Emir Kusturica – great film director
Emir Kusturica is a Yugoslav and Serbian film director. He was a winner at the largest film festivals in Europe, including two Palme d’Or awards at the Cannes Film Festival. He is a Cavalier of the Order of the Legion of Honor, a foreign member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Kusturica is also known as a member of the folk-rock band The No Smoking Orchestra.
Emir Kusturica was born on November 24, 1954 in Sarajevo (now it is the capital of an independent state Bosnia and Herzegovina).
At the age of 18 Kusturica left Sarajevo to receive education. He studied in the prestigious Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (Czechoslovakia), whose graduates at different times were Milos Forman, Jiri Menzel and Goran Paskaljevic. Kusturica made his first films while studying in Prague – short films Part of the truth (1971) and Autumn (1972).
His 25-minute film Guernica (1978) told the story of a Jewish family in the late 1930s. The film won the main prize at the festival of student films in Karlovy Vary.
Back in Sarajevo, Kusturica created two films for local TV. In 1978 he directed the film The Brides Are Coming which, however, was not released. Later Kusturica in an interview published in the book Le petit livre d’Emir Kusturica, said that the film was the bravest act of his life.
In 1979 Emir made film Cafe Titanic based on the novel by Ivo Andric.
In 1981, Kusturica filmed full-length movie Do You Remember Dolly Bell?. It was the first Yugoslav film not in official Serbo-Croatian language but its Bosnian dialect. The film brought Kusturica first major success – prize for the best debut film and the FIPRESCI prize at the International Film Festival in Venice.
In 1985 he made the film When Father Was Away on Business. It was devoted to the post-war years in Yugoslavia, seen through the eyes of a child. The film brought Kusturica Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and a nomination for Oscar and Golden Globe.
His third film Time of the Gypsies (1988) was created with the participation of British and Italian producers. The film was shot in Macedonia and became the first film in the history of cinema about the Gypsies in the Romani language. Kusturica received award for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival.
Kusturica was invited by Milos Forman to lecture at Columbia University. The script, written by Kusturica’s student, David Atkins, became the basis for the English-language film Arizona Dream (1993), starring Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway. The film was awarded the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Later, Kusturica said that he did not want to work in Hollywood any more.
In 1992, the Bosnian War began. Kusturica’s family house in Sarajevo was destroyed, his father died of a heart attack shortly afterwards. The family took refuge in Montenegro. Kusturica returned to Yugoslavia to begin his work on a new film – phantasmagoric film-parable with elements of black comedy Underground on the scenario of the famous Yugoslav playwright Dusan Kovacevic. The film was released in 1995 and brought him the second Palme d’Or at the Film Festival in Cannes.
In 1998 Emir made the comedy Black Cat, White Cat. After that film he played in the band The No Smoking Orchestra. In 2001, the director made a documentary about the group Super 8 Stories.
In 2004, after a long break, he made film Life is a Miracle and was awarded the French prize Cesar.
In May 2007 his eighth feature film Promise me this was released.
On June 26, 2007, the premiere of punk opera Time of the Gypsies, written by musicians The No Smoking Orchestra on the eponymous film took place.
In 2008 he released the documentary Maradona about the famous Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona. The premiere took place at the 61st Cannes Film Festival.
In 2011, Kusturica participated as an actor in the Franco-Greek film Pelican and then left Bosnia to film the English movie Cold Water, which was made by producer Johnny Depp.
In 2014 Emir was awarded Holy King Milutin Order (Serbian Orthodox Church) and Gold Medal named after Fyodor Volkov, and in 2016 he was awarded Order of Friendship (Russia).
Along with Quentin Tarantino he is called the director of the XXI century.
Emir Kusturica is married to Maya Kusturica. They have two children – a son and a daughter. His son Stribor Kusturica is the drummer in The No Smoking Orchestra and an actor.
Emir and Maya are the founders and co-owners of Rasta Films.