The founder of Group 484 Jelena Šantić was one of the most important peace activists in Serbia. Since 1991 she was the initiator of many peace demonstrations, founder of numerous networks for cooperation between nongovernmental peace organisations in the country and region and the manager in projects for assistance to refugees and reconciliation of warring factions. She was a member of Belgrade Circle, participated in founding of European Movement in Serbia and Centre for Antiwar Action. For her peace activities, she was awarded Pax Christi International annual peace award in 1996.
Being a prestigious ballet artist, during her exceptionally successful ballet career Jelena Šantić played the most important roles in a large number of performances. She also created choreographies for numerous plays and films. She was a member of CID/UNESCO, Dance History Scholars, ELIA as well as an associate to many international and domestic specialised magazines. She was the author of Dušan Trninić Monograph and the book on Maga Magazinović My Life.
ImageBerlin peace activists, honouring Jelena’s work founded the humanitarian organisation called Group 485. Upon their initiative, on March 2003, Berlin Parliament decides to name a park in Berlin’s Hellersdorf district »Jelena Šantić Peace Park«, marking the third year of her untimely death.
»Humanitarian activism is the other side of me. My life has always been an intersection of intuition and rationality, stability and instability, peace and upheaval. Then, at one moment I felt a strong desire to help people who suffered because of the war. My humanitarian trait in a way relates to art. They both connect different worlds.«
In 2005, in memory of Jelena Šantić (1944-2000), and with the financial support of Group 484 Management Board member, Mr Vojin Dimitrijević, we established Jelena Šantić Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to promote artistic projects containing the spirit of social values, tolerance and preservation of peace – the values Jelena Šantić promoted all her life.
Members of the Foundation Management Board are comprised of: Goranka Matić, Mira Otašević, Nataša Rašić and Tanja Pavlov.
The Jelena Šantić Foundation award is established for the support to artistic projects containing the spirit of social values – tolerance and preservation of peace, because Jelena’s humanistic trait was related to art »since they both connect different worlds. The Award is presented every second year in the memory of Jelena Šantić.
Image“Jelena Šantić” Foundation Award for 2008 was presented to the programme “Free Zone” of the Rex Cultural Centre. The Award is presented for the activities in 2007 – film festival in Belgrade, film programme and panel discussions in Serbian towns and the same programme for high schools.
“Free Zone” comprises of a series of different programmes based on engaged, contemporary film production aiming at dealing with the existing social and political issues worldwide. In 2007, the “Free Zone” film projections and programmes were seen by over 15,000 people.
With the quality of the film production and social engagement focused on protection of human rights, the “Free Zone” actors, according to the “Jelena Šantić” Foundation jury, most completely demonstrated artistic and social engagement Jelena used to promote.
The first award (2006) has been presented to the Belgrade Dance Festival, International Dance Festival of modern and classic ballet, for the 2005 performance. Dance Festival was initiated by International Dance Council UNESCO, Dance Council of Serbia and Montenegro, ‘Sava’ Centre and the Belgrade Drama Theatre.
Image2006 Award, the work of the sculptor Nikola Pešić, was presented to the founders and selectors of the Belgrade dance Festival, Aja Jung and Nebojša Bradić, at the ceremony held at the Belgrade Drama Theatre on March 19, 2006.
»First awards and acknowledgements are for Nebojša Bradić and me actually the most important. I am very pleased for the Jelena Šantić award because she belonged to the world of ballet and because of her social engagement that followed. This award means to me even more since I knew Jelena, and I remember when she came to the first seminar I organised on the Mediterranean dance, on Corfu in 1995, which was my first important task assigned by the UNESCO«, says Aja Jung for the magazine Vreme.
Interview: Aja Jung, on the occasion of the Jelena Šantić Award, the article entitled Dance on the cobbled road, Ivana Milanović, Vreme magazine, February 23, 2006.