Belgrade’s Cultural Opportunities

It is one of the things I most appreciate about life in Belgrade are the boundless opportunities to enjoy the fine arts and cultural and intellectual stimulation. Belgrade is a city with high percentage of “cultural elite.” There are loads of book stores, lectures, art exhibitions, music concerts, theater, etc. that one can experience.

Last weekend we attended a performance of the Belgrade Philharmonic. Nadia and I are season ticket holders and I’ve blogged on them before. The video above is a snippet of the Russian composer, Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” It was originally a piano piece, but Ravel expanded it to an orchestral work. While listening, I couldn’t remember where I heard it before. Nadia reminded me of the “Baby Einstein” video series. Yes! Mussorgsky wrote it shortly after the death of a good artistic friend. He went to an exhibition of his works and was inspired to write this piece1874.

Last night I convinced Nadia to go see a film in the International Documentary Film Festival, “Bel Docs 2011.” The documentary film festival features international and Serbian films showing in various locations in the city for the next week. I would love to see many of them as I love documentary films, more so than regular movies. However, with three young children and a busy job, I have to pick and choose my spots. We got a babysitter last night and headed down to the Dom Omladine, one of the venues of the festival. The Dom Omladine, which means “youth center” in Serbian, is a government-owned building in downtown Belgrade that is a “center hat promotes programs for youth in the sphere of contemporary art and culture.” The building has been refurbished and we were impressed with the theater and lobby. I’ve made a link to the website on the blog because they hold many events.

We watched “An African Election” a film by Jarreth Merz. It is about the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana. We have family living there so it was interested to see the life there in Accra. I loved the character of Jerry Rawlings, who was the long-time dictator and president of Ghana. He ruled 12 years as a military dictator (’81-’92) and  another 8 years (’93-’01) as the elected president. His party lost power peacefully in ’01 and it was nice to hear of a change in power in Africa without violence. I won’t spoil the film’s ending, but his party ran again in 2008 and he played a big part in the campaign again.

I’ve always been interested in the lives of dictators. In the countries I’ve lived in or visited, there always seems to be a historical figure who ruled the country for a long time. It would make a great book – comparing the lives of various strongmen in different countries. I would have a section for how many people they killed, jailed, exiled, along with subjective biographies looking at things that are not usually covered in standard histories.

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