Year of return: 2017
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW
MOVED TO CANADA
Vojin met his wife during a
two-months stay in Belgrade. He
came for a theatre project and after
his return to Canada, they decided to
commit to a long-distance
EXPLORING OPTIONS TO LIVE TOGETHER IN CANADA
After some time, his partner came to visit him for two weeks in
order to explore possibilities for moving in with him in Montreal. She
enjoyed it but was way too cold.
EXPANDING PROFESSIONAL NETWORK
Although he had developed a professional network during his
studies in Serbia, he started to intensify collaborations with Serbian
colleagues for about a year before moving back. More and more
opportunities were emerging as their collaborative projects were
getting financial support from both Serbia and Canada. There was a
possibility to support and empower more artists in Serbia to work on
exciting new projects.
Vojin was born in 1985 in Kragujevac, and now he lives in Belgrade. After graduating in directing in Serbia, he decided to move to Canada with his mother, living in Canada since 2005. Back when his mother moved there, there was an option for him and his sister to go with her, because at the time, they were minors. He didn’t think that a Canadian passport is something he would ever need, and after completing his studies he was very happy because his status was resolved on time. When he started for Canada, all he did was packed his suitcases and then he bought a one-way ticket. The very same thing happened when he returned to Serbia in 2017.
Ties to Serbia
During his life in Canada, he would visit Serbia every year – sometimes once a year sometimes twice. His work tied him to Serbia the most, he worked on plays in Kragujevac. He continually maintained contact with people in his line of work and would gladly co-operate on various projects in Serbia. He would often, while in Canada, work on, help with and edit for projects happening in Serbia. Vojin currently runs an animation studio with people with whom he was in constant contact.
Reasons for his return
He was introduced to his wife Gaga, during a visit to Serbia. After having met her, he had to return to Canada to work, so they spontaneously began a long distance relationship. Some time later, he returned to Serbia again for a month and within that time frame he started talking to her about her coming to Canada for 2 weeks, and maybe considering living in Canada. In talking to her he started thinking about him actually being the one to return to Serbia. What made him consider this was the fact that both their families live in Serbia – his in Kragujevac and hers in Leskovac. Friends and family, who he was always looking forward to seeing were in fact one of the major factors he even visited Serbia that often. Vojin has three sisters in Kragujevac who already have children of their own, so he wanted to be closer to them as well. Life in Serbia always appealed to him and he always had a sense of belonging when he was in Serbia.
Gaga already had a stable job then, stable income and a whole system of business that was developed, and Vojin’s job never depended geographically on one place – he could also work from Canada, Kragujevac, Belgrade. At the time, he was working on a musical in Kragujevac, and through that project he slowly started to return to Serbia. He was aware that he had nothing to lose, because as a Canadian citizen he would always have access to Canadian funds, which later helped him to establish cooperation between Serbia and Canada. The organization of the return to Serbia included the elaboration of the idea of establishing a studio. Vojin already had a plan to open a studio in Serbia, so he decided to implement the plan on his return to Serbia.
Impressions of Serbia
When he returned, the situation which got on his nerves was when the cab driver dropped him off at the wrong address, resulting in him having to walk for about 20 minutes to his final destination with two heavy suitcases. But, even with situations like this, Vojin officially registered a company called “To Blink Animation”, which in Canada is called “To Blink Studio”. In all Vojin’s documents, these are sister companies. This is how he managed to link his work in Canada to his work in Serbia. One of his impressions of Serbia was there is still a lot of open hostility to people dealing with culture. It appears to him that in Serbia being cultured is still considered an unnecessary luxury, and that people dealing with culture are characterized as lazy, time-wasting clowns who do nothing but play games all day. He thinks that this manner of thought, unfortunately, stems from our social milieu. On the other hand, he has met people in Serbia who, when they believe in something, have a lot more drive then people in Canada who are coddled by the system that works and one that doesn’t make them fight for things. What he didn’t like is that in Serbia people seem to be waiting for things to fall into their laps and do nothing but complain about a system that is not good all the while not doing anything to change their situation. He thinks this is highly narcissistic and infantile, because people in Serbia expect things to be given to them only because they presume to have deserved it. In addition to this he also noticed that people in Serbia are always fighting against something not for something. They hold a grudge and there is a lot of dissatisfaction and anger being expressed where it shouldn’t be. Vojin has forgotten that someone, completely unprovoked, can cuss you out in the street, since he had forgotten that people are unkind.
As far as administration is concerned, he has noticed that various committees and film centers function according to principles of anarchy that are typical of Serbia and that need to be eradicated. Other than this, he takes issue with the red tape in Serbia which is causing him difficulties. He has to have an account at the treasury which you can only access from the municipality in which the account was opened. If he wants to pay his employees’ salaries he has to go to Kragujevac to put his seal on the paperwork. The Treasury system is not linked even though it exists in Belgrade as well. In Belgrade all he can do is get an excerpt of his account. Because of this he has to put aside certain days of the month, simply to put a seal on a piece of paper. He thinks this is a waste of time and that the bureaucratic system must be reformed in order to function better. He also had difficulties with transactional errors – if there is a situation in which he made a wrong payment he then owed additional interest due to this error. The entire process takes up a lot of time and a great deal of money. As far as personal paperwork is concerned, ID and passport, there were no issues there, since he renewed his paperwork on time.
A mere month and a half after his return, he was already offered employment at the Academy he attended. One of the professors was retiring, so Vojin was now a TA. Upon his return he had no great qualms about his job, since all the time he was in Canada he maintained contact and cooperation with colleagues in Serbia. He did come across a problem with regards to film financing, since the Ministry of Finance sees the Ministry of Culture as some sort of statistical error. Three of the movies his studio worked on were created in cooperation with Canada, since budget approval conditions are better in Canada. Vojin wishes to employ artists on his projects who want to stay with the project for a longer period of time, not people who leave the country as soon as they see there is no profit in the Arts. With his team he already set in motion a competition for the development of feature length animation that is as of yet non-existent in Serbia. Vojin is aware that when he obtains some sort of funding from the Film Centre, that money can provide the fees but not his employees pay checks. Considering the fact that his company is linked to Canada, he can apply for Canadian funding, and deal with the money distribution and business plans between the two countries later. He says that the positive of it all is that animation in Serbia is authentic and therefore, in the foreign market it seems exotic and different. Right now, in Serbia his work is looked upon as quality and serious animation that is being developed, which is something else he highlights as a positive direction in which his work is heading.
Future is the change for the better
Vojin used to feel a lot of anger towards Serbia and everything in it that doesn’t work. Now he is more understanding and has the desire to change circumstances for the better in the future. Both he and his wife are working a lot right now and are trying to create something in Serbia. He has no plans to return to Canada for now, and something radical would have to happen for him to consider leaving, something like a war-related situation.