—an audiovisual essay on the Dragačevski Sabor in Guča – an exploration of folk music and its socio-political context in Serbia.
Guča is a sleepy village in Southeastern Europe. Guča is also the world capital of trumpet music. It is located about three and a half hours south of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia-Montenegro. The Dragačevo region around Guča is often referred to as the ‘Small Swiss’, less because it is known for political neutrality than for its scenic setting. It is said that former president Tito intentionally forgot to develop the agricultural area, as it hosted too many royalists hostile to a communist Yugoslavia.
Guča itself is situated in a small valley embedded in a circle of rolling hills and is made up of two main roads, a couple of street cafés, a small ramshackle stadium, a church, a gas station and some hundred dwellings.
As we are talking of the Balkans, where facts flirt with fiction, figures vary drastically. At least one can say that Guča is home to 2000 to 3000 people and is being swamped by 200.000 to 1 million music lovers every year who rave in a three day orgy with drinking, dancing and brass band tunes. (…)
‘The most exciting thing about the history of the festival is that a political speech has never taken place on the stage of Guča’ claims lead trumpeter Dragan Lazovic. Still the complexities of Serbian culture, society and politics are everywhere – in the streets, the tents, the stadium, in front of the bands and within the music.
Slideshow with stereophonic sound, accompanied by a newspaper publication.
Photography: Michael Heilgemeir and Mo Hoffmann
Field Recordings: Mo Hoffmann
Text: Jessica Schallock