Bastards of Utopia, a feature documentary about anarchists in Zagreb, Croatia, intimately portrays the lives of three young activists struggling to create a new leftism in a society that has moved dramatically rightward since its independence from socialist Yugoslavia in 1991. Read More
Drawing on two hundred hours of footage, Bastards of Utopia captures how these activists struggle to live according to their ethics in deeply inhospitable circumstances. This film is also part of a larger project of research into radical activism that tries to learn from activists’ practice and contribute to their struggle.
In the course of making Bastards of Utopia, we became acutely aware of the limits of traditional documentary form, especially as we imposed this form on our activist collaborators’ lives. While we solicited their feedback, the labor-intensive reality of postproduction resulted in a documentary that necessarily reflected our vision.
This process felt at odds with the non-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian values of our activist collaborators. Additionally, as we structured a clear narrative arc for the documentary, we found ourselves de-emphasizing the fact that militant protest was just one expression of their politics, no more important than, for example, everyday ways of securing food, clothing, and shelter for themselves.
Spurred by our lingering dissatisfaction, we set about adapting Bastards of Utopia to an interactive, remixable format. Bastards of Utopia: A Remixable Documentary aims to make available extensive footage from our archive, and also to encourage experimentation and reflection on documentary narrative. In a traditional linear documentary film, the sequencing of shots and scenes powerfully shape how the viewer understands causation, motivation, and the magnitude of individual statements and actions. This interactive format cedes some of that control to you.
The remixable documentary is composed of 69 video clips, each a variant of a scene or an outtake from the feature documentary. The video clips are divided into six major themes, or Tracks, and organized chronologically in each track. You can also explore more than thirty sub-themes using the video tags. You will also find additional context and guiding questions linked from many of the video clips. If you’re new to Bastards of Utopia, we recommend starting with the three-minute introductory video. This clip is the opening to the full-length film, and will help provide context. You will also want to meet the characters.