Bloodshed was done in the name of patriotism, but actually it was simple theft … they stole everything, dish washers, tv sets, computers, horses, gasoline, etc. Give me a break with those independent states, please. Independence my ass!
nonsense? what’s the matter you suddenly forgot your dear compatriot vojislav seselj?
coming to public rally of Croatia indenpendence yielding and threatening with a gun.
computer? I asure you nobody had a computer back then :))))
how young are you
Most of the people here have no idea what they are talking about. A serious discussion on this topic is impossible
Thank you, my friend, toeachhiscinema, you are right!
I still have cousins and friends in Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia.
Micky, I’m 43 and quit this discussion. You won, Micky!
Federation is clean of your cousins and friends, altough there are serb lovers here and there in Croatia and slovenia :)
ofcourse I won, all I had to do is to refresh your memory.
Ari, just so you know, both Kaplanoglu and Kusturica will be guests in our Panorama of European Festival from 21 to 31 of October: want me to start a bout between the 2? ;)
This is old, but I have to give my two cents in regards to the original post because I come from ex-Yugoslavia and I don’t think this topic was discussed as it should have been, especially because it was hijacked by a couple of posters on account of their respective agendas. A Bosnian genocide survivor who is naturally angry at Kusturica, and a nationalistic Greek poster who is a natural ally of the Serb nationalists (google the Greek volunteers helping their Ortodox brothers in the Srebrenica genocide and today’s political influence of the Srebrenica veterans in Greece). I will also add that Serbs are a great nation who went trough a troubled time, led even today by dishonest politicians. One day they will be able to say they re proud of their nation. That day is going to come very soon, the moment people like Kusturica retire.
Back to Kusturica. Yes, he is politically far right-wing. What is the politics of Le Pen in France that is the politics of Kusturica in Serbia, only more vulgar and more outrageous (he is politically very active for a film maker). His international image is a fraud, a carefully constructed seemingly lefty “anti-imperialism” which is designed to sell rough exoticism to the western upper middle class. In reality, he is far right-wing, extremely religious and bigoted.
In his films he is selling an ugly racist image of the people of ex-Yugoslavia. Beside his open support for Slobodan Milošević during and after the war, and beside his business connections with war profiteers and war criminals (yes, the “anti-imperialist lefty” is a great businessman when he is at home; he owns an entire village in Serbia and is ruthless to the peasants who stand in his way, exploiting them, taking away their property and possessions, like a true right-wing imperialisit would do), there is the nihilism (central to his films) which people don’t like. It is the same racist nihilism which was used as an argument in support of what Milošević was doing in Bosnia. It is an attitude which implies that all people in the Balkans are these crazy, noble-savage warrior-poets*, and they should be left alone, because they are all alike. They don’t want democracy and always killing each other is a centuries old tradition and a natural state for them. The only thing they believe in is blood and ethnicity. Take that away from them and they go crazy. The motto is: “I respect your tribe as long as you keep on hating my tribe like I hate your tribe”. Similar anti-progressive ideology is being presented in films by Nikita Mikhalkov**, a director very similar to Kusturica, and also a member of the political far-right scene, only in Russia.
This anti-humanistic, anti-intellectual argument was a crucial ideological position which was used to prevent any kind of military intervention in Bosnia. “We don’t know who the bad guys are. They all hate each other. They are all the same, so we let them continue the butchery”, even though it was clear that one side (Serbia) was committing a genocide against the other (Bosnia). It is an ideology of the past, of medieval hatred and division. But people do not want to accept a defeat of humanity. They want to believe in something better. Not in the the ideology around which Underground* was built. The problem of that film is not that is claims that Serbs were these noble anti-Nazi fighters while Slovenes, Croats and Bosnians welcomed Hitler (although it does that) but that it eventually concludes that no one is good, therefore you can’t judge who is a victim and who is a criminal. It is a poition convinient to the Milošević’s propaganda machine. A true humanist film would at least declare a portion of all Yugoslav ethnicities as good.
