As a way of introducing you to some amazing people working in the fields of artist moving image, experimental film and alternative cinema, we have concocted a short questionnaire. Today we speak to film critic and collage-artist Nikola Gocić.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Nikola Gocić, and I’m an architect by profession, but a film critic and collagist by passion, as I like to say. This September, it will be ten years since I started promoting alternative cinema on my blog, NGboo Art. I’m also one of recent contributors to Film Panic magazine, and a frequent collaborator of EFS Publications.
2. What was the first film you remember seeing as a child?
Well, my earliest childhood memories are tied to Saturday-morning cartoons, such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and The Smurfs who happen to be my first source of inspiration – I still treasure an A4 notebook (with Cyndi Lauper on its cover) in which the 3 or 4-year old me was drawing these little blue creatures.
As for the features, I remember seeing The Valley of Gwangi as a part of the national TV’s so-called educational program, but I’ll have to mention a few more films that left a lasting impression on me as a kid – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which I still consider the best of Disney, then a gorgeous Russian fairy tale, The Scarlet Flower (1952), Ralph Bakshi’s Fire and Ice as the first piece of adult animation, Ridley Scott’s Legend with the inimitable and unrecognizable Tim Curry as Darkness, and Đorđe Kadijević’s wonderful horror Leptirica (The She-Butterfly) as the first traumatic ‘cinexperience’. Clash of the Titans (1981) was my initiation into the world of Greek mythology.
3. What was the last film you watched and what did you think of it?
The last film I watched is simultaneously my first encounter with the work of the Brazilian veteran Júlio Bressane, and that is his latest offering, Sedução da Carne – one of the most striking and idiosyncratic films I’ve seen in 2019 so far. This uncompromising, formally intriguing (mono)drama starts in a ‘documentary style’, only to turn into a completely different beast after the initial 13 minutes or so, in a ‘reality subjectivization + the fourth wall breaking’ twist. It boasts a sensual, uninhibited performance by Mariana Lima, and a myriad of wonderfully framed chiaroscuro shots involving the actress herself, a green parrot and pieces of raw meat which eventually come to life, bringing Jan Švankmajer to one’s mind. I must warn potential viewers, though, about the included archive footage displaying acts of animal cruelty – definitely not for the faint of heart.
4. How did you become interested in working with cinema/moving image?
Being a film critic, I’ve been mostly working ‘around’, rather than ‘with’ moving image (I’ll leave ‘with’ for the filmmakers), and it was David Lynch’s Lost Highway, I believe, that woke my interest in film as an art form, and led me on the hunt for weirder pieces of cinema. The inception of my blog is directly linked to Shūji Terayama’s opus – what a unique director he was!
5. Tell us about a film that has had a profound effect on you?
That would be Mamoru Oshii’s Angel’s Egg (originally, Tenshi no Tamago), which is, no doubt, one of the dreamiest, most personal and inspiring mysteries ever created. I still hope that an occasion will arise to experience its transcendental grandeur in a well-equipped cinema theater.
But, allow me to single out a couple of recent masterpieces as well – The Kingdom of Shadows by Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais (still yearning to see it on the big screen, along with In Search of the Exile), and Rouzbeh Rashidi’s Phantom Islands. No flattery and friendship favoritism here, these two have a remarkable effect on my collage art practice.
6. Favourite books about cinema/moving-image/filmmaking?
Honestly, I haven’t read many books about cinema – my self-teaching in writing on films is rooted in internet articles – and lately, unfortunately, I haven’t got much time to read. However, I can’t help but recommend three books from my recent memory – Više od istine (lit. Beyond the Truth) by Đorđe Kadijević and Dejan Ognjanović, Luminous Void: Experimental Film Society Documents edited by Rouzbeh Rashidi and Maximilan Le Cain, and Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch. The former is one of the most quotable pieces of non-fiction literature, brimming with insightful musings on various topics, including film, coming from the great mind of Mr Kadijević – a Serbian screenwriter, film director, art historian and critic whose erudition is boundless. Hopefully it gets translated at least to English some time in the near future.
7. What would be your dream double-bill, two films you’d love to see together on the big screen?
While I was still writing for Taste of Cinema, I once contributed an article titled 10 Great Dramas from the 21st Century You Might Not Have Seen in which I proposed another 10 films as companion pieces to each entry, so I’ll go for several double-bills, in ‘whatever crosses my mind’ order:
F.A. Brabec’s Wild Flowers & Tarsem Singh’s The Fall.
Takeshi Koike’s Redline & Milorad Krstić’s Ruben Brandt, Collector.
Philippe Garrel’s The Inner Scar & Sergio Caballero’s Finisterrae (or rather, Deseos by Rafael Corkidi).
Topos with Thief of Reality, both directed by Antouanetta Angelidi.
Any two shorts by Maya Deren.
I think that the aforementioned Sedução da Carne would get along pretty well with Rouzbeh Rashidi’s Luminous Void: Docudrama which I had the honor of seeing and reviewing before its world premiere… Oh, and I actually had the pleasure to experience Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress and Paprika in my hometown of Niš a few years ago. The screening conditions weren’t as great as these two anime deserve, but beggars can’t be choosers.
8. Which filmmaker/artist are you most obsessed with, the one whose work you return to again and again?
In my previous answers, I already revealed some of my favorite film- and animation-makers, so I’ll just add a few more to the list – Ruiz, Parajanov, Jodorowsky, Sokurov, Kubrick, Reiniger, Majewski…
9. What are you currently working on/what projects do you have coming up?
Currently, I’m working on the fifth piece of my ‘Dolor Brawler Omega’ collage series which parodies, yet pays a loving homage to fighting games (that I’m a huge fan of!) and, just like the great majority of my works, explores some of the most hidden recesses of the (subconscious) mind. I’d love to publish a collection of my film articles and an artbook containing a selection of my works, but at this point, both ideas seem closer to dreams than reality. Another solo exhibition is being considered and, who knows, I might get into the cut-out animation some day…