Kusturica, the ambassador of the Balkans to repudiated in his native Sarajevo | Culture

Kusturica, the ambassador of the Balkans to repudiated in his native Sarajevo | Culture

Film director Emir Kusturica will perform tonight in Barcelona with his successful Balkan punk rock group, the No Smoking Orchestra. Since he founded this crazy and circus ensemble, Kusturica has given hundreds of multitudinous concerts for the most prestigious venues on the planet. There is only one place in the world where the maximum ambassador of the Balkans He is vetoed to act: his hometown of Sarajevo, where he is repudiated for his support of Serbian ultranationalists.

Milosevic's admirer, he liked to converse with him while the politician passed whiskeys

Kusturica's is a tragic paradox. "I was born in Sarajevo, that city is part of my personal history", explained the director to EL PAÍS in statements by email. In addition, Kusturica is one of the forgers of the Sarajevo myth, since he placed it on the cultural map of Yugoslavia. From the credits of his first film, Do you remember Dolly Bell?, the city is immortalized as a bewitching agglomeration of minarets and reddish roofs that extends to the bottom of a wide valley. Its majestic display, where perhaps it awaits a better life, is the aspiration of the protagonists of the film, inhabitants of a neighborhood of the hills that go to an old fair while the 24,000 baci by Adriano Celentano.

The Sarajevites consider the attitude of Kusturica during the war as a betrayal.

While Kusturica was filming his first works in the 80s, Sarajevo developed a vibrant cultural scene that today the filmmaker remembers as "a creative boiling". Along with Kusturica, in this brazen movement stood out the punk rock band Zabranjeno Pusenje (Prohibido fumar), whose singer, Nele Karajlic, was a friend of the director. Although Kusturica preferred the guitar, when the group was left without anyone to play the bass he asked Karajlic if it was difficult to master the instrument. After Karajlic answered that no, if one is talented, Kusturica sentenced: "Well, I am talented" and the cronies sealed the signing with a drink of aguardiente. As the director recalled yesterday, he managed to be a bassist "based on taste, will and practice". Although his career in the band lasted a few months, was the embryo of his musical career, which has lasted until today with the No Smoking Orchestra, "a group of virtuosos" in which he confesses that he tries to "live up to it" .

Admirer of Milosevic

Although Kusturica had left Sarajevo as a film theme since the mid-1980s, it was the Bosnian war that forever disrupted the relationship with his hometown. With the outbreak of war, the pressures intensified for the Sarajevites of all ethnic groups to choose sides, without any nuance. While the bombs of the Yugoslav army rained on the city, Kusturica gave a telephone interview from Paris imploring his fellow citizens not to resist. In his autobiography, titled Where am I in this story? the director assures that it was an attempt to calm the spirits, but his position was misinterpreted as tacit support to the Serbian side. Although he felt the urge to return to his city at war, he was warned that he was in danger because he had meant it, so he discarded his plans to return. Abandoned by their most international figure in a moment of extreme agony, the Sarajevites have never forgiven for leaving them in the lurch and considering the Kusturica's attitude during the war as a betrayal.

Since those events, the relations between the filmmaker and his native Sarajevo are controversial and stormy. The city authorities handed over their apartment to the writer Nedzad Ibrisimovic, until then known for his monumental drunkenness, who had suddenly changed the tavern for the mosque and alcoholism for the national Bosnian cause. At the opposite extreme of identity polarization, Kusturica began to openly declare himself a Serb, a process that would culminate in his conversion to orthodox Christianity. At his baptism at the age of fifty, the director changed his Muslim name, Emir, to that of Nemanja, in homage to the most glorious Serbian medieval dynasty. Admirador of Slobodan Milosevic by its overwhelming character and its defense of Yugoslavia, it liked to converse with him while the politician passed whiskeys. At the time, this fascination reached such a point that Kusturica has affirmed that he only needed to tattoo his face.

When he broke relations with the composer Goran Bregovic, author of the fanfare bands that became an essential part of his films, Kusturica resumed the relationship with Nele Karajlic, his old musician friend of the 80s. As the director, Karajlic had He was far from Sarajevo, fearing he would be killed for his reputation as a prosecutor and had also become an outlaw in his own city. Retaking the name of "Prohibido Fumar" from the cult group that had united them, these two illustrious Sarajevites, now fallen into disgrace, founded the No Smoking Orchestra. "We did it without a fixed plan, after the premiere of Black cat, white cat. The success and enthusiasm of the public made us, very quickly, invite us to play all over the world. And it has been going on for 20 years! "To celebrate this anniversary, the No Smoking Orchestra has released its most recent album, Corps Diplomatique", which it is presenting at the Cruïlla de Tardor Festival.

Kusturica does not elaborate on the possibility of reconciliation with Sarajevo, perhaps escamado with the media, which he considers "a septic tank." However, in an interview he gave to a Sarajevite network, the director said that it is absurd to think that one day he could walk around his hometown again, since both have "incompatible emotions". In his autobiography, Kusturica affirms that he has dreamed of Sarajevo only once: a nightmare in which he contemplated the city from the back seat of a car, while, through the streets he had come to know so well, a multitude of strange faces circulated .

The double political face

Son of a former partisan and high-ranking Communist Party, in his youth Kusturica listened obsessively to The Clash and was fascinated by the commitment of his singer, Joe Strummer, to Sandinismo in Nicaragua. His anti-imperialist convictions were reinforced with the dissolution of Yugoslavia, which he considers the result of a plan drawn up by the great Western powers and NATO. Proclive to launch philippic attacks against capitalism, the director acts dressed as Emiliano Zapata and has just released a documentary entitled "El Pepe, Una vida suprema", in which he talks with former Uruguayan President José Mujica.

Although it cultivates a rebellious image before the international public, at home Kusturica flirts with Serbian nationalism, even when both ideologies seem irreconcilable. For the theme park that drives in Visegrad, an attempt to reproduce the city as it appears described in the novel The bridge over the Drina Ivo Andric, the filmmaker has a large and opaque funding provided by the Republika Srpska, the Bosnian entity with a majority of Serbs. So, it is not strange that, in the recent presidential elections, he asked for the vote for Milorad Dodik, the main nationalist Serbo-Bosnian leader. These days Kusturica has compared his patron with "the best center forward in the world", while Dodik announced his intention to appoint him as presidential adviser


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