“I Put a Spell on You”, “Cement Belgrade” share BITEF Grand Prix

September 27, 2021 - 18:2

TEHRAN – Iran-Belgium production “I Put a Spell on You” and Serbian play “Cement Belgrade” have shared the Mira Trailovic Grand Prix at the Belgrade International Theatre Festival (BITEF).

The double edition of the 54th and 55th BITEF was organized from September 13 to 25 in the Serbian capital of Belgrade.

The pandemic forced the organizers to cancel the 54th edition in 2020, therefore they decided to organize the 54th and 55th editions together in 2021.

In “I Put a Spell on You” staged by Iranian director Ehsan Hemmat, three dancers from Iran, Belgium and Japan perform robotized and mutually alienated movements in a claustrophobically empty space. In cooperation with the supervision of the fourth “partner“, an active drone, this choreography articulates one of the main problems of the contemporary world, the one which keeps moving away from humanistic ideals and turning towards authoritarianism: technological and media control and manipulation. 

This performance, to the extent which was realistic this year, marks yet another important line in the concept of the BITEF, presenting and promoting artists from non-Western cultures, the organizers have said.

“Cement Belgrade“ is only inspired by Heiner Müller’s play “Cement”, while actually being an auteur project by the Slovenian director Sebastijan Horvat and the dramaturge Milan Ramšak Markovic, whose performance “Ali: Fear Eats Your Soul“ won three awards at the 53rd Bitef. 

The performance consists of two parts, clearly separated in terms of style, which, counterpointed, create a metaphorical warning that, once the ideals of a (youthful) revolution are betrayed, one ends up in spiritual, physical and moral degradation. 

Specifically, in the first part, young actors are observed vigorously dancing, like in a club, which, alongside revolutionary slogans and scenes of the crowds, develops the idea of many individual bodies giving birth to a collective one. In the second half, though, the play follows a sad realistic account of an aging and defeated married couple, where the images of the crowd remain the only trace of the glorious (revolutionary) past.

The Jovan Cirilov Special Prize was also given equally to the Croatian production “The Cherry Orchard in the Cherry Orchard” by Bobo Jelcic and the France-Germany production “Farm Fatale” by Philippe Quesne.

The Politika Award for best director went to Wim Vandekeybus for “Traces” and Bobo Jelcic for “The Cherry Orchard in the Cherry Orchard”.

The Serbian play “As If the End Were Not Quite Near” by Maja Pelevic and Nikola Zavišic won the audience award.

Photo: “I Put a Spell on You” by Iranian director Ehsan Hemmat. (Victoriano Moreno)


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