The renowned film director Emir Kusturica, beside his work on film and music, is also known for his antiglobalist ideas
For years local audience has opposite impressions about Emir Kusturica‘s work and attitudes, but for decades he has left no one indifferent. Today he’s a top world director, a musician and a published author, who won numerous film, music, but also architecture, awards.
Emir Kusturica, a Serbian director whose first film “Nevjeste dolaze” (Brides are coming) was banned due to “explicit sex taboo topics” in the former communist Yugoslavia, has never stopped provoking in accordance to his anti-globalist ideas.
He won two “Golden palm” awards in Cannes for the films “Otac na službenom putu” (When Father Was Away on Business) and “Podzemlje” (Underground), and his films were competing for the Academy Award for non-English speaking film.
Several times he was the president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival. He is also the holder of the French Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters and UNICEF ambassador for Serbia.
He has both Serbian and French citizenship.
Emir Kusturica was born in Sarajevo and was educated at the Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU). His second student film “Guernica” got him the main prize at the Student Film Festival in Karlovy Vary. After his graduation in 1978, Kusturica returned to Sarajevo where he started working on local television.
He made his feature film debut in 1981 with “Sjećaš li se Doli Bel?” (Do You Remember Dolly Bell?) that won the prestigious “Silver Lion” for Best First Work at that year’s Venice Film Festival. His second feature film, “Otac na službenom putu” (When Father Was Away on Business) from 1985, earned a “Golden palm” at Cannes and the Academy Award nomination.
Twenty years ago he substituted for his colleague the Czech film director Milosh Forman teaching Film Directing at the Columbia University’s Graduate Film Division in New York when he directed his first English-speaking film “Arizona Dream” (1993) starring Faye Dunaway, Johnny Depp and Jerry Lewis. The film won “Silver Bear” award in Berlin in 1993.
His next film “Podzemlje” (Underground) from 1995 brought him another “Golden palm” in Cannes, and three years later he was awarded “Silver Lion” for the Best Direction for the film “Crna mačka, beli mačor” (Black Cade, White Cat) at the Venice Film Festival.
For the filming of “Život je lep” (Life Is a Miracle), the most expensive film production in Serbia, “Drvengrad” was built at Mokra Gora in 2004. According to Emir Kusturica’s idea, this ethno village should symbolize an anticapitalist and antiglobalization way of life. Four years later, on a suggestion of Austrian writer Peter Handke, it hosted the first edition of “Küstendorf”, a Film and Music Festival that was visited by a number of great stars of world music and cinema over the years.
Today “Drvengrad” is one of the centers of ethno tourism in Serbia, with its own production of fruit juices sold in bottles with provocative inscriptions and characters like Josip Broz Tito, Dragoljub Draža Mihailović, Ernesto Che Guevara… Kusturica was awarded the prestigious “Philippe Rotthier” architecture prize for the reconstruction of “Drvengrad” in 2005.
Kusturica is also traveling the world with his band “Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra“. His musical work was recognized five years ago in the Paris Opera Bastille, where a punk opera “Time of the Gypsies”, inspired by the film “Dom za vešanje” (Time of the Gypsies), was performed.
The same year Emir Kusturica was awarded the French Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters, the most important French award in the field of culture. Kusturica also directed the video for the cover song “Rainin’ In Paradize” for the album of the French musician Manu Chao.
Two years ago he published his autobiography titled “Smrt je neprovjerena glasina” (Death is an Unverified Rumor), which has already had several editions. He’s a good friend of the famous Russian director Nikita Mihalkov, and he’s also friend with actors Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp, and footballer Diego Armando Maradona.