Bastards of Utopia delves into utopic struggles
Recently, Colby’s own Maple Razsa joined forces with Pancho Velez to create the documentary Bastards of Utopia. Razsa is an Assistant Professor of International Studies and the Associate Director of the Oak Institute for the Study of International Human Rights. Velez, a director, documentary filmmaker, and Harvard University filmmaking professor, has had his work shown at Silverdocs, the Rappahannock Independent Film Festival (RIFF), and the Telluride Indiefest among other film screenings.
Both Velez and Razsa set out to document the grassroots, anti-authoritarian movement originating with the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, as well as the effects the collapse of socialism has had in Croatia. Razsa has traveled to Croatia on three different occasions, establishing lasting friendships with the film’s main characters. Throughout the film, Razsa’s passion on the subject becomes apparent to the viewer: he truly incorporates himself into the group of young anarchists as an active member throughout the film. This dedication and immersion propels the film forward as Razsa and Velez delve deeper in the movement and the participants who keep it alive.
Bastards of Utopia offers a refreshingly authentic perspective into the ideologies and motivations adopted by a group of young Croatian activists who reject traditional governmental authority. Through the combination of observation and fieldwork, Razsa effectively documents the emotional, mental and physical struggles fueling the efforts of the group of rebellious anarchists.
These rebels are, in a sense, living their politics by rejecting capitalism, ignoring authority and fighting for a new government. They live in a state of poverty, yet their lack of money is irrelevant to them, as they are satiated by their dreams for a reformed future for Croatia. Life in the rebel group is all about scheming, dreaming and attempting to execute their plans as best they can with the few resources they have at their disposal.
Bastards of Utopia documents the ups and downs of this movement, following this group as they organize riots, squat in buildings and attempt to broadcast their cause. Although the rebels fail to make any impact in formal policy changes, Razsa’s account of their journey is undeniably gripping.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this film is its sincere attempt to record the day-to-day lives of these Croatian rebels–an invigorating departure from films riddled with special effects and complex over-editing. Razsa’s unadulterated imagery has no ulterior motives or underlying message, and he remains truly dedicated to providing a raw, unassuming perspective.
Through documenting candid interviews, spontaneous interactions and angry confrontations, he is able to expose the fragile balance between targeted rioting and utter chaos.