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Kustendorf: World’s Most Beautiful Woman to Play a Serbian

Jan 23rd, 2013 | By | In Current, Weekend

The sixth Kustendorf International Film and Music Festival was, indeed, star-studded. It was also an event marked by a flurry of requests by hundreds of media outlets around the world, interested in covering the prestigious manifestation. Festival organizers found themselves in trouble, since the accommodation capacities in Drvengrad are rather limited.

A Far More Objective Picture of Serbia

– The last time such a large number of foreign reporters was “in the region” was before the start of NATO aggression, and before that, during the civil war and disintegration of former Yugoslavia, – Kusturica reminded.

– This time around, a far more objective and truthful picture will be sent from Serbia into the world, – Festival founder and host said.

Strikingly Gorgeous Bellucci to Play a Serbian Woman

International film star Monica Bellucci

Hosted by the famous Serbian director Emir Kusturica in Drvengrad, his ethnic village in the heart of Serbia, Kustendorf Festival has wrapped up its sixth successful season. But Emir and this year Festival’s strikingly gorgeous star are just beginning the work on their joint new project.

Italian actress and international film star Monica Bellucci, according to many the world’s most beautiful woman, has accepted a leading role in Kusturica’s new film. She will play a Serbian woman caught in the whirlwind of the last bloody civil war which tore former Yugoslavia apart.

– It is a love story which takes place here, during the war. There will be a lot of violence, but also a lot of love, shown in a poetic way. I’m very excited by the prospects of playing a Serbian woman and in Serbian language, – Bellucci, who became famous worldwide for her roles in Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, Wachowski’s Matrix and Coppola’s Dracula, said.

Already fluent in English, French and Spanish, beside her native Italian, the famous actress doesn’t think learning Serbian will present a difficulty.

– I have seen all of Emir’s films, I follow his work, and Time of the Gypsies is one of the most important films in the world cinematography. There was no need for more references, – Bellucci said when asked what led her to accept a rather demanding role.

Subjugating the Entire Serb Male Population

The gorgeous actress, elected the most beautiful woman in the world by French viewers on a TV show “La Plus belle femme du monde” and ranked #1 in Askmen’s ‘Most Desirable Woman’, first arrived to Banja Luka, Republic of Srpska (Bosnia-Herzegovina), where she was greeted by Kusturica and Republic of Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik. She toured Andrićgrad (Andrić Town), Kusturica’s latest ingenious architectural and cultural project, dedicated to Bosnian Serb Nobel Prize laureate, writer Ivo Andrić.

From the moment she stepped on the Serb soil, Bellucci unwittingly achieved what NATO armada could only dream of – bringing the entire Serb male population, from heads of state, through reporters to ordinary folks, to stand in attention, entranced and blushing like schoolboys. Her unintended entourage was visibly growing every step of the way. By the time she arrived to Drvengrad in Serbia, Bellucci seemed to have all of Republic of Srpska, Premier included, arrive with her.

Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dačić hastily gathered gifts for the enchanting actress and charged from Belgrade to Drvengrad to present them to Bellucci in person, fumbling, blushing and suddenly breaking into incoherent verses. Among other, a valuable reproduction of a famous Serbian White Angel fresco was presented as “an angel to an angel”.

Serbian national television rushed to announce that the “goddess has arrived!”, and it seemed like every Serb felt he should personally greet an Italian beauty, even if everyone kept stuttering in her presence, turning all goofy and dizzy. A few male interviewers who managed to stay lucid long enough to pose an intelligible question were sliding off their chairs during the responses, in daze.

Equally charmed by their prominent guest, who regards herself as a “mother first and foremost”, Serbian women claim to be honored by having such a resplendent beauty representing them on the silver screen.

Kusturica, brimming with pride and joy, awarded Bellucci “for future films”, stressing that her dignified life, character and immense beauty prove Dostoevsky was right when he said that beauty will save the world.

China’s Master Cinematographer Grew up with Yugoslav Films

Zhang Yimou with Emir Kusturica in Drvengrad, Serbia

Kustendorf 2013 Retrospective of Greatness featured the world renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou and a retrospective of fifteen of his masterpieces, including Raise the Red Lantern, The Hero and The Flowers of War.

On a tour through Drvengrad the great director, who arrived to Serbia with his daughter, was most impressed with Kusturica’s town prison, albeit a fictitious one, where his Serbian colleague holds George Bush and Javier Solana (former NATO Secretary General) imprisoned for years, so that “it won’t be forgotten”.

– Emir has told me that, as a student, he was highly influenced by the immediate contact with great cinematic authors, and that is what he wants this festival to make possible for young generation of film authors, – Yimou, author and director of the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, said.

