one hand, the tangible world that can be seen and touched, and on the other, belief in the existence of dragons that live in the nooks and crannies of eastern Serbia’s lush, green forests. And for the residents of Majdanpek, these creatures are not myths.

This is the locally focused way of understanding the world that Eluned Zoë Aiano and Alesandra Tatić encourage the viewer to take up in Flotacija, a character study of a working-class family in Majdanpek, screened recently at the Verzió Film Festival. Dragan Marković, a miner since he was 15, plays the leaf flute and has six ex-wives, while his adult son, Cvele, sneaks into his now-abandoned high school and does doughnuts with his car in the car park. Desa Buzejić, Dragan’s sister, must keep track of her mortgage after the death of her miner husband and the sale of the Majdanpek copper mine to Chinese investors, who now own their home.

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“What can I tell you? I killed a lot of dragons,” boasts Pera – Dragan’s elderly father – who explains his fame as a dragon hunter in his younger years, a coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. This tradition derives from those of the Vlach, an ethnic group often affiliated with Romanians but with a distinct heritage and language. Using an ethnographic eye, Aiano and Tatić take the dragons as fact, just as the community does, and not as a superstitious belief system. Viewers are privy to traces of the creatures, such as what Dragan describes as blood dripping from within a hollow tree. However, he bemoans the fact that there are fewer dragons owing to deforestation and environmental destruction from the mine. His family’s legacy is at stake, and the natural order is off-kilter.

The directors frame Majdanpek’s open-pit mine in murky, grey, wide shots that transform its terraced landscape into threatening mountains. The city is a hodgepodge of shops in a state of disrepair covered by billboards in both Serbian and Chinese, while the forests are littered with massive construction-truck tires that make the trees look like a giant’s playthings. The repetitive mention of flotacija (lit. “flotation”), an odorous mineral processing procedure that churns bubbling copper in the mine, becomes a dark and omnipresent symbol for Majdanpek’s complex human condition.

The camera is highly mobile as our heroes talk to the filmmakers, sharing their stories, explaining local practices and airing their grievances. “Film this,” Dragan calls out, stomping up a plume of dusty copper ore whose toxicity previously led to a heart attack. With its slice-of-life format and minimalistic observational style, Flotacija presents a pleasant but disorganised portrait of this family that becomes difficult to keep straight. At 77 minutes, it skims too quickly over its secrets, never managing to fully untangle the interwoven fabric of the mining and dragon-hunting traditions.

Admirably, Aiano and Tatić eschew the clichés of a tradition-versus-modernity narrative. Woes caused by the latter can be seen in full swing: the privatisation of the mine, the grim reality of the environmental crisis and the intergenerational pseudo-serfdom created from this line of working-class miners. And still, the people persist – tradition is not sacrificed for modernity. Together they coexist, just like the humans and the dragons.

Flotacija is a co-production between Serbia’s Servia Film and Wild Pear Arts.

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(Traducción del inglés)

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