Non-Aligned: Scenes from the Labudović Reels

Directed by Mila Turajlić

100 minutes / Color/B&W
Serbian; English; French; Arabic / English subtitles
Closed Captioned
Release: 2023
Copyright: 2022

Self-described "artivist" Mila Turajlić mines Yugoslavian newsreel archives to tell a story of international solidarity and resistance to the binary of the Cold War. Focusing on the work of cameraman Stevan Labudović, who traveled the world on Yugoslav "peace missions" and was embedded with Algerian freedom fighters for three years, the films in this diptych can be watched together, but also stand alone as fascinating independent documentary works.

A lost art. A country that no longer exists. An international political movement that is nearly forgotten.

Filmmaker Mila Turajlić was born in Belgrade, and grew up singing patriotic songs extolling Yugoslav leader Josep Broz Tito. The images that populated her “Yugoslavia of the mind” came largely from government newsreels—and the most iconic of those were shot by Stevan Labudović.

In NON-ALIGNED: SCENES FROM THE LABUDOVIĆ REELS, Turajlić delves into Labudović’s work documenting the birth of the Non-Aligned Movement, a largely Yugoslav-led bloc including many decolonizing nations that stood apart from both East and West during the Cold War.

What begins as an exploration of newsreel footage of the 1961 Non-Aligned summit in Belgrade becomes a love letter to a vanished country and its hopes for the future, a history of the early days of the Non-Aligned Movement, and a document of the affinity between two filmmakers—Turajlić, in her forties, and Labudović, nearing 90.

Shot in Belgrade, New York, and Algeria, and featuring archival footage from around the globe filmed by Labudović, this is a subtle, complex documentary, adroitly blending personal and global histories.

“"Looks back through layers of history and beyond simplified narratives of success and failure... A visually arresting inquiry into what it takes to envision a new world — and to implode those visions." —The New York Times

“Riveting… The film moves flawlessly between archival footage and storytelling revealing a lost piece of important history. Highly Recommended.” —Educational Media Reviews Online

“Mila Turajlić builds, film after film, a remarkable work of understanding what the world was like in the second half of the 20th century.” —Slate (France)

“These images, at the crossroads of intimate destinies and a more global history, resonate with a particularly poignant topicality.” —Les Inrockuptibles

“Masterful.” —Franc-Tireur

“A love letter to a country that no longer exists and a tribute to Labudović's artistry, NON-ALIGNED delicately weaves personal and global histories, creating a nuanced exploration that spans continents and generations.” —Video Librarian

“Turajlić’s unique diptych reconstructs the Non-Aligned Movement’s forgotten anticolonial legacies and emancipatory visions, illuminating their indebtedness to state-sponsored cinematic projects as much as to Labudović’s personal friendships and profound professional dedication.” —Nataša Kovačević, author of Non-Aligned Imagination: Yugoslavia, the Global South, and Literary Solidarities Beyond the Cold War Blocs (forthcoming Northwestern University Press, 2025)

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