The censors indicated to the last judgment of our reality

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) expresses its regret that the Capital City of Podgorica restricted the right to artistic expression to the director Zlatko Paković, through the cancellation of support for the final realization of the play “Pier Paolo Pasolini directs the Last Judgment“. Such approaches do not contribute to the Europeanization of Montenegrin society, whose integral part is critical reflection, intellectual and artistic provocation that puts the decision-makers and their work under scrutiny. At the same time, we express our regret that the competent Ministry of Culture and Media, which co-financed this project, did not stand for this artist, thereby contributing to the limitation of the freedom of artistic expression.

The performance “Pier Paolo Pasolini directs the Last Judgment”, by author and director Zlatko Paković, was supposed to premiere on 3 October in Podgorica, in the KIC “Budo Tomović”, in production of the Secretariat for Culture of the Capital City of Podgorica and with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the Media. However, a few weeks earlier, cooperation with Paković was cancelled from the Capital City, although there was no basis for this in the contract he signed with the Capital City. From this, it can be concluded that the content of the performance was assessed as a problem by the officials in the Capital City. This is also confirmed in the order to suspend work on the performance, handed to Paković at the beginning of September, which states that “The ordering side does not consider the content of the drama text to be adequate for the goals and values that the ordering side promotes.” However, Paković never received an explanation of what those goals and values the work on that performance deviated from.

Apart from the fact that Paković’s cooperation was cancelled in that manner, the Capital City did not fulfil its contractual obligations towards him even after a significant passage of time, which gives an impression that this is a further attempt to put undue pressure on the author, who is regionally recognized for his intriguing expression in addressing key topics of everyday life of the regions or individual countries where he worked.

The CCE, in accordance with its commitment to support freedom of expression, observed this case closely and was in communication with the author, assessing that the artist’s right to authentic expression must not be subject to censorship.

The CCE uses this opportunity to point out that the case Paković illustrates the polarization in Montenegro and the immaturity of political structures to accept provocative and critical artistic expression if they feel that it threatens some of their specific interests. Therefore, today in Montenegro, Paković’s performance cannot find a public space where it would be played, as those who would give that space because they like the harsh criticism towards the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) in the play would not want it to have equally harsh criticism of the President of Montenegro and vice versa.

The theatre should be a place of freedom of artistic, engaged and political expression, implying also uncompromising criticism. Any type of influence, censorship or prohibition of such access by the authorities represents a deviation from democratic values, while the judgment of artistic achievements is given by the profession and the audience.

The CCE also hereby calls on the Capital City to fulfil its obligations towards Paković in full, and all those who hold on to their democracy and can secure a public space where the performance can be played, to secure that space. Otherwise, there will not be much difference between the censors in the Capital City, but also all those others in Montenegrin municipalities who remain closed to the possibility for the public to watch this play in the public space and make their judgment about it.

According to the latest announcements by the author and the ensemble, interested parties will be able to watch the playPier Paolo Pasolini directs The Last Judgment” online on 21 October, at 9 p.m., as a public final rehearsal.

Nikola Mirković, Programme associate