A Serbian Court Case

The controversy surrounding Srdjan Spasojevic’s brutal pseudo noir A Serbian Film is refusing to go away. Even before it’s cinematic release last year there was several occasions when local councils and authorities had intervened in long standing film festivals to prevent the screening of the tabloid dubbed “sickest film ever made”. Fright Fest was one particular festival that, rather than falling foul of the local authorities and the British Board of Film Classification, pulled the title from it’s line up. There was several heated debates in the small realm of the Movie Bar, just to bring the matter close to home, which I co-programme along with a friend but we felt that the quality of the film plus the issues that might surround getting it to the screen ultimately could be more than the kudos were worth.

This decision has, as of Saturday 5th March 2011, left most programmers who passed on the film feeling more than slightly relieved as the Sitges Festival and it’s programmer Angel Sala have reportedly been charged with exhibiting child pornography which could lead to a sizable fine for the long standing festival and frighteningly a prison sentence and place on the sex offenders register for Sala.

The Spanish courts interpretation of the law is one that will be crucial for the future of film within the country and potentially mainland Europe as A Serbian Film is clearly a difficult film to watch, even more difficult to read but is clearly not child pornography. One can’t help feel that Sala and Sitges is being used to make a point for a stronger grasp on the creative reins and for increased censorship. Spain seems to be a country recoiling into itself and to old conservative ways. It’s barely been 33 years since Pedro Almodovar erupted on to the Spanish film scene with Fuck Me…Fuck Me…Fuck Me Tim! A film made because it could be rather than it needed to be, a film than was a clear knee jerk reaction to the end of Franco’s Spain and the beginning of a new world. Now one of Spain’s foremost programmers is on the brink of having their world destroyed in the name of censorship.

A Serbian Film was indeed a brutal film but was born out of a brutal period of time and is no worse than The Life and Death of a Porno Gang and is all a part of a countries exploration of it’s damaged psychological state as an attempt to confront and heal. It was a depiction of the abuse felt by those who were unfortunate enough to have been randomly picked through birth to be in the wrong place at the wrong time but is it child porn? No more than Larry Clark’s Kids and nobody’s arrested Harvey Weinstein.

Julio Sanchez has set up a group to support Angel Sala and is available for you voice your views and support of Sala and the Sitges Festival.


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