Occupied Belgrade cinema - tickets, Tsipras and rebellion

Two years have passed since the occupation of the Zvezda cinema in Terazije.

Source: B92
Foto: Tanjug
Foto: Tanjug

During that time a lot of things happened, and one of the occupiers Luka Bursać talks to B92.net about dealing with the neighbors, about power being stolen, and more...

“If we were to make a movie right now, we would pay off the costs in 15 days of showing at Zvezda. More people would see the movie at Zvezda than at Cineplexx. Here we would have 350 viewers, and they would have 80,” Zvezda cinema’s occupier Luka Bursać begins his story.

He graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, he likes to watch movies by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (and all others), and he is focused on the occupation of the Zvezda cinema.

“You don’t even need no Dolby system or chairs, no ceiling or 3D. You don’t have to pay 30,000 euros to show a blockbuster. It is important to use your head and wake up. Here, merchants have the last word on everything, and I understand that. Someone bought it and wants to sell it. The question is why was this allowed,” he says.

Among the occupiers some are from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, but there are others, too. “There are volunteers, people who are there 24/7, graduated actors, one of the guys who came and joined this unofficial movement of sorts was accepted into the directing program this year. We have a self-taught actor, an undergraduate actor, a director; we have dentists and political scientists. We have different characters, profiles, and professions.”

“You let a building from 1903 be treated as a toilet. Birmingham has the oldest theater in the world that opened in 1907, and it is still in operation. This cinema of ours was court photographer Milan Jovanović’s studio. It was converted into a cinema in 1906. If it was open, we would have the oldest cinema theater in the world. But people don’t give a damn about it, and this is what shocks me. This cinema has potential: it can be a tourist spot, it can make money, it can be a monument...”

If a complete stranger came to Serbia and asked you what exactly is the occupied Zvezda cinema, what would be your answer?

To me, Zvezda means rebellion. Personal rebellion against the imposed. I’ve been having authority issues all my life, and group protests never felt right for me – probably for the same reasons. Unlike some colleagues who are attracted by the temporary hype and left the theater as soon as the media attention died down, I felt best in silence. What would I say to people who can help? And then I remembered all those who were here. Tsipras, Saša Radulović before the campaign... In essence, at one point this had a political potential that was useful to certain opportunists in their political careers. We weren’t so politically savvy or familiar with these methods and mechanisms, we were rejecting that.

Before one showing, one of your colleagues was talking about your struggle with the cinema’s neighbors. What is that about?

Just a few days ago we had an argument with one of them who lives on the corner and who was holding some sort of an anti-capitalism, semi-leftist exhibition when we moved in. The noise was allegedly bothering him, so he threw tomatoes, mason jars, and light bulbs at us... First, they threw tar on the entire screen, and then someone climbed up and cut the cables; a week before they stole an amplifier and a mixer... We gave up on complaining – we’re here, we’re trying to protect ourselves, but we will most certainly move forward.

There are also issues with power. What exactly is going on?

Someone is obviously stealing power from us, and I just can’t figure out who. We have three timers. We even had an electrician come – we turn off all of the lights, the timer keeps going, so someone is stealing power. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions. Maybe it’s the lady selling hats or some other person...

You’re taking a winter break. What then?

We’re on break during the whole winter, nothing will be happening until spring. We won’t leave, but the circumstances will change.

Change how?

We’ll see what we can do after the break. The legal situation is complicated, and there aren’t many of us.

Slobodan Maričić (@SlobodanMaricic)


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