Synchronicities, or beyond the Feature: The Judge
by Zaneta Vangeli
“The Judge”, treated by the young director Vlad Freeborg primarily as a metaphor for Satan was the central motif that he used as the point of departure for the creation of his first narrative feature. His film is an attempt to go beyond the dualism of the established social system of values, with all its qualities and deviations, more often than not also in the form of “political correctness”. Completely aware of the fact that the Un-Holy One, Diabolo, the Sheytan... are personifications of the human ego and its unconsciousness, he rushes into the vague adventure known as the ‘low-budget independent film’ with enormous enthusiasm, and that in one of the countries of the Western Balkans, where the control over entropy is very far from ambition, partly due to the deadening silence of inertia and conformism, partly due to the irrational, mystical absence of expressed own will...

This is one of the ways to sublimate the complex story about the multi-layered contemporary portrait of so-called evil. But for several reasons, and one of them is the avoidance of tautologies, another approach is possible, which functions as a negative in relation to the story - positive.

The conclusion, that simulation is a dangerous game, simply nothing but playing with fire, is just one of the markers of postmodernism. But the quality of experience brings with it a special fascination from that newly created FACT, which can be simply categorized as synchronicity or accident, avoiding the falling into the trap of..., we already know what. The synchronicity between reality and fiction builds a new story, and its hyper-dynamism, compression and especially interactivity, made it impossible to incorporate it fully into the fiction itself. From time to time fragments of reality try to point out that the fiction is not completely artificial, but partially “taken over”.

Deconstruction, or the role of the ready-made

The “biography” of the movie is followed by an expansion, i.e. branching of the rhizome of the story. This is one of the most attractive characteristics of low-budget independent productions: spontaneity in creation. Of course, it has its price, but it functions.

Significant for the process of making this complex project shot on locations in Macedonia, Germany and USA is the ready-made principle, realized on several levels.

The first level can be designated as the “object” level. The low budget determined the use in the production, in most of the cases, of completely ready-made ambients or scenographies, ready-made costumes etc.

On the level of “synchronicity” several significant, impressive events were incorporated, which were not possible to ignore because of their dominant character, and which in the same time coincided with the interest of the director Vlad Freeborg in the “last times” of the Revelation of St. John. Those were the “Fourth” and the “Fifth Balkan War”, i.e. the ones in Yugoslavia 1999 and Macedonia 2001 - until than called the “Oasis of Peace”. They occurred synchronically with the process of post-production. Due to the fact that reality is always much faster and more efficient than any fiction, the project could never become absolutely “up-dated”.

“God is not the creator of death...” (1.1. Moses)

The third level of the ready-made principle practiced in this experimental feature culminates on the “personality” level, which was realized through the direct engagement of over 15 individuals, who performed their real “roles”, i.e. they appeared as themselves. This pop-artistic approach enabled the evocation of maximal authenticity of the characters, and at the same time the portrayal of the underground scene, especially in Skopje.

Sudijata / The Judge

Experimental feature (director's first film)
Betacam SP, 102 min.
Macedonia/Germany 2001 (first screening Sept. 2002)

Short Synopsis

"The Judge" is an experimental narrative feature, which self-referential story is about a young director, making his first movie called "The Judge". His movie is in fact a portrait of the devil (Satan, the Un-Holy One...), a very unconventional portrait of a contemporary personification of the "evil", very much interested into art and politics. During the process of production and postproduction of his movie, Vlad Freeborg, the director, is facing some temptations, which are in a mysterious way synchrone with the events in the outside world... His first feature is an attempt for a non-dualistic, yet deconstructive treatment of the social values, legitimately established as "ethics", with all its deviations, not seldom in the form of the political correctness. One of the most significant and at the same time paradox reflections of the devil himself is that " fact there is no Chosen People, there is no Conspiracy, but only a simple projection of the ego..."

Macedonian Television
Achim Ehlert
Zaneta Vangeli

This film was realized with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Macedonia

Written and directed by
Žaneta Vangeli

Festival Participation
World Premiere:

59.Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica, Section: New Territories, Venice, 2002

Other Festivals:
Panoramica 2002, Milan (Selection from the 59.Mostra), 2002
Venezia á Roma, Rome (Selection from the 59.Mostra, 2002
43rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Section: Balkan Survey, Thessaloniki, 2003
Blood & Honey, Museum of Contemporary Art, Essl Collection, Vienna (curator: Harald Szeemann), 2003
Mobius Art Center, Boston, 2003
FRAG. Evos Arts Institute, Lowell, USA, 2003
Filmfest Munich, Section: World Cinema, Munich, 2003
In den Schluchten des Balkan, Museum Fridericianum, Kassel (curator: Renè Block), 2003
Portobello Film Festival, London, 2003
Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt/M., 2003
Kunstfilmbiennale, Koeln, 2003
Eurovideo, Malaga, 2003
Alternative Film & Video Festival, Belgrade (Prize for significant achievement), 2003
International Art Expo Mexico 2004, Mexico, 2004
Jeune Creation, Grand Halle de la Villete, Paris, 2004
Politically Incorrect Film Festival, Ljubljana, 2004
Cetinje Biennale, Cetinje, Dubrovnik, Tirana, 2004
Cooperations, Bank Art Gallery 1929, Yokohama, 2004
NonStop Madrid 05, Madrid, 2005
Kunstfilmbiennale, South American Show, South America (Sept. 2004 from Sao Paulo, until April 2005 Buenos Aires)
Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival, Section: German Films, Kunstfilmbiennale 4, Rio de Janeiro, 2004
7th Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival, Section: Films by Artists, Buenos Aires, 2005
ArteCinemaArte, Museu da Imagem e do Som, Sao Paulo, 2004/5, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Santiago de Chile, Lima, Bogota, Montevideo, and La Paz
Serious Interests Agency, London, 2006
Skopje International Film Festival, Skopje, 2006