In today’s Serbia Kusturica is a marginal person. He is lucky to have friends among right-wing political elite who often prop up his business deals, but progressive, democratic intellectuals in Serbia will always associate him with the evils of the past. Not surprisingly, Kusturica is very litigiuos and he specialised in suing journalists and other public intellectuals for insulting him and his films by telling the truth about him. But people want progress, openness and freedom, a reconciliation with their neighbours, instead of faux-traditional religious and ethnic tribalism which is offered by Kusturica and the far-right.
Still, his biggest fault in people’s eyes is that he single-handedly created this cinematic racist stereotype about the people of ex-Yugoslavia which Milošević’s ideologues and their friends in the west used as an argument in order to prevent any assistance in spread of democracy in Yugoslavia. Attack on Bosnia was an attempt to prevent democratisation of a part of Yugoslavia (just like Gaddafi’s attack on Bengazi). Then, with help of religious extremists, it was instrumentalised into an ethnic conflict and all the hell broke lose.
Don’t forget that the war was not ethnic in the beginning. Thousands of Serbs fought and hundreds gave their lives fighting on the side of Bosnia, as part of the Bosnian Army, and a general who was crucial for the defense of Sarajevo was a Belgrade born Serb, Jovan Divjak. He, and the fellow patriotic Serbs were fighting for Bosnia because it was their country. They were defending it from Serbia. But not the entire Serbia. There were opposition leaders, intellectuals, artists in Serbia who opposed the lunacy. Some of them payed with their lives.
Now, people such as Kusturica want you to forget this. His only measure of human being is ethnic background. He believes that genetically, Bosnians are islamised Serbs, therefore they can only be Serbs and nothing else (that is why he had to “return” to his “ancestral ethnicity and religion”). And they are only supposed to be loyal to their own original “genetic” ethnicity and no other ideal (be it humanism, democracy, secularism, progress) can warrant such degree of loyalty. Reality proved him wrong, though. People want to move on.
Then there is his racist portrayal of Roma people which he can’t see any fault with, again because of his ideology. In a sense he is saying: “I portray you as ugly child-selling immoral thieves, but I portray everyone like that, and I think savegery is cool, so don’t complain.”.
Then his pathological hatred of Turks which is going to be exposed in one of his upcoming films, “The Bridge on Drina”, based on a novel by Ivo Andrić, which is infamous for being one of the first nationalist works which contributed to the rise of ethnic tensions in Yugoslavia, by showing the centuries old oppression of Serbs by the Turks, which by extention translated into the guilt of Bosnians (but he is ready to take Turkish money when they invite him on a film festival, which additionally explains his fake international brand).
Couple of years ago he led a mob which burned down American embassy in Belgrade (one person was killed), when Kosovo announced its independence. He especially hates America because all about that country proves his mono-ethnic ideology wrong.
In other words, Kusturica is the one who refuses to leave the past and the politics behind, not his critics. That is why he is despised by almost everyone in the entire ex-Yugoslavia, except for the far-right.
And finally, I can’t understand how can a westerner (even a cinephile) defend a person who said that Milošević’s only fault was that he didn’t make a couple of nukes and didn’t bomb London and Paris. His morals don’t stop him from accepting a Palm d’Or from that same France, though. Another proof that his international image is fake.
And when I meet a westerner who likes his films I always have to conclude that such person is shallow and a bit racist if he/she needs to indulge in such racist portrayals of a foreign culture, in order to feel good about him/herself.
As of his career and mediocre sub-Fellini pastishe film making (mix some Fellini and Tarkovsky and spice it with a bit Slobodan Šijan, who originally started the accordeon playing Gypsy cliche), it was the result of pure nepotism “Yugoslav style”. His daddy was a great pal with the major players in the Sarajevo film industry. They put him in film business when he was a teenager, to get him off the street, and without his own consent. Like when other problematic kids are put into football, they put him into a director’s chair and give him a famous playwright to work with. But that’s the corruption of the communist Yougoslavia for you.
