Interview in Serbian newspaper Politika, January 2003

The film Life is a miracle looks like a very probable mixture between Shakespeare and the Marx Brothers”, so does Emir Kusturica define his new film. As a producer, he prepares the first screening of Jagoda in the supermarket (strawberries at the supermarket) at the Berlin film festival. He is also finishing his new film, and preparing the promotion of his Serbian monograph which Belgradian Goran Gocić wrote. During the shooting, the discipline is very strict. The journalists will know more about the film when it is ready. We say that we are from Politika and between two scenes, Emir takes some time speaking a little…

  • The film Life is a miracle (working title Hungry Heart) is a love story. It is about the refugees and the insane time of the ethnic conflicts in the Balkans. Can you give your impressions and your doubts when you started to work ?
    • Emir Kusturica : This film simply follows the interest I carry to the destiny of the people in this area, and I frame them in a social and historical context. Since 1992, each one of us passed by difficult moments and has its own history on what occurred. The death of Yugoslavia, the war, the fall of the social system… When I read the story of a Serb, who at the beginning of the war in 1992 must choose between his son in jail in the other camp and a Muslim woman who was his hostage, I realize that this case has the dimension of a Shakespearian dilemma, but that it is also the true life. As usual at home, I start working on a small love story which deals a little of the war. But I realize that while finishing, it is much more than a love story. This film tells how war has grown and was nourished in Bosnia, and of the demystification of the family, which I had begun with my first film and which is characteristic of all my following films. At the end, the film loses its illusions, and looks like a very probable mixture between Shakespeare and the Marx Brothers.
  • You now have your own production company, you will not share success with other producers. Was that a difficult choice ?
    • EK : Money is something so dangerous ! Since 1989, I make films financed by foreign producers. Unfortunately, I had to build a “family” production to put money within the framework of the film. I never had chance with my producers, and I think that it is a difficult and complicated deal. This film becomes a true business of family. My wife Maja is responsible for the reflection in the production. We succeeded in extending the budget so that a euro becomes two euros. We'll practically film during one year, and we have the budget of an average European film. It is not surprising because all the film is related to my family.
  • Your production company ”Rasta international” produced the first film of the young director Dušan Milić Jagoda in the supermarket, film selected in the section “Panorama” of the festival of Berlin. Is this your new mission ? Do you want to build a school of cinema in Yugoslavia ?
    • EK : We produced this film, not because Maja or me need to make films, but because we think that we can help young people and talented authors while bringing our energy. In this country, the dominant idea is that, in my opinion, the professors hide the secrets of directing to their students. I wanted to make things differently. I met people of the television channel ARTE, they read the script and understood that it could be a very interesting film with a small budget. Now, this film goes to Berlin and in the theatres of Yugoslavia. I am pleased because I helped a young man to make his first film.
  • These next days a book on your life and your cinematographic work will be presented. This book is already available in English. Do you think that your work is more appreciated in Europe or Yugoslavia ?
    • EK : The cultural models in our country are imported copies of the West. A long time ago, we celebrated our big directors like Zika Pavlovic and Sasa Petrović. The time of the authentic authors of films is behind us. In the movie theatres of Belgrade, there are few films of big directors. They want to make audience and put Mike Leigh or Almodovar in the corner. It is really the time of the robbers and the gangsters of Hollywood who only want to make profit… In all the cities of the world you can see decent films, but not here ! It is for that reason that I consider myself as belonging to a world conspiracy authors against the colonization of Hollywood. Honestly speaking, the role of “middle class” cash robber of the world cinema is rather comfortable. Rather than that, I try not to comprise me like a “province giant” who makes films for his root public and whose films do not do much noise beyond Belgrade. It is logical that this book has been published in English first, because I am present in the cinemas of the world for more than 20 years. There is a misunderstanding which exists regarding my contribution to the Yugoslav cinema and the privileges I have are the result of a certain reflection. I am sorry if some young directors think that I block their way towards Hollywood, because they do not understand the fact that they will never be accepted by the “Hollywood machinery”, but not : in any way I do not block the road to them !
  • Your vision of culture and cinema today?
    • EK : I believe in our people, and especially in the individuals who are always able to find ideas. The cinema in this country passed by several periods, from the “black wave” to the “school of Prague”, there are thus many things to retain, and we are right if we want to defend this heritage. The imported models of American films make us a province of the United States. But we are outsiders, and at the same time, the models of cinema in the small countries evolve, progress, and show that the road for the cinema of the world is open. Lars von Trier is not an Hollywood director, Almodovar neither, but a lot of people like their films, like the Cohen brothers. There is a dominating model of imitation of what is big and powerful and which can ruin our cinematographic industry here. Fortunately, our best weapon is the public, invaluable thing, but it is similar everywhere in Europe. If we have the courage to make this public vibrate as much for an aesthetic point of view than humorous, it's great !
  • What is your opinion of the cinema festivals ? Do they help small films to conquer international scenes ?
    • EK : The cinema festivals are the only places where small countries can promote their films. I cannot imagine other opportunities so that French, German, Japanese or English sees Strawberries at the supermarket than in festivals !
  • Are there any strategies in Europe for screening author films ? Strategies of defence compared to Hollywood ?
    • EK : The only solution of cultural strategy to defend oneself from the Hollywood hegemonies would be a law, a regulation on the royalties, which already exists in France. The only advantage that have the Serbian films is that they are not subtitled. I think that for this reason our public remains faithful to the Serbian cinema.

MILAN VLAJICIC, translation by Matthieu Dhennin & Nina Novaković

en/itv_03-01_politika.txt · Last modified: 2008/02/17 16:09 by matthieu1