Tue. Apr 23rd, 2019

The zombie apocalypse ravages Croatia to make fun of nationalism

The zombie apocalypse ravages Croatia to make fun of nationalism



A virus turns humans into zombies in Croatia, but the population of the Serbian minority is saved: their blood will also serve to elaborate a traditional salting spirit.

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This is the plot of the zombie comedy "The Last Serbian in Croatia", the first work of the Croatian film director Predrag Licina, which is screened these days in Zagreb.

In this comedy, the zombies - a bloody mass of gray skin, with tattered clothes and eyes in white - are a symbol of the uniformed ravages of nationalism.

At the same time, many immune Croats despite being bitten by zombies suffer an internal debate to realize that way they are not pure, as they have some Serbian gene.

"My life has lost all meaning," laments an ultra-Croatian with Ustasha tattoos (the Croatian pro-Nazis of World War II) upon learning of his "impurity," even though it saves him from being a monster with cognitive ability of a mollusk.

Knowing that they are the only ones who can save humanity makes the Serbs happy and, above all, confirms their hilarious conviction that they are a "celestial" ethnic group.

This definition was a widespread idea among Serbian ultranationalists during the wars that bled and fragmented the former Yugoslavia a quarter of a century ago.

The myths of Balkan nationalism are thus ridiculed in this Croatian-Serbian co-production in which the Croatian heroine is played by a Serbian actress, while the main Serbian protagonist is portrayed by a Croatian.

"The primary objective of this whole idea has been to make the suffering people of the former Yugoslavia laugh, warning them at the same time about how small and insignificant we all are at the planetary level", comments the director of the film to Efe.

The salutary serum cures the inhabitants of Croatia from the pandemic but turns them into Serbian ultras. In the end, the international community - fed up with crazed extremists - bombs the country and repopulates it with Albanians.

This bold comedy that leaves no puppet in its head and attacks the nationalist clichés of the peoples of the region is the first of Licina, who until now directed advertising videos.

His film, which has been a public success, is the latest in a series of comedies, such as "The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia" and "The national hero Ljiljan Vidic", who make fun of chauvinism.

In another film, "What State is this?" By Vinko Bresan, four retired people who seek in a tragicomic way to do justice steal the coffin of the Croatian nationalist president Franjo Tudjman wearing t-shirts of international footballers Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic.

In a ridiculous confusion between generals, veterans and victims of war, the coffin ends up buried, in a grotesque way, in a remote Serbian cemetery.

The biggest victim of the mess is a common man, a gravedigger, who the "patriotic" authorities bury alive in the official grave of the "father of the Croatian nation" to avoid the scandal that would be the news about the disappearance of the body of Tudjman.

The gravedigger's cries are interpreted by an enraptured follower of Tudjman as messages from his idol from the other world, which creates a new plot with absurd twists.

Although these are blockbuster films, the film critic Jurica Pavicic is pessimistic about the scope of the anti-nationalist message of these works among the public.

The satire - he considers - is too soft against nationalism in Croatia, governed since independence (1991) for most of the time by the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) founded by Tudjman.

In fact, the current Government is in the hands of the HDZ of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

"Nationalism permeates all the pores of society - from politics, public ceremonies, school, television, radio, sports and music", summarizes Efe the critic.

These films, he adds, "are produced by a disappointed liberal citizenry for other members of that same sector of the population, the nationalists are not going to see them."

Hence, these films have not generated controversy among the nationalist sectors, which simply ignores them or considers them a work of bad Croats or even traitors.

"Nationalism is an armor used by an oligarchy to maintain itself in power, a framework in which the ruling party (HDZ), the church, war veterans and part of the conservative culture are intertwined," says Pavicic.

Vesna Bernardic

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