Sog., Scen.: Aleksandar Petrović. F.: Tomislav Pinter. M.: Mirjana Mitić. Scgf.: Veljko Despotović. Mus.: Aleksandar Petrović. Int.: Bekim Fehmiu (Bora), Olivera Vučo (Lenče), Gordana Jovanović (Tisa), Velimir Bata Živojinović (Mirta), Mija Aleksić (Pavle), Rahela Ferari (Igumanija). Prod.: Avala Film. DCP. D.: 94’. Col.
The experience has taught me not to believe films that have what we call ‘messages’: that is why my last film Skupljači perja, after it is finished, personally does not tell me anything definite. For me, it is only a little bit of life, then, as in life itself, from this footage, we will be seized with all sorts of associations, a special and imagined understanding of the lives of the Gypsies from Vojvodina – the feather-gatherers. What is at the basis of all of this?
It is better for each of us to decide that as we watch the film. As far as I am concerned, as the film’s first spectator, it would be the nightmare of the dream and the reality in which my heroes, Gypsies, have constantly lived in for centuries; and that is certainly why I have chosen this theme. These men live a life of art; their tragic and indefinite/unfinished attitude towards life is similar to the attitude of the arts and life itself! Because, at the margins of society, always on the search for something, they touch the absolute! And right away, right next to them appears the mystery of death that, for these feather-gatherers, is at the origin of their special attitude towards religion; they are neither for nor against religion. For Gypsies, religion is a part of life: majestic and terrifying, sweet and sour, seductive and vindictive, free and intoxicating, as this film wants to show it.
The violent bursts of colour, the shots of old wrinkled women smoking cigars, the explosion of dance and music when the night falls on the drowning landscape, the full taverns, the public and private screaming quarrels, the vividness of an old monk who sells the sheets from his mattress, the crazy and stubborn flock of geese among the multicoloured symphony of cottages, here is the poetry of appearances. Petrović’s bias, if there is really a bias, is in his way of capturing certain faces ‘in flight’, certain attitudes that we find. Trying to surprise a man at the peak of his efforts, of his cruelty, a woman at the peak of her distress, attempting to combine the rhythm of a dispute, the crescendo of a fight, this is his goal. Petrović hasn’t cheated: at no point does the audience feel like a voyeur. The material success hasn’t killed the life of this film: he has therefore won.
Jean-Loup Passek, “Jeune Cinéma”, 24, July 1967