Balkan Spirit

Balkan Spirit

Premieres on ARTE July 10th 2013, 23:40h

Filmmaker Hermann Vaske and philosopher Slavoj Žižek take us along a rollercoaster ride through the creative world of the Balkans. “Balkan Spirit” is an exploration of the various facets of creativity: cultural, philosophical, political and artistic. Featuring world-renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic and actress Angelina Jolie, who chose the Balkan theme for her directorial debut. Musicians like Baba Zula, Goran Bregović and the Boban i Marko Marković Orchestra. YouTube artist Jelena Petosevic and legendary filmmakers like Dušan Makavejev. Directors as diverse as Jasmila Žbanić and Emir Kusturica. And scientists like Croatian astronomer Korado Korlević. Finally, representing young creatives we talked to artists like Flaka Haliti and Želimir Barić, as well as young directors like Eleni Angelopoulos and Maša Nešković.

Balkan Spirit Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie during her interview for Balkan Spirit.

All in all, Balkan Spirit shows that after decades of war and destruction, a new creative renaissance is happening in the region. The young creatives are doing their own thing and don’t want to be put in boxes. They are eager to destroy the outside views and prejudices of the West and find a new fresh creativity outside the box.

Marina Abramovic

Performance artist Marina Abramovic.

The Balkans is a European region that lives and breathes creativity. Despite the picture that the media presents, the Balkans offers the world a surprisingly fresh and passionate creativity.

Slavoj Zizek

Pop-philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

Slavoj Zizek

Greek director Eleni Angelopoulos.

Borders come and go but the creativity of the Balkans remains. Where are the roots of this fresh and radical creativity? How important is creativity in the Balkans in order to survive? How important is the art of improvisation to make something out of nothing? How does Balkan creativity in times of European crisis cope with Western views and prejudices?

Hermann Vaske and Baba Zula in Istanbul

Baba Zula’s Murat Ertel and Bahar Sarah with Hermann Vaske in Istanbul. Photographer: Lily Raeder

The film by director and producer Hermann Vaske premiered at the Istanbul International Film Festival and is broadcasted by Arte, the European Cultural Channel, on July 10th 2013, 23:40h.

Art Director Ana Zarubica during the shooting on the Skadar Lake in Montenegro

Art Director Ana Zarubica during the shooting on the Skadar Lake in Montenegro. Photographer: Olivera Papathoma

Hermann Vaske films Balkan Spirit sunset.

Hermann Vaske shooting Balkan Spirit sunset in the Durmitor mountains. Photographer: Olivera Papathoma

Interview with Slavoj Zizek

Slavoj Zizek, Hermann Vaske and Miona Bogovic during the interview. Photographer: Ana Zarubica

Creativity is a gesture of generosity and tolerance. In this sense, “Balkan Spirit” unifies and brings together the great creatives from the region.
As part of the Balkan Spirit Project ARTE held a video contest parallel to the creation of the Hermann Vaske’s documentary. Under the motto “What does Balkan Spirit mean to you?” Internet users had been called upon to put their ideas of the Balkans on film and present them in the form of a video with a maximum length of one minute. A jury composed of well-known artists, filmmakers and philosophers such as Marina Abramovic, Zelimir Baric and Ada Condeescu, selected twenty films which were then placed online for user voting. See the winners on Arte’s Balkan Spirit video website.

“Balkan Spirit” is dedicated to creative pioneer Dragan Sakan, initiator of Piran’s famous creative festival, who passed away in 2010.

Hermann Vaske and creative pioneer Dragan Sakan in Piran, Slovenia.

Hermann Vaske and creative pioneer Dragan Sakan in Piran, Slovenia. Photographer: Ana Zarubica



Project Credits

A Hermann Vaske Film

Produced by Hermann Vaske’s Emotional Network and ZDF/ Arte

Art Director:
Ana Zarubica
Patricia Lewandowska, Miona Bogovic, Alexandru Mavrodineanu, Daniel Tölke, Hermann Vaske
Production Assistants:
Lillian Hopkins Raeder, Timo Breidenbruch, Maike Backhaus
Bastian Ahrens, Stephan Krtsch, Vanessa Rossi
Commissioning Editor:
Sabine Bubeck-Paaz, Kathrin Brinkmann
Arte Germany Online:
Thomas Weiss, Katja Dünnebacke
Arte Creative:
Alain Bieber
Poster Art Direction:
Joanna Broda
Music Firestarter Videos:
Boban I Marko Markovic: Khelipe E. Cheasa
Hermann Vaske

Director/ Producer: Hermann Vaske


The movie “Balkan Spirit” is supported by the Cultural Film Fund of the State of Hesse (HFF-Land).


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Hermann Vaske Filmography