The Slovenia Times

Pankrti's Dolgcajt: A Quarter Century Later



In 1980 Ljubljana seemed like an extremely boring place for the period's youth, who wanted to channel their creative energy into something besides being good students and then joining the one and only working class. Society at the time was pretty uniform, with a relatively good living standard. Sick of the established lifestyle, which had very little variety, the youth took their destiny into their own hands and embraced the musical style that had erupted on the Island in the late seventies. The launch was called Dolgcajt (a sort of slang translation of "boredom"), the first Slovenian punk-rock long-play album by Pankrti (bastards), 36 minutes and six seconds of wild music with fierce lyrics. Nowadays it represents a unique reminder of those times. Its symbolical value is that it went beyond the boundaries of artistic expression and pushed the limits of the freedom of speech, especially when it came to criticizing the dissolving Yugoslav socialist society. A quarter century later, it seems an appropriate occasion to look back on those times and revisit them through archival film material and stories from people themselves. Similar to Croatian Igor Mirkovic, who made a film homage to the outburst of punk rock in Croatia (Sretno Dijete - The Happy Child, 2004), director Igor Zupe, with scriptwriters Igor Basin and Barbra Kelbl, also decided to revisit "the golden age." Zupe's project went even further, though, inventing a unique form to tell the story of Pankrti's first album. The project is called Music is a timely art I: Long Play film Pankrti - Dolgcajt. It actually represents a sort of real-time LP documentary with an original album sound and variegated video material, which features 2232 cuts, hours of recorded footage and constant voice-overs from the people who were involved in the scene. Above all, the narrative is linked by the story of Marin Rosic, a man who was fifteen-years-old when Pankrti's album was launched, and who has remained a loyal fan until today. The whole project took over six months and is, as the title suggests, the first of a series where a perception of a musical recording is translated to film. Igor Zupe has announced four more such documentaries based on other key musical albums, such as Tomaz Pengov's Odpotovanja or Marko Brecelj's Cocktail... When punk was alive Punk emerged in Slovenia, on October 18th 1977, when Pankrti held their first concert at the Moste High School. Everything was in accordance with the punk philosophy - an obscure gymnasium, no posters and no commercial content. Nothing was ever the same after that gig. The young generation became aware of their problems and soon made their existence widely known. Ljubljana, covered with punk graffiti, became the most important centre of alternative rock music in the former Yugoslavia. Punks renamed one of Ljubljana's main squares as Johnny Rotten Square. But that was just the beginning. Punk also spread its progressive wings outside the capital, into smaller towns and villages - Idrija, Metlika, Trate, etc. Another milestone came in 1980, when all the energy was to transfer to the Novi Rock festival, which was supported by Radio Student, an influential player in the whole punk movement. The festival presented the cream of progressive bands from republics throughout the former Yugoslavia. While Pankrti mirrored the English punk experience, many other innovative groups, such as Via Ofenziva, Grupa 92, Berlinski zid, and Otroci socializma delivered original music and controversial lyrics. It caused more than a ripple of moral panic in Slovenia's social and cultural circles. Many people (with the probable exception of the current foreign minister, Dimitrij Rupel, who at that time was keen to express his disdain for punk songs) agree that the disobedient kids who called themselves punks represented the first wave of attacks that caused the political changes that followed. Some would even claim that Pankrti were the most influential punk band in Europe outside Great Britain. Among the youth who identified with the punk movement, some were highly interested in understanding the society and had the guts to comment on and dare to change it. For many others, it was of course just a way to channel their excess energy and find a way of being different. The response by the authorities was often quite fierce as well, especially after the politician France Popit made it official that punkers "spit on the achievements of socialism." The police, of course, were keen to exercise their authority over young punks. The police violence was justified and supported by some journalists (mostly from Nedeljski dnevnik) by pointing to the political nature of the event, exemplified by the name of one of the bands who appeared before Laibach - the Cetrti rajh (the Fourth Reich). This of course didn't prevent the youth from rebelling, or the intellectuals from involving punk in academic debates. Nevertheless, punk survived. A number of albums - Novi punk val 78-80 (New punk Wave), Lepo je v nasi domovini biti mlad (It's wonderful to be young in our homeland; 1984) - and books - 1984's anthology Punk pod Slovenci (Punk under Slovenes) and Punk je bil prej (Punk was earlier; 2003) captured the movement. Punk was later transformed into other artistic forms, such as progressive music, fine arts, theatre, etc. It is also evident that many of today's influential people, from journalists and intellectuals to managers and politicians in one way or another belonged to, or at least "flirted with," the punk movement. The documentary interviews convey the memories of the people who remain in the music business as well as those who chose to go elsewhere - for example there is one of today's leading managers, Matjaz Gantar, and also the ex-Pankrti songwriter and manager, sociologist Gregor Tomc, now a professor at the University of Ljubljana. Speaking of the punk generation and films, it is also worth recalling the 90's hit film "Outsider" by the ex-punk, Andrej Kosak, who also appears in the documentary. Kosak's film, which explores the common themes of young love and not fitting in, is also about the Ljubljana punks and is set in the same time period as the documentary. Inspiring times, indeed!


More from Nekategorizirano