Dunja Jelenkovic is a Marie SkłodowskaCurie Fellow at the University Ca’ Foscari of Venice. A scholar working primarily on film festivals and relations between documentary images, history and memory, she holds a PhD in cultural history from the University Paris Saclay (2017) and has published extensively on cultural programming, cultural practices and identity in the Yugoslav, post-Yugoslav and European context of the 20th and 21st century. 

Her current research “The Cinematic Battle for the Adriatic: Films, Frontiers and the Trieste Crisis(CBA TRIESTE), deals with the Italian and Yugoslav cinematic practices related to the Trieste Crisis (1945-1954). The project is funded through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie SkłodowskaCurie grant agreement No 101020692 (MSCA-IF-GF). 

This work builds on her doctoral thesis which focused on the Yugoslav Documentary and Short Film Festival (1954-2004), exploring the evolution of its programming from the festival’s early socialist years, throughout the wars of the 1990s, until the end of its Yugoslav era in 2004. The research received funding from the French Foundation for Heritage Science PATRIMA.

Dunja is fluent in French, English and Serbo-Croatian, and can read Italian, as well as South Slavic languages (Slovenian, Macedonian) and Scandinavian languages (Norwegian, Danish, Swedish). 

Main research interests: film festivals, cultural programming, cultural history, 20th and 21st century, (post)Yugoslav space. 

Main skills: archival research, qualitative analysis, writing, teaching, communicating. 

My academic work has been largely shaped by my personal, transnational, experience and the duality of my professional background, which has involved me regularly traversing industry and academia. My view is that media and culture scholarship is at its strongest when its theoretical insights are informed and enlightened by practice in the field. My experience in communicating with non-academic audiences has influenced my methodological approach to researching my central focus of concern: political aspects of cultural and film festival programming in the context of ongoing turbulence, conflict and war. 

I was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1981, and as a teenager I joined the city radio station Studio B (1996), and its show Prekobrojni čas [Overtime Class], a unique kind of programme prepared by high-school students for their peers. Prekobrojni čas represented an important formative experience and my first step into the observation and analysis of cultural programmes. I was a member of the station’s last generation of trainees – during the NATO bombing of 1999, the show was stopped and never fully resumed. Throughout the 2000s, I collaborated with various Belgrade-based print and electronic media (B92, Index, Yellow Cab, Ludus) publishing stories on art and culture. After years of media coverage of various cultural events I wanted to explore what it was like to be working in the field of cultural management, among the people who were producing the events I was reporting on. In 2007 I briefly collaborated with the Paris-based avantgarde film label RE:VOIR, led by filmmaker Pip Chodorov, who inspired me to start writing about film festivals. At about the same time I started working for the Belgrade (Yugoslav) Documentary and Short Film Festival as international programme coordinator. Both my MA dissertations, in cultural management (University of Arts, Belgrade/Université Lumière Lyon 2, 2008), and in cultural history (Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yveliens, 2012) focused on this festival, which would also become the subject of my PhD thesis. Settling in France full time widely opened the doors of international intellectual exchanges: I completed my PhD training in cultural history, gained teaching experience (University Paris Saclay, 2012-2017) and started publishing and participating in academic events throughout Europe. 

These experiences have shaped both my interests as a researcher and my identity. My personal library is plurilingual, I write in English, French and Serbo-Croatian, and hold a dual citizenship, French and Serbian. This plurilingualism and transnationalism is enabling me to view complex geopolitical processes through what I hope is a more inclusive lens, in turn, fostering a more empathetic understandings of multiple cultural and political perspectives in contemporary Europe.  

Dunja Jelenkovic