Andrej Zdravič, filmmaker and sound composer
Recipient of 2019 Badjura Lifetime Achievement Award
The President of the 2019 Metod Badjura Award jury is Varja Močnik, and her fellow jurors are Karpo Godina, Dušan Moravec, Aleš Pavlin, and Olga Toni.
Film is a wonderful art form, one that is highly complex yet artlessly straightforward when communicating with the audience. But despite the magic of the film expression, a phenomenon that can speak to the mind, senses and heart of anyone anywhere, the audience only rarely gets to see a film they can consider a complete work of art – where the boundaries between the featured elements are blurred, where the specific material aspects of its making transform into a unique mental, physical and metaphysical experience for the audience. Andrej Zdravič’s films often produce just that: an artistic experience without precedent or compare. It could even be said that his entire body of work is an integral whole, for despite the variety in terms of subject matter, manners of its treatment and the technical means used in the making, this body of work is a reflection of a certain worldview, the author’s unique sensibility in using audio-visual impulses to covey the pulsation or rhythm of life (be it nature, urban environments, or technology). Behind a complete work of art is a complete filmmaker with authority, Andrej Zdravič: inextricably bound to his matter and his artwork, he oversees all phases of its creation and all its seams. The life of Andrej Zdravič is a life dedicated to film. After early education in Ljubljana and Algiers, he studied Art History and Ethnology at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, developing a keen interest in photography and music. In 1973, he left for the United States to study film. He received his BA and MA degrees from the State University of New York/Buffalo, Center for Media Study, where his studies also included analogue sound synthesis and digital sampling. For five years, Zdravič lived and worked in the avant-garde film scene of New York City. In 1980, his desire to make a film about the ocean prompted him to move to San Francisco, where he stayed for the next 17 years. While living there, in addition to pursuing his own projects, he made a number of films on microsurgical transplantation and spent six years working for the San Francisco Exploratorium, the Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. Zdravič has taught cinema at the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee and the San Francisco State University, among others, and has been a visiting filmmaker at Stanford University, the Royal College of Art, Falmouth University, the Academy of Fine Arts, Ljubljana, etc. He received the 1999 Prešeren Fund Award for his film Riverglass – V steklu reke (1997), the Recognition of Important Works of Art from the University of Ljubljana (2006), and a number of other awards worldwide. His work has been recognised and discussed in several books on film theory, ecocriticism and philosophy. Zdravič represented Slovenia at the Venice Biennale 1999 and World EXPO ’98. His films have been screened in many standalone presentations and retrospectives across the U.S. and Europe (Anthology Film Archives, Centre Pompidou, Deutsches Filmmuseum, Cankarjev dom, The Slovenian Cinematheque…), broadcast on a number of TV channels (ZDF, RAISAT ART, ARTE, KCET Los Angeles…) and included in museum or gallery exhibitions and collections (ZKM Karlsurhe, MUSAC Léon, OCA Pavillion São Paulo, Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung Berlin…).
Since 1973, when he made his first film, Camera Dances, inspired during his visits to the Soča river and the Adriatic Sea by what he saw as a perpetual, eternal dance of nature, Andrej Zdravič has made almost 40 independent films and several video installations exploring the pulse of life and nature, its ever shifting energies and the spiritual dimensions of these primal phenomena in relation to the human being. His works are audio-visual compositions in which sound and image merge seamlessly, in no order of importance, into an inextricable language to make up a film that absorbs the audience completely, engrossing it, consuming it. Rather than manipulating the world around him, Zdravič attempts to convey to the audience, as precisely as possible, his very intimate experience of the environment he finds himself in and is (so immensely) fascinated by. His works mainly deal with natural phenomena, but whatever the environment he enters as a filmmaker (be it natural – a river, the ocean, the foot of a volcano, clouds; or urban – New York City neighbourhoods, an operating theatre, a jet cockpit), he enters it softly and quietly, his senses heightened to find the angles that could most accurately communicate the experience and energies of the space. While his films are complex works of art, Zdravič maintains that there is no mystery to his working process or his subject matter – and this is precisely why they carry the incredible power to give each spectator their own artistic experience. For the reason they are made, for the way they are made, and for their straightforward impact on the audience, Andrej Zdravič’s films are films at their purest.
Chair of the jury for the 2019 Badjura Award