Cinematic Suicide: Representations of Working Women in Yugoslav New Film


  • Vesi Vuković PhD candidate at University of Antwerp



Yugoslav New Film, Novi film, socialism, representation, gender, female characters, employment, suicide.


In this article, I investigate representations of suicide committed by working female protagonists in Yugoslav New Film. My research question concerns the reasons why female protagonists, potentially empowered through their involvement in the labour force, are eventually disempowered through their suicide in the studied films. Why does the female professional sphere tend to be cinematically portrayed  as either a source of peril due to sexual harassment, or a place of the most disappointing experiences ? These narratives contradict the socialist discourse of gender equality that encouraged Yugoslav women to seek employment. I look at two case studies from a critical feminist perspective formally analysing them through close reading. Ples v dežju/Dance in the Rain (Boštjan Hladnik, 1961, Yugoslavia) and Bube u glavi/Bats in the Belfry a.k.a. This Crazy World of Ours a.k.a. Bughouse (Miloš 'Miša' Radivojević, 1970, Yugoslavia) both belong to the Yugoslav New Film movement and share a theme of suicide committed by  a progressive, working female character, which motivated my choice. The directors render their progressive working heroines vulnerable by transforming  the strong women that they are into fragile ones, thus indirectly reflecting male masculinist hostility towards inclusion of women in the workforce. Ultimately, the portrayed suicides of progressive working heroines are a warning that a workplace is a dangerous milieu and consequently should be avoided.

Author Biography

Vesi Vuković, PhD candidate at University of Antwerp

Vesi Vuković is currently a PhD candidate in Film Studies and Visual Culture at University of Antwerp, Belgium, under the guidance of professor Philippe Meers. She is a member of ViDi (Visual and Digital Cultures Research Center) at University of Antwerp. She attained her master of arts at Kyoto University of Arts and Design, Japan and bachelor of arts at Academy of Arts Banja Luka, BIH. Currently she researches ex-Yugoslavian cinema and the representation of women in it.




How to Cite

Vuković, Vesi. 2019. “Cinematic Suicide: Representations of Working Women in Yugoslav New Film”. Apparatus. Film, Media and Digital Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe, no. 9 (December).




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