Serbian Orthodox Church in the nineties

  1. Lemma
  2. Srpska pravoslavna crkva devedesetih
  3. Serbian
  4. Without City and the Law (en)
  5. Stevanovic, Aleksandra
  6. Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Status of theology - Culture and national identities - Modes of interaction
  7. 31-1-2017
  8. Zlatic, Bogdan [Screenwriter]. Without City and the Law
  9. Without City and the Law
    1. Despotovic, Nedeljko
  10. Vidovic, Zarko - Communism - Media manipulation - Stojcevic, Gojko
  11. 31/07/2017
    1. Bez grada i bez zakona (Without City and the Law) is a 2001 documentary by Bogdan Zlatic, the scenarist and director and Nedeljko Despotovic, the director. It tracks the time of 1999 – war time in Serbia – turbulences and exodus of Serbian people from Kosovo province, representing a true hardship of Serbian Orthodox Church to perform its mission of unifying people in the era of political manipulation. At that time, Milosevic’s communist party (SPS – The Socialist Party of Serbia) was in power and the relationship of state with the Church was gradually declining.

      The plot of the documentary stems around the organization of the annual celebration of Saint Sava (celebrated on January 27th) at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Belgrade, with the blessing of Patriarch Pavle (the Serbian Patriarch from 1990 until 2009). The aim of the celebration was to send a strong message into the world so as to accentuate how important Church was, particularly in the time of war and of course to celebrate Saint Sava, the key person in the history of Serbian Orthodox Church. This initiated a number of problems and provoked a dilemma though– for instance, should Church cooperate with media or not?

      Therefore, along with the problems of the Church and its struggle to keep its role, the film opened a very important issue – media usage for the aims of Church. It also revealed strong media manipulation around Serbian Orthodox Church in the time around ‘90s in Serbia (under the reign of Slobodan Milosevic), that is, how information technology was used to manipulate the data, regardless of their religious or any other content or aim.  

      The documentary displayed the step-by-step process of film making, including different meetings of the organizers with archpriest prof. Radomir Popovic, Dean of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology and their encounters with other people and organizations, such as officials of the internet provider EUnet (formerly part of Karic’s business empire), associates of the Radio B-92 regarding radio transmission and representatives of the BK television concerning TV transmission of the celebration. However, despite the best intentions of the Church, the organizers were afraid to use media for broadcasting since they were aware of the media role in the corporative society and its not benevolent means of performing tasks. For the celebration organizers, it was a struggle to protect the nation’s heritage from different state’s tycoons, such as BK television which they turned to so as to seek help but which later did not fulfill its duty according to the contract.

      The film also displayed the rehearsals of the faculty choir and other preparations. Preparations of the material for the celebration is very significant because it provides with the information about essential facts how Serbian nation has been founded on the Church, that Hilandar Monastery has always represented the treasury of Serbian spirituality, which cannot be destroyed owing to wise efforts of Saint Sava. In that respect, internet is accentuated as media that should be used to store all the important data on Serbian nation and legacy of Saint Sava and Serbian Orthodox Church.  In addition, in the film, the opinion of archimandrite Tadej Vitovnicki, Zarko Vidovic – the most significant Christian thinker in Serbia, and even of Patriarch Pavle could be heard.

      The short conversation with archimandrite Tadej Vitovnicki was very significant because he revealed that there were agents inserted in the Faculty of Orthodox Theology between the two wars, sent to create the atheistic wing of Serbian Orthodox Church. In the documentary, it is also revealed that some priests were related to the company “Braca Karic” providing BK television with the right to television transmission of the religious affairs, which then obscures the truth. The words of the archimandrite proved to be true. Although eventually the celebration was organized, the BK TV destroyed the video material.

      The author of the movie finally concludes that first what we should use media and internet for is Church. On the internet, according to the author, we should put our beloved ones. Among them Church should be the first.

      This documentary is very significant in two aspects. First, it reveals the position of Orthodox Church during communist regime and later, the truth-obscurity. Second, it opens a very important issue of the correlation between Church and information technology.