Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival


Edition 2021


Official Selection

Emir Kusturica - Filmmaker, screenwriter, actor and musician

Emir Kusturica

Filmmaker, screenwriter, actor and musician, Emir Kusturica was born in Sarajevo, in 1954. His unique filmography is a celebration of life and cinema, characterized by an intense magical realism, which still addresses the problems of the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia and the Balkan War.

He studied in Prague, at the prestigious FAMU, the Czech state film school, making two feature films that gained him immediate notoriety and recognition: Do you remember Dolly Bell? (Silver Lion for First Work at the Venice Film Festival, in 1981) and When Father Was Away on Business (Palm d'Or in Cannes, in 1985).

His first major commercial success was Time of the Gypsies, in 1988, which was followed by Arizona Dream (1993), a tragicomic deconstruction of the American dream, starring Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway and Jerry Lewis, which consolidated the passionate exuberance of his obsessive vision of cinema and the world, heir to that of a Fellini.

Kusturica's universe is populated by a culturally complex array of underprivileged, bizarre and marginal characters (of different ethnicities, religions and nationalities), in which a myriad of animals invade the plot, contributing to thickening the duality of reality and fantasy which is characteristic of his work. Often true, the stories light the fuse of the movies' imagination, to which are added the oneirism of levