Emir Kusturica

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Emir Kusturica

Born Emir Kusturica
24 November 1954 (1954-11-24) (age 54)
Sarajevo, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina,
SFR Yugoslavia
Occupation Film director and screenwriter
Years active 1978-present
Spouse(s) Maja Kusturica

Emir Kusturica, OF (Serbian Cyrillic: Емир Кустурица; IPA[ˈku.stu.ri.tsa]) (born 24 November 1954 in Sarajevo, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yugoslavia) is a Serbian filmmaker, actor and musician living in Serbia. He has converted to the Serbian Orthodox faith from Bosnian Muslim and considers himself a Serb.[1] He won the Palme d'Or at Cannes twice (for When Father Was Away on Business and Underground), he is also a recipient of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.[2][3] On 8 September 2007, Kusturica became a UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia, alongside Ana Ivanović, Jelena Janković and Aleksandar Đorđević.


[edit] Life and work

[edit] Early period

After graduating from the Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) in 1978, Kusturica began directing made-for-TV television shorts in former Yugoslavia. He made an auspicious feature-film debut in 1981 with Do You Remember Dolly Bell?, which won the prestigious Golden Lion for Best First Work at that year's Venice Film Festival. From 1981 to 1988 he was a lecturer at the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo (Akademija Scenskih Umjetnosti) and art director of Open Stage Obala (Otvorena scena Obala).

His second feature film, When Father Was Away on Business (1985), earned a Palme d'Or at Cannes, five Yugoslavian Oscar equivalents, and was nominated for an American Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. He wrote the screenplays for both Do You Remember Dolly Bell? and When Father Was Away on Business in collaboration with Abdulah Sidran. In 1989, Kusturica earned even more accolades for Time of the Gypsies, a penetrating but magical look into gypsy culture and the exploitation of their youth.

In 1986-1988 Kusturica played bass guitar in Zabranjeno pušenje, a rock band from Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The musician and composer Goran Bregović created music for several Kusturica's films, including Time of the Gypsies, Arizona Dream (feat. Iggy Pop) and Underground.

[edit] 1990s

Kusturica continued to make highly regarded films into the next decade, including his American debut, the absurdist comedy Arizona Dream (1993) and the Palme d'Or-winning black comedic epic, Underground (1995).

Underground, scripted by Dušan Kovačević, reflects the history of Yugoslavia since the beginning of WWII (and similar to all ex-communist countries) to the last horrible events in Balkan countries. Behind the comedy is hidden the pain of whole generations, which have suffered WWII, The Cold War, the war in Yugoslavia, the treachery of their own leadership, the fall. The film shows us the reality, as seen by those who feel unlimited love for their country and culture.

In 1998, he won the Venice Film Festival's Silver Lion for Best Direction for Black Cat, White Cat, an outrageous, farcical comedy set in a Gypsy (Romany) settlement on the banks of the Danube. The music for the film was composed by Belgrade-based band No Smoking Orchestra, formed by Zabranjeno Pušenje vocalist Nele Karajlić. In 1999 they recorded a new album, Unza Unza Time, produced by the Universal record company, as well as a music video, directed by Emir Kusturica. The band continued touring around the world under the name Emir Kusturica & No Smoking Orchestra, though he played a rather minor musical role in the band.

[edit] Recent life and work

  • In The Widow of St. Pierre 2000, a movie by director Patrice Leconte, Kusturica, here in his first appearance as an actor, has little in the way of lines, but his eyes and body language speak volumes.
  • In 2001, Kusturica directed Super 8 Stories. This is a documentary road and concert movie. It's full of inside material, 'read between the lines' nuances and small pleasures offering also a breathless and exhilarating behind-the-scenes look.
  • In 2002, The Good Thief, directed by Neil Jordan, Emir Kusturica appears as an electric guitar player/security specialist who constantly plays Jimi Hendrix riffs.
  • In 2004, The Prix de l'Education nationale (National Education Prize) honored Emir Kusturica and his film Život je čudo (Life is a Miracle). Life is a Miracle will be considered a national educational tool, complete with an instructional CD-ROM intended to facilitate analysis and debate among film students.
  • His film, Maradona a documentary on Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona, was originally released in Italy in May 2007. It was premiered in France during the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.
  • His film Promise Me This premeried at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
  • Emir Kusturica is the winner of the Philippe Rotthier European Architecture Award for his Küstendorfethnic village project (also called Drvengrad - a “wooden town”) on Mt. Zlatibor, Serbia, in 2005. The prize is awarded every three years by the Brussels Foundation for Architecture. He was President of the Jury of the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
  • On 10 February 2007, Kusturica received Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France's highest order in recognition of significant contribution to the arts.
  • In 2007 Kusturica prepared a junk opera, Times of the Gypsies. The premiere took place in June 2007 at the Opéra Bastille in Paris.
  • In July 2007, Kusturica directed the accompanying music video to Manu Chao's single "Rainin In Paradize", from the latter's forthcoming album.
  • In mid December 2007, Kusturica announced the formation of Kustendorf Film Festival.[1] Its first instalment will be held at Kusturica's village from 14 January to 21 January 2008.
  • At the 2007 parliamentary elections he gave indirect support to Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica and his center-right Democratic Party of Serbia.[4] In 2007, he also supported Serbian campaign Solidarity - Kosovo is Serbia, a campaign against the independence of Serbian province of Kosovo.[5]
  • Since January 2008, Kusturica annually organizes his own private Küstendorf Film Festival.

[edit] Music

Performing with No Smoking Orchestra in March 2009.

Emir Kusturica is involved with the musical group No Smoking Orchestra. Their website and more information can be found at [2].

[edit] Religion and identity

When New York Times interviewed Emir at the beginning of the Bosnian War, he said: "I am a living illustration of Bosnian mixing and converting," "My grandparents lived in eastern Herzegovina. Very poor. The Turks came and brought Islam. There were three brothers in the family. One was Orthodox Christian. The other two took Islam to survive."[6]

On Đurđevdan (St. George's Day) in 2005 Emir was baptised into the Serbian Orthodox Church as Nemanja Kusturica (Немања Кустурица) in Savina monastery near Herceg Novi, Montenegro.[7][8] To his critics who considered this the final betrayal of his Bosnian Muslim roots, he replied that: "My father was an atheist and he always described himself as a Serb. OK, maybe we were Muslim for 250 years, but we were Orthodox before that and deep down we were always Serbs, religion cannot change that. We only became Muslims to survive the Turks."[7][9]

[edit] Filmography

[edit] Awards

[edit] References

  • Gocic, Goran: "The Cinema of Emir Kusturica: Notes from the Underground", Wallflower Press, London, 2001.
  • Irodanova, Dina: Emir Kusturica. London. British Film Institute 2002.
  • Imsirevic, Almir: "Based on a Truth Story", Sarajevo, 2007.

[edit] External links

NAME Kusturica, Nemanja
SHORT DESCRIPTION Film director and screenwriter
DATE OF BIRTH 1954-12-24
PLACE OF BIRTH Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
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