Anecdotes

les Guignols de l'info

During the Cannes Film Festival in 2005, Emir Kusturica was president of the jury. French channel Canal+ honoured Emir Kusturica by creating a pupet for its satyric show Les guignols de l'info.

The Gypsies

Received from Giovanni Robbiano who was student of Emir at Columbia University : ”Emir is a very good football player. He can make several things, he played in the junior team of Sarajevo and had a real possibility of making a career in Football. In the United States, we set up a team, that we call The Gypsies, because it was made up players of all Europe, with an Iranian goal-keeper. We played against the American teams : they were very fair-play, whereas Emir really played savage. He kicked everyone, so that one guy came to see him at the end of a match to shout him that he did not fair play. Emir looked at him and said : 'You is nervous !'. It then became a very popular expression in Columbia, and all his pupils said 'You is nervous !' to everyone…

Ciby 2000

Where does the name of the production company of Underground and Black Cat, White Cat (Ciby 2000) come from ? Just read it phonetically in French : ”C. B. de Mille”, mythical director deceased in 1959.

Seven days in the life of a bird

In 1996, Emir Kusturica films a small fiction report. He tells there the true story of a Serb who can reach his house only by passing through the field of his neighbours. Unable to talk together, he happens to have no more access to return or to leave his place, so he soon starts to dream to be a bird… The film is entitled Seven days in the life of a bird and was broadcast in Envoyé Spécial, on French television France 2.

Fights & duels

In 1993, Emir causes Volislav Šešelj, leader of the ultranationalist Serb movement in duel. He suggests that it should be done in the center of Belgrade at midday, with the weapon that Mr. Šešelj will choose. Volislav Šešelj refuses the offer saying that ”he did not want to be accused of the death of an artist”.

In 1995, during the International Film Festival of Belgrade, one reports that Kusturica struck Nebojsa Pajkić, serbian author and critic. Symbolically, Mrs. Pajkić tried to protect her husband by striking Kusturica with a small bag, which was in fact a present of Radovan Karadžić, the leader of the Serbs of Bosnia.

In 2005, though the columns of French cinema magazine Brazil, Emir Kusturica and Vincent Gallo had some violent sentences for each others :
Vincent Gallo : Kusturica, is a bloody idiot and an egocentric. (…) What an idiot ! He's the worst director I've ever seen, and I really don't like his work.
Emir Kusturica : This guy is crazy to be so aggressive toward someone he hasn't seen for such a long time. I think that if he knew how to make better films, he would be less nervous.

When two winners meet...

The scene takes place on May 11, 1997 at the airport of Nice, in the waiting room. Emir Kusturica meets by chance Francis Ford Coppola. Both have had two Golden Palms in Cannes. Coppola for Apocalypse Now and Secret Conversation, Kusturica for When father was away on business and Underground. Kusturica is a great admirer of Coppola and seems very shy to meet him. Their conversation was filmed by the cameras of CANAL+:


  • Where fo you come from ?
  • Yugoslavia.
  • Belgrade ?
  • I come from Belgrade, but I was born in Sarajevo.
  • I was in Yugoslavia a long time ago. I remember it now, it was in 1962. I went by car from Belgrade to Dubrovnik, of course, it was before this horrible war. It was a superb trip. People were really nice, at the time.
  • I'm sorry in the United States you could not see my film. I came to Cannes in 1995 with a film on the war and I won the Golden Palm. This film is called Underground. I would be happy to send you a copy. It's a movie about what happened there at that time.

Emir Kusturica moves away, somehow nauseated, without anything more to say…

Four personalities comment on this scene :

  • Jean-Pierre Jeunet :
    • For me, it's the meeting of two geniuses, I have an immense respect for these two directors. They meet for the first time, I believe. The one is standing up, the other sits in an armchair. The one who sits does not stand up, the one who stands up is like a kid. After a short discussion, they realize they have nothing to say. In this kind of situation, it's very frequent. And then, very quickly, we understand that the one who stands up admires the one who sits, but the one who sits does not know who is the one who stands up. At the end of this discussion, the one who stands up manages to say he also won a Golden Palm, and proposes to send the tape to Coppola. The American realizes finally he has in front of him a prize winner of the Golden Palm. We feel Kusturica is nauseated and he moves away. There are in this exchange all the symbols from what occurs between America and Europe. We, European, know and respect the Americans, but they ignore us. They do not know us. Coppola who is unaware of Kusturica : that, is enormous.
  • Claude Lelouch :
    • What surprises me the most in this document, is that Coppola does not stand up. He does not even try to stand up. Remaining sit translates his ignorance, it is not rudeness, it is just ignorance. I think that, if Orson Welles had met Kusturica, he would have stood up. I was in Cannes this day, I shook hands with Coppola, Scorsese, Kusturica, etc. We all have the same kind of relationships, we never feel like speaking about cinema, it is more superficial than professional, like this meeting between Kusturica and Coppola. They know there is a camera. And yet I am surprised they went so far with a camera. Until the end of this document, I said to myself : Coppola will stand up and say goodbye to Kusturica, and until the end he just remains sitting.
  • Francis Veber :
    • What strikes me the most in these images, is that Europe is upright and America sits. There is in this exchange a rather astonishing mixture of sling and respect. There are also behind this dialogue much untold. In front of the Yugoslav director, the American autarchy. Kusturica must make an effort towards Coppola, to tell him he won the Golden Palm and to propose him to send the cassette. This exchange, is like America and Europe face to face. If you live in America, you fatally have the eyes and the ears less open than if you live a small country like France or Yugoslavia where you have so many influences. In Europe, you are a witness of your time, whereas the Americans are witness of themselves. To excuse Coppola, the American director has at least the merit to know Dubrovnic and Belgrade. If there was an authentic American in front of Kusturica, he would have confused Dubrovnic with a mustard brand.
  • Jean-Marc Barr :
    • I have discovered Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav cinema fifteen years ago thanks to my wife who comes from this country. When I met her, it was nevertheless necessary to go looking at where was Yugoslavia on the map ! When I arrived to Europe, when I played in Avignon in the Palais des Papes, some journalists asked me what was is like having the shadow of Jean Vilar, I did not know Jean Vilar. Afterwards, one told me who he was and I started to be afraid ! Our ignorance should be accepted ! And perhaps even that of Coppola who hasn't seen Underground. In America, we live on another planet, our ignorance does not come from us, but from our system. The film distribution is controlled by a market, with its rules. In this system, European films do not have million dollars for publicity. We do not have access to European works like those of Kusturica. And yet, when I show these films to my family, they are fulfilled with wonder. They adored Breaking the Waves. Coppola and Kusturica are two different cinemas and two different times. Apocalypse Now was an enormous event in my life. At the time of his release, I didn't know that I was going to be an actor. I was American football player. This film opened my eyes on the Vietnam war and woke up my social conscience. Underground made me the same effect, but then I was an expert and I discovered a masterpiece. When I discovered Coppola, I discovered the cinema. A few years later, I met the director in Los Angeles, he strongly dissuaded me to remain in the United States and encouraged me to discover Europe, a Europe that he knows. But, despite everything… and this document proves it…, his knowledge of the American medium didn't force film to approach a Europe where are still made luminous films like those of Kusturica.
en/anecdotes.txt · Last modified: 2008/02/13 00:46 by matthieu1