Interviewed in Zagreb on 3 August 2015
One of the films opening the 24th Croatian Film Days in April was Unknown Energies, Unidentified Emotions, a hybrid of animated, experimental, feature and genre film in found footage technique, with a radio phonic sound and of unexpected, almost 40-minute duration. The comment commonly heard in the backstage of the festival was the question why such a difficult film was being presented at the opening of that event, i.e. why not bow before the idea of a light, joyful, and vivacious opening night. What initially seemed like an unusual selection in the end proved to be justified: Unknown Energies, Unidentified Emotions won the best script and sound awards, in less than a month was shortlisted for Animafest, and a bit later at the Pula festival won the Vedran Šamanović Award, the recognition for innovative approach and expanding the cinematic expression.
Unknown Energies, Unidentified Emotions is co-authored by Dalibor Barić and Tomislav Babić, authors of script, camera and sound who, in working on this one part of the to-be omnibus on the Zagreb Genre Film Festival from the late 60s, intertwined their work to such an extent that it has become impossible to separate their respective contributions. While for Babić, primarily a musician and sound designer, this was a first step in the world of film directing, Barić counts Unknown Energies, Unidentified Emotions as one in a three-digit number of titles directed in his career. Last year he participated in multiple festivals with his previous title Amnesiac on the Beach, he has filled his Vimeo with dozens of early works and earned an exclusive retrospective at the Pop Montréal Festival, which was featured with high praise in the iconic Fangoria magazine. The influential film portal Senses of Cinema included him among top authors in 2014, and Ken Russell expressed the desire to pass on his lifetime achievement award to him. Festivals in Dresden, Oberhausen, and Paris, among dozens of others, included Barić in their selections, alongside Chris Marker and other innovative film authors. The first retrospective of Dalibor Barić’s work in Croatia took place in the Greta Gallery in December of 2013.
ORIS: How did the film Unknown Energies, Unidentified Emotions come to be and why is it that precisely the two of you were chosen to cover a part of the story on the fifth geff festival, which never took place.
Dalibor Barić: I received a call from the producer Vedran Šuvar who approached me with the idea of shooting a short experimental film of several minutes’ duration on that topic. I was offered a few titles, among other the theme of Antifilm, which seemed abstract, and this one seemed the most interesting as I wanted to include fragments of a story coming together in the very end. Quite frankly, this title reminded me of the album Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division. Before that I have never heard of geff, so I went looking for information and the only thing I found was a footnote that the 1971 program never took place. At that point I became intrigued. At the very start, I was thinking about a character from the Arthur Clarke series Mysterious World called Ted Serios, who was as popular as Uri Geller in the paranormal domain during the 1970s. He did mental photography and this popped up as the main idea. Similar to the Experimental Film Institute, but more in the Cronenberg-style sense, as film freed of its technological medium. I started from this cliché of an institute with investigators. In fact, to me experimental film is not unlike paranormal phenomena, also on the margins, but also much like mainstream cinematography. Telepathy, the paranormal and the relationship between foundations and institutes presented themselves as control maintenance mechanisms, something slowly entering the mainstream, just as parts of experimental film are slowly entering the classical narrative film, which is still visually and in all other ways subordinated to the story itself.