*presented every hour, on the hour
The cast of Preuzmimo Benčić counts over fifty children between the ages of six and thirteen, residents of the post-industrial Croatian port city of Rijeka. The film activates the history and planned transformation of the now-abandoned Benčić industrial complex that has served as a sugar refinery, an armoury, and tobacco and machine parts factories over its three-hundred-year history. Designated as a redevelopment site for “creative industries,” the project is to include the local art museum, library and creative startups, and a hotel. However, the projects have as yet been unrealized and are widely believed to have been mismanaged. In Thauberger’s film the “artists,” the former workers who have been permitted to temporarily re-occupy the complex with the immaterial production of gestures, dance, video, music, and writing, debate with the “mayors” who discuss their own plans for the site.
Conceived with the children who occupied the complex for a five-week period, Preuzmimo Benčić, reflects Thauberger’s working method, which consistently involves close collaboration with a group or community and results in provocative reflections of social, political, institutional and aesthetic power relations. Although grounded in the highly complex political and economic reality in Croatia, the film also evokes the recurring recourse to culture as a means of stimulating investment in disenfranchised neighbourhoods, and is embedded with the constant tension between late capitalism and socialism.