Küstendorf Day 3: Happy New (Serbian) Year

The third day of the Küstendorf Film Festival began with Do You Remember Dolly Bell? by Emir Kusturica featured in the Retrospective of Greatness section. This compelling coming of age story — that was selected as the Yugoslav entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 54th Academy Awards — remains a classic in cinema history. Set over a single 1963 summer in one of Sarajevo’s neighborhoods, the plot follows the adventures of  school boy Dino, played by Kusturica’s long-time collaborator Slavko Štimac, who is fascinated by Italian cinema (Alessandro Blasetti’s Europa di notte) and music (Adriano Celentano’s 24mila Baci) and falls in love with prostitute named Dolly Bell, played by Ljiljana Blagojević.

David Oelhoffen

The section Contemporary Trends featured A Gentle Indifference Of The World by Adilkhan Yerzhanov, that was previously screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The films depicts how Saltanat is forced to trade her idyllic countryside life for the cruel city, and how the power of love can affect fear, economic strain and death.

Close Enemies by David Oelhoffen, presented in the Kustendorf Presents New Authors, was previously acclaimed by the 2018 Venice Film Festival, for the way it portrays the story of two childhood friends who end up taking opposite paths: Driss (Reda Kateb) and Manuel (Matthias Schoenaerts). After the screening there was a Workshop with director David Oelhoffen who explained his process in bringing these two characters to life: “My desire was to film criminal life with no lyricism. Thug life is not glamorous and I wanted to be true to reality. Intimate, political, and family conflicts may crystallize in different ways in affluent neighborhoods or brotherhoods, but they have the same complexity everywhere. I co-wrote this film with Jeanne Aptekman and we tried to bring the same amount of dramatic nuances to Driss and Manuel.

The Competition Programme short films kicked off with Elizabeth by Wojciech Klimala the gentle tale about a retired hairdresser who is encouraged by her son to take part in a mature beauty contest, that will reveal much more about the elderly woman. Being More Like Bagsy by Mikkel Storm Glomstein is a powerful metaphor about sustainability through the life of an unemployed woman who finds a new purpose. Costacurta by Saša Karanović traces the adventures of a young man who returns to his mother’s native country and on his way deals with the confrontation of death, courage and love. Titanyum by Gökçe Erdem captures the fascinating story of a a promising young figure skater in 1990s Turkey. The Monk by Zharko Ivanov is set in a small monastery, where a lonesome young monk who spends his days painting frescos of saints on the walls, is tempted by female voices that reach his rocky outpost. The peculiarity about this short is the animation technique that resembles charcoal sketches, that took more than two years to make using approximately 15,000 drawings.

The third Day of 2019’s Küstendorf Film and Music Festival was marked by an exceptional celebration: Orthodox New Year’s Eve Celebration. The Serbs are one of the rare nations whose church continued using the old calendar as the official one, and in accordance with this, New Year’s Eve  is celebrated between the night of the 13th and 14th of January. The bell in the  steeple of the St. Sava Church, in Nikola Tesla Square, rang at midnight. A bonfire heated кувано вино (mulled wine) that was served to all guests, as traditional Serbian dances and the local band welcomed the New Year in the the Julian calendar.

Jovan Pavlovic & Marko Markovic Brass Band merrily performed their repertoire indoors. Throughout his career, Jovan has been actively working on building musical relations and exchange between Norway, Palestine and the Balkan countries. Marko Marković inherited his love for music from his father, the legendary trumpet king Boban Marković, and has collaborated with many famous musicians of Gypsy music with its exceptionally fast tempo and gripping energy that has become one of the trademarks of the area.