"Time of the Gypsies - life ahead", interview in French Magazine L'Express, in November 1989

At 36, he has already quite well fulfilled his life : a golden Palm, and a director prize with Time of the Gypsies.

When Emir Kusturica, in 1985, returned to Sarajevo crowned by his golden Palm for When father was away on business, he was celebrated as a national hero, then his first false step was awaited. Between his rock'n'roll group, his Football matches, and his courses in the United States, the child of the Yugoslav cinema made a pause. To choose, and to film. ”I don't want to work without passion”, he explains, ”and passion requires time ! ”.

Summer 1986 : the Yugoslav press denounces the traffics of gypsy children at the Italian border, Kusturica imagines a first version of Time of the Gypsies. Then he impregnates himself of their manners. ”I always lived in an area of Sarajevo close to the district of the Gypsies ; as of my adolescence, my way crossed theirs. I lived with them, played with them, I flirted their daughters ”.

The shooting, which lasted nine months - time made possible thanks to the American financing, Columbia of the time of David Puttnam - sees a work in constant changes. ”It was seeking itself, I almost lost it. The films are like human beings, similar to those who do them ; sometimes, their life slips between our fingers”. The genius of Kusturica knew how to catch it back, and tells the story of Perhan, a smart teenager, victorious of his enemies and martyr. Sad destiny, and yet fresh and joyful as freedom.

Single film. Between dream and reality. Between Bunuel and John Ford. Kusturica smiles. ”It is by knowing better the Gypsies, introduced by Ljubica Adžović, this extraordinary grandmother, that I approached their symbolism, and found certain images”. Like the geese : ”Because the legend says that they brought, two thousand years ago, the Gypsies from India to Europe. And that today, their wings have been cut”. Or the suspended house. ”What a beautiful symbol ! They survive everything ; even if one pulls their houses in the skies”. Perhaps this is less the subject which interested Kusturica that the aesthetic points of view it permitted : those of a poetic cinema sailing unceasingly between dreams and awakening. Between melo and visionary. ”What is the film about ?” asks Kusturica. ”About family, about promise given ; values, respected or not, which remain, for the Gypsies, only because the magic belongs to their life. Without magic, it's the apocalypse. You simply have to transpose ; our magic, it is the imaginary, the culture, the cinema. But not any cinema.” His cinema requires an ”availability and an emotional collaboration ; it tightens the heart, but makes happy, avoids the folklore, to the profit of a sincere humanism”. Kusturica left Yugoslavia for the United States. Temporarily. He multiplies the projects : a “Crime and Punishment” located nowadays, in Manhattan ; the adaptation of a novel of Jorge Amado. The project will take time, we will be patient. Translation by Matthieu Dhennin

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