Film, since the famous pioneering works of the Lumière Brothers, provided one dimension that in the arts never existed prior to the invention of film - and that is time. However, for the first filmmakers it is something else, rather than time, that film enabled – it is the first medium that enabled the continuity of space.  While time is inevitably a focus of historical research on film, it is the space of film that is significant for theorizing film as history in the research on the early documentary film in Yugoslavia. The term ‘Yugoslavia’ signifies the community of South Slavs who for centuries shared the same geographical space before uniting into one state, the Kingdom of Serbs Croats and Slovenians in 1918, which in 1929 was renamed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. REFACE uses the term ‘Yugoslavia’ to denote both the state formed in 1918, and the geo-historical position of South Slavs. REFACE refers to this geo-cultural space as Yugoslavia since Yugoslavia literally denotes South Slavs who historically inhabited this area. REFACE often refers to the period between 1896 and 1918 also as to the ‘Cinema of South Slavs’ applicable to the early cinematic works that in their time were not yet systematized under ‘Yugoslav cinema’. In that sense REFACE already makes a shift from the dominant academic discourse which refers to this territory either as ‘former Yugoslavia’, ‘former Yugoslav successor states’, or as ‘the region’. The terminology REFACE uses will secure a more focused approach that attempts to escape the stereotypical conceptualizations of the territory, inhabited predominantly by South Slavs, which emerged at the end of the twentieth century.  It is important to bear in mind that although Yugoslavia as the state name appears in 1929, the film societies and production companies already bore that name in 1918. It is of great interest to examine how South Slavs used the medium of film prior to and after their unification and how film language embodied the history of those times.



Film and History


  • Can we read history from film?
  • How does it change / improve our understanding of the past?
  • Who is represented and how / what is left out?
  • Can we understand the historical context from the films?



Genre: Documentary film


  • Period: 1896 – 1939
  • Place: Yugoslav space
  • Documentary includes amateur films, short clips, home films…



Time Period: 1896 – 1939


  • Pre-WWI 1896-1914
  • Great War 1914-1918
  • From Kingdom to Yugoslavia 1918-1939



Focus: Ethnic and religious communities in the Yugoslav space


  • People of diverse ethnic-religious background
  • Religious customs and festivals / celebrations
  • Religious objects
  • The conceptions of religion and faith
  • War and Faith
  • Everyday life and Faith