Serbia’s First Feature Film

Život i dela besmtrnog vožda Karađorđa
(The Life and Deeds of the Immortal Vožd Karađorđe)
R: Ilija Stanojević. B: Ćira Manok, Ilija Stanojević. K: Louis de Beéry. D: Milorad Petrović, Ilija Stanojević, Sava Todorović, Dragoljub Sotirović, Vukosava Jurković, Dobrica Milutinović, Aleksandar Milojević. P: Pathé-Frères / Svetozar Botorić. Kingdom of Serbia / Fr 1911
Engl. subtitles

“The Life and Deeds of the Immortal Vožd Karađorđe is a 1911 silent film which was the first feature-length motion picture made in Serbia and the Balkans. Directed by Ilija Stanojević, who also acted in it, the film depicts the life of early 19th-century Serbian revolutionary Karađorđe Petrović, portrayed by stage actor Milorad Petrović. Filmed in August and September 1911, it was produced by film entrepreneur Svetozar Botorić and was based on several sources, including historical and biographical works, a play by Miloš Cvetić, and the Serbian folk poem ‘The Start of the Revolt Against the Dahias’. The film had its premiere in Belgrade on 23 October 1911, where it was positively received. Re-released in 1925, the film was lost after being screened to a group of Serbian immigrants in the United States in 1928. It was considered a lost film until it was discovered by film historians Aleksandar Erdeljanović and Radoslav Zelenović in the Austrian Film Archives in Vienna on 16 July 2003. It has since been re-mastered and broadcast on Serbian television. (…)

The idea of creating a film about Karađorđe Petrović was that of Serbian film entrepreneur Svetozar Botorić, who opened the first regular theater in Belgrade in December 1908. Botorić became interested in filmmaking after seeing Charles Le Bargy and André Calmettes‘s 1908 film L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise, which drew on the narrative cinema genre. Botorić desired ‘to (re-)represent history in the new medium, recreating old myths in a way that was to characterise cinema’s first century’. However, he immediately encountered difficulties because cinema in early 20th-century Serbia was considered ‘mindless entertainment lacking any cultural value’. In order to address such criticism, Botorić sought to create a film based on an important historical event. Veteran actor Ilija Stanojević, with whom Botorić had worked previously, was selected to direct the film. Louis de Beéry, a cameraman who had previously filmed newsreels on Botorić’s behalf, was chosen as the film’s cinematographer.”

>>> L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise on this site: Film d’Art