Emir Kusturica in his village - Interview in French newspaper L'Humanité on 9 september 2005

The director, who received two palme d’or in Cannes, received us in the village of his dreams that became true.

« Once upon a time, there was a country… » destroyed by the international community and the exacerbated nationalisms. Where Emir Kusturica, one of the rare directors having received two palmes d’or in Cannes (for When father was away on business, in 1985, and Underground, in 1995), decides to build a small piece of paradise, in the region where he made his last film, Life is a miracle, next to the small town of Mokra Gora, at the border of the Republic of Serbia. Twenty kilometres from there, is located Višegrad, city crossed by the river Drina, which inspired to Ivo Andrić, Nobel Prize of literature in 1961, his master-work the Bridge over the Drina. The spirit of this great writer of Croatian origin, born in Bosnia and having lived the greatest part of his life in Belgrade, keeps haunting the places of our friend director. Not only do the baker-café and the restaurant of Mecavnikgrad (the “snowstorm village”) are respectively called Kod Corkana (“At the One-eyed”) and Lotika, famous characters of Ivo Andrić’s novel, but we can also see there a small world that Ivo Andrić would not have disavowed. Kusturica doesn’t build a stone bridge but a wooden village which, by certain sides, shows all the characteristics of a master-work.

At the entry of the village - which announces its membership of the UNICEF of which Emir is an ambassador -, Dragan, Serb of Montenegro, builds day and night with passion the exact model in small pieces of wood. Such as Luka, the hero of Life is a miracle, reproducing the “Eight of Sargan” in his attic. After the reception door, we can admire the main street which paving is made of wooden cross-pieces of rail road. Here is a philosophy, made of naturalness, respect of the good things of the countryside: a shop in front of the reception sells wool, unbleached cotton cloths, specially manufactured kitchen utensils bearing the name of the village, natural leather shoes, hand painted pieces of furniture such as the one we can find in the rooms to rent, and of course, the DVD of the films of Emir and the CD of the No Smoking Orchestra. Aside, a small gallery called Anika (another homage to Andrić) currently proposes an exhibition of paintings by a naïve painter of Herceg Novi (Montenegro): Vojo Stanić, who made the cover of the album Unza Unza Time.

The main house is the one where live Emir, his family and his friends. We had the honour to be invited there, in warm guest rooms, with painted furniture and string carpets. We’ll finally discuss in the court of his house, where the view is open toward the mountains of Bosnia, today far away.

Toward Sarajevo

Interview by M. L., translation by Matthieu Dhennin