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Commercialized education the Croatia edition

by Tarek Akhtar October 23, 2012
Commercialized education the Croatia edition

A scene from Igor Bezinovic’s documentary Blokada. Photo courtesy of Cinema Politica.

Montreal knows a thing or two about student movements. Red squares, large demonstrations, the echoes of pot and pans; it is a scene that we in Montreal have become accustomed to in the past year or so.

On Monday Oct. 22, Cinema Politica is premiering Blokada, a film that will resonate with those who opposed, witnessed or took part in the student movement in Quebec.

Directed by Igor Bezinovic, this documentary is about the 2009 student movement in Croatia, where students banded together to demand free education.

The film is structured in a way that shows the viewer the chronological set of events from the movement’s creation to its eventual disintegration. From the very start, the student’s message is very clear: they want free education, and they want the suspected mismanaged government funds to pay for it.

With claims that their government excessively spends 41 million euros to fund military projects, the students believe those funds should be reallocated to the education sector which requires approximately 40 million euros a year.

At first, university administrators supported the student movement by suspending classes in order to maintain a united front. But as time passed, the dean and council members decided to resume classes in order for the school semester to be saved.

The outraged students did not back down in defeat over the loss of support. Instead, they fought harder and chanted louder in their requests. Their tactics included mass demonstrations with plenty of signage, interrupting classes, long marches, debates and spontaneous festivals. Though much of it sounds radical, the tactics shown in the documentary were actually quite inspiring. Why? Because the group was organized as a collective and decisions were made as a collective.

In their united front, the students of Croatia stated that they are not after a contract of intangible conditions, but a law which gives every student the right to education as long as an entrance exam is passed. They want to abolish fees so that people can study according to their ability and not their social standing. And without giving away the details surrounding the movement’s end, I leave you with a quote from one protester getting ready to rally students in a march: “our protest is over, but our struggle isn’t.”

Blokada is a documentary worth watching because it deals with a lot of the same issues which our own student movement has dealt with and is dealing with right now. Seeing it being done halfway across the globe is significant for all who are for or against the debate of free education.

Blokada premieres on Oct. 29 at 1455 de Maisonneuve W. Room H-110. 7 p.m. Admission is by donation. For more information, visit cinemapolitica.org/concordia

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