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Future Yugoslavia — Experimental Documentary on Balkans

Author: Hana Tiro

Future Yugoslavia is a YouTube channel intended to share and discuss different documentary, border-documentary and regular non-documentary original TV series and shows created by Kaja Šišmanović and Matija Hajdarhodžić. Fourteen series, projects of all kinds, are scheduled to air on the channel.

"Real documentary series (the ones you have to watch in a particular order) are almost an obscure format, particularly on YouTube, but we believe, predict even, a bright future for the format, again; particularly on YouTube! Everything we publish is neatly subtitled in English."

Saša Zinaja/NFoto

Would you tell us something about yourselves?

Kaja: I'm 27 years old, although I feel (and look) much younger, like I'm still not a grown up. That makes my life fun but a bit hard, like I still don't have the means to accomplish the things I want. I studied film direction, but ended up living off of acting, which is much easier to get paid for, in Croatia, at least. I've lived my whole life in Zagreb and now I'm getting quite sick of it, makes me sad and angry seeing so much unused potential in my beautiful hometown. I would like to develop my music skills more, I find very much joy in playing any instrument except the violin, for which I went to school, an also would like to gain some courage to start singing more freely. I love watching movies, I do often fall asleep before they end (I heard that's not so uncommon for girls, don't know why), but never if I get really hypnothized by them. I would like to write about films, but rarely I find time, I would love to direct stuff with some budget, I would like to push my philosophy/physics theories to a level higher than just scribbling some oneiric ideas.

Matija: I’m searching for more in life than life itself. Maybe not particularly active at the moment, but never forgot the search. That and trying to do stuff other people don’t, like Future Yugoslavia.

When and how did you come up with the idea for „Future Yugoslavia“?

Kaja: 'Future Yugoslavia' as a syntagm was just a wordplay, those two words are almost antonyms – Yugoslavia is forever a term relating to the past, so adding 'Future' to it was our joke. We came up with it many years ago, so when we opened our google account, we randomly named it that. Only last spring we got the idea for a Youtube channel, we were stuck at home because of the pandemic, bored and itchy to work on something, so we agreed to edit all the footage that was sleeping on our hard drives and publish it by ourselves, after many failed attempts that included production houses and televisions. We already had that google account from many years ago, so we used it, and the legend of FTY was born J In the meantime, it turned out nothing is accidental (as it usually does turn out), so the name and the substance of the channel aligned so good and created so much more meaning than we ever could imagine.

Matija: It was occurring gradually. First came the name. It was such a cool, significant and unused name we knew we had to do something under it. Then corona came, made us be home, have time, look at the old hard drives full of documentary material. Documentary series! That was the conclusion, Future Yugoslavia a perfect fit, particularly since the first series we chose to do was a travelogue through that same still existing, non ex Yugoslavia, even talking about it within the series.

First episode of first series

Kaja and Matija decided to make a film about the refugee wave for which it would be necessary to travel at least to Greece. But Matija was in Dubrovnik and Kaja in Šid so they decided to meet in Sarajevo and start their trip from there. In Sarajevo they ended up in an apartment rented by five guys. One of them, Raif, decided to join them in their endeavour. Raif never traveled before, he'd never seen the sea, he'd never rode the train. They created the crowdfunding campaign the same day and set to take the 2PM bus to Podgorica tomorrow afternoon. The next morning Raif went to his hometown Olovo to pick up some stuff. They were supposed to meet at noon at a cafe where his brother Semir works. But Raif was an hour and a half late so there was no chance to get that bus. Raif also changed his mind about leaving today, he now plans to stay for a couple days more to get some money and then race alone to catch up with them... Like that would work. What now?

Although pandemic struck us, you kept working actively and producing your creative plans. How did you manage to keep it going?

Kaja: As I said, pandemic was the reason for our productiveness, we did not want to spend it just getting high and drinking coca cola, in it we saw our chance for dedicated work with no outside world distractions.

Matija: Oh but, as I just said, we only started it during corona. The real question here is will we manage to keep working on it after the pandemic finishes… But we will! Besides, both series we aired so far were shot long long before all that and so is the one we plan to air next, so real ‘shoot and edit’ production is yet to be seen.

You tackle social constructs, talk about injustice, dive into the undergrounds, the less known parts of the society. Do you ever feel unsafe on your missions? How do you return to everyday life?

Kaja: This might sound cheesy, but I never feel unsafe with Matija by my side. We've been together for seven years now and we had quite a lot of adventures, most of which weren't even filmed! I always had a passion, longing even, for an exciting, hazardous way of life, since I was little, so our missions bring me excitement, mostly. Even in some dangerous situations, I'm confident we'll get out of them, the question is only how. It's a bit like playing a video game for me. And our everyday life is often quite adventurous, we have no daily jobs, often no place to live either, so our survival is always a strategy.

Matija: Everyday life is a mission! No way back, only forward.

First episode of second series

"ESTRAGON: What did we do yesterday? VLADIMIR: What did we do yesterday? ESTRAGON: Yes. VLADIMIR: Why... Nothing is certain when you're about. ESTRAGON: In my opinion we were here."

You traveled a lot this summer, mostly through Balkans. Any awards, festivals, shows you'd like to highlight and talk about?

Kaja: We had a good summer, shot a documentary film that has to do with traveling and Balkans and festivities.... But don't want to spoil it, it's gonna be finished and out hopefully this winter.

Matija: Nope. We were shooting something I can’t talk about without containing spoilers.

What are your plans for the future?

Kaja: We have many, many plans, so many that we have work to do for some 30 years.... Those are mostly movie plans, but we also plan to tackle science and politics.... In the end, we would be happy to have a complete universe created by the two of us.

Matija: Ah! The future is so long… There are fourteen series on our program so far, you can find the full list both on our Facebook and on our Instagram. Since they are getting more and more expensive we plan to crowd fund them after the third one. Also, get ready for our music production! We will open a second, film channel when we reach 5000 subscribers on Future Yugoslavia.

Follow Future Yugoslavia on Instagram.

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