Pine and Fir Trees

Documentary Film
Croatia, 2002; beta, colour; 58'

Sanja Iveković filmed 20 hours of material for her documentary, just under an hour long, which presents five women's memories of life during and under socialism. Andjelka Martić, Marija Kohn, Sanja Lazarević, Milica Šoštarić and Evelina Pantner are extremely different women in terms of their professions, education, social status and attitudes about socialism; the only things they have in common are that they are all female and all lived during socialism, but even here things are not as simple as they seem. Is gender something that can link us together in the first place? And what about socialism? There are at least two socialisms present in the documentary: the one in which some of the five women lived and the one in which at least one of these women "learned to suffer". What the five women have in common are not so much the lives they lived, but the way they tell stories. They talk about things we are familiar with-the beginning of the Second World War, partisans, camaraderie, socialist morality, employment, the prison camp on Goli Island, March 8th celebrations, religion, health care, Tito, economic development, bank loans, style and fashion, the relay race-but every word they say is personal. No matter what they talk about, big issues or small, it has all been part of these women's personal lives. And this is how these issues are presented in the film, as in a personal record of things from everyday life. The personal and the everyday are spheres in which there are usually no great men with their great works. It serves them right, if they don't know what they are missing. There is more left for us, if I may borrow the punch line from a joke on an entirely different subject.
Sanja Iveković and her collaborators have combined the women's narration with archival footage, private photo materials, and a text in which we can read about historical events we may have forgotten over the last decade, including some things that especially concern women: for instance, the fact that during the Second World War 25 000 women were killed in active combat on Yugoslav territory, 40 000 were wounded, and 91 were later proclaimed national heroines. Despite the fact that Pines and Firs neither puts forward a thesis nor advocates a specific viewpoint, the parallels with life today are difficult to avoid. They are most clearly evident in one woman's statement about sexual equality under socialism: "We were one hundred percent equal to our male comrades, although there were days when we didn't like that so much, you know what I mean? We were equal when this was needed and when it really wasn't." She adds that in those days it was inconceivable for someone to say the kind of thing you can hear in Croatia nowadays: 'Talk less, breed more!' The five women's view of life during socialism sometimes becomes a uniquely female point of view, for instance, when one of the narrators speaks of the "solidarity roll", which was more than just a plain piece of bread if you are hungry and about to be put in prison. The shortest and most accurate description of the Anti-Fascist Women (AFŽ) soldiers is also offered here: "They were not in the front lines of combat, but they bore an awful lot on their backs in the rearguard." And what sounds more feminist or leftist than the statement that health care was fundamentally better under socialism than it is today, especially since this comes from a woman who is not exactly in favour of socialism?
The documentary Pines and Firs was developed in collaboration with the Zagreb Centre for Women's Studies, the Women's Art Centre-Elektra and the production house Top Mag d.o.o. The film was created by Sanja Iveković; camera and editing are the work of Irena Ščurić. Sanja Iveković, multimedia author and first visual artist in Croatia to express clear feminist views in her work, began exhibiting in the early seventies. She exhibited at biennial exhibitions in Paris and Sao Paolo, at Manifesta, Dokumenta; her videos and video installations have appeared at numerous international festivals (in Ljubljana, Berlin, Geneva, Los Angeles, Locarno, Tokyo…). In 2000, she founded Women's Art Centre - Elektra in 1996. She organised the International Forum for Feminist Art and Theory co-operation in Dubrovnik. She has been a resident co-worker at Zagreb's Centre for Women Studies since 1995.
Tanja Rener

Written and directed by: Sanja Iveković
Cinematographer: Irena Ščurić
Featuring: Anđelka Martić (writer); Marija Kohn (actress); Milica Šoštarić (worker); Sanja Lazarević (ethnologist); Evelina Pantner (employee)
Producer: Centar za ženske studije - Zagreb, Ženski umjetnički centar - Elektra, Top Mag d.o.o.

Organisation: City of Women
In co-operation with: Slovenska kinoteka
With the support of: Centre for Women's Studies Zagreb


Date and time of event: 
Oct 16th 20:00
Place of event: 
Slovenska kinoteka