– I believe it is my obligation and responsibility, as well as of all the other authors, to encourage and support the young. We have a saying in China: all that flies as a beautiful little bird is flying to your home too. Meaning, the art is meant for everyone, not only for the privileged. Purpose of this Festival is to show that film belongs to youth, to inspire them to dedicate to cinematography and to work hard, – Yimao said, commenting his impressions of Kustendorf Festival. He also mentioned the possibility of making a movie together with Kusturica.

– I have seen Kusturica’s films and recognized realism, romance and beauty in them. In a way, that quite resembles the Chinese tradition. There is a possibility of us making a movie together, and being that our two countries have exceptional relations, I could come up with an idea and tell Kusturica: Let’s do this together. That would be the fulfillment of my childhood dream, which I had while watching Walter Defends Sarajevo, – Yimao said.

Chinese master cinematographer said he “adored Walter” (played by the popular Serbian actor Velimir Bata Živojinović), and liked the story about the heroic war against fascists. He believes this film marked an epoch.

– At that time there were almost no foreign movies in China, and Yugoslav films were very popular. I remember I knew every word from that movie by heart, we knew all the songs from Yugoslav films. It is an indelible mark on my growing up, which followed me for many years, – said Yimao.

He described Kustendorf as special and unique, predicting it will become the world’s most famous film manifestation in 10-15 years.

– Film festivals are generally highly commercialized and everyone worries only about the commercial aspects. Here, it is quite the opposite. You are surrounded by beautiful nature, at an isolated spot, and everyone here is like a part of a big family. People are relaxed and enjoying themselves, it really is very different, – Yimao said.

…Speaking of Charm

Another special and especially charming guest of this year’s Kustendorf Festival was French actress, famous for her roles in Amélie, The Da Vinci Code and Coco avant Chanel, Audrey Tautou.

– Tautou has shown she is a great actress, – Kusturica said. – She is now entering the stage when a large number of movies she played in is behind her and she has established herself.

It was probably both Tautou’s acting skills, her charisma and playful personality that had drawn unexpectedly large number of people to her workshop. In addition to students and Festival guests, a number of tourists and Mećavnik residents gathered to hear the impressions and suggestions to students by the young French star.

She said she prefers to play strong characters which she considers more interesting.

– Those people are often also vulnerable and I love multi-dimensional characters which contain contrast. A story centered around such individuals usually represents a long journey, – Tautou said.

According to her, everything is bigger in Hollywood and so is the pressure.

– I like the fact that French and European films in general can travel around the world. To me, that is a window opened for a new culture and I believe that is very important for the audience around the world. I love to travel with European films, – said Tautou.

The young actress who delighted everyone with her modesty and magnetic smile, said she was very happy to be in Drvengrad.

– It is a beautiful place, sweet and charming, with lovely landscapes and very nice people, – she said, adding that the Festival represents a unique opportunity for young cinematographers.

– I like the fact that young directors have an opportunity to meet here and present their work. The simplicity and atmosphere of this Festival are quite unique, and I like its purpose and the idea behind it, – Tautou said.

As she was waving goodbye at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, Amélie star said she “loves Kustendorf”:

– I’m carrying the fondest memories from here and I can’t wait to come back, – Tautou said.

Neither can we.


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  • Kustendorf 2009 Highlights

    “Bad movies are indestructible,” said Kusturica, after the reel of Hollywood blockbuster movie Die Hard 4 — ceremoniously buried at the opening of the first Kustendorf Festival last year — suddenly morphed into a Bruce Willis character who turned into a vampire and, to the utter horror of the peaceful Drvengrad villagers, with his super-human strength, broke out of what was supposed to be his final resting place. His cool black jacket caught fire from the candles lit at the annual commemoration of his passing and he turned into a giant torch. Die Hard 5 ran, roared, moaned and groaned, stumbled and fell…


  • Kustendorf 2009

    Right after Eastern Orthodox Serbs end the fast and celebrate Christmas according to the Church calendar, a small ethno village built on the slopes of breathtaking hills in central Serbia by the legendary director Emir Nemanja Kusturica — Drvengrad — will once again turn into a place of living magic by the worldwide film artists such as American independent director Jim Jarmusch, an honorary guest of the second Kustendorf Festival.


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  1. Monica Bellucci and Audrey Tautou, highly intelligent, smart and charming ladies, together with Chinese director Zhang Yimou the Master of the art and world class director, and other famous guests of the sixth Kustendorf International Film and Music Festival, were indeed in the good company hosted by Emir Nemanja Kusturica, a true Serbia’s Knight, great patriot and a gentleman.