P.S. The poster who mentioned that Kusturica might not be an ultra-nationalist because in the early nineties he wanted to fight the Serb far-right leader Šešelj in a duel, it is another misundertanding of one of his media stunts. At the time Šešelj was an opponent of Milošević and that is why Kusturica didn’t like him. After Šešelj reconciliated with Milošević in the late nineties and entered his coalition government, Kusturica readily embraced him. Just last year he was praising him on the Serbian state television as the second best politician after Milošević.
and a nationalistic Greek poster who is a natural ally of the Serb nationalists
Learn how to properly read arguments pseudo-socialist and crawl back to your fucking Germanic hole.
edo, just a couple of remarks
The problem of that film is not that is claims that Serbs were these noble anti-Nazi fighters while Slovenes, Croats and Bosnians welcomed Hitler (although it does that)
If you insert archive footage in a fictional film outside any meaningful context, with no genuine ties to the plot, and if that footage shows Croats as fascists, and you do that in Serbia in 1995, it’s a huge problem, it’s pure propaganda.
In today’s Serbia Kusturica is a marginal person
That’s not true. He’s just sold like a 100.000 copies of his autobiography, in a country where real writers sell 500-1000. Plus, he’s best friends with a huge part of the political elite in Serbia, and the Serb Republic in Bosnia. How else did he get to run a national park? (he doesn’t own a village, it’s more like a mountain)
based on a novel by Ivo Andrić, which is infamous for being one of the first nationalist works which contributed to the rise of ethnic tensions in Yugoslavia
If one wants to interpret Bridge on the Drina like that, he can conclude that we should all be running around killing muslims. But it’s probably not the best way to do it, and Andric isn’t really perceived today as an infamous nationalist. There are right-wing quasi-liberals quoting 1984, doesn’t mean Orwell wasn’t a socialist.
The premise of Underground is stolen from the 1989 film “Bunker Palace Hotel” by the famous French-Bosnian director and comic artist Enki Bilal.
I think it’s actually based on a play by Dusan Kovacevic, though that doesn’t really matter anyway.
You’re right about that rascist element in Underground. The problem is, if you see it as a story about a couple of lunatics doing insane stuff, it’s brilliant, but it isn’t just that. There’s a weird idea inherent in that nationalism in Serbia (Kusturica, Cosic, etc.), they see the nation as a bunch of animals, and in the same time they claim that there is something divine about it (it’s all mud, and one must cherish the mud, something like that). And of course there’s the all sides commited crimes, therefore we/they are all the same argument at the end of the film. We would have to revise the entire history of the 20th century if we espoused that.
Bosniaks/Bosnians/Muslims, whatever you call them, may have the right to say that, since they are generally perceived as the victims and it would be a sort of dissent, but for an artist or intellectual from Serbia, it’s just cowardice.
And the song about Karadzic is just bloody disgusting.
I’ve tried my best to read through all the arguments presented here, but I’m still not sure what the controversy is. I saw Underground as being a film that was just an absurdist story about how irrelevant racial, ethnic, national divisions really are.
Recently watched Underground for the first time, and this discussion has created quite a level of ambivalence within me for the film. By most accounts, It seems that Kusturica is no saint. His ideologies are questionable, and his motivations behind the film are not as clean-cut as one would have hoped. But damned if I didn’t enjoy the hell out of it. And interestingly enough, while watching the film, I also couldn’t help displacing the Serbian context with ones that I’ve personally experienced or am more informed of. For outsiders, the film is ultimately a structural satire. While it specifically happens to be about Serbia, the viewer can also appreciate it in their own context for additional personal effect.
What confuses me is how people have read into the film and come to the conclusion that he was supporting the ruling party’s genocidal policies. He may be no saint, but then again, there are plenty of filmmakers who are the same.
I don’t think people felt he was supporting faulty policies based on his film, but for other reasons.
Yeah, the main gripe against his films is that he portrays the Balkans as some kind of “other” – a wild place filled with fun-loving drunk people with irrational hatreds. Quoth Zizek:
“‘Underground’ is one of the most horrible films that I’ve seen. What kind of Yugoslav society do you see in Kusturica’s Underground? A society where people fornicate, drink, fight – a kind of eternal orgy.”
And that doesn’t actually make Yugoslav society seem so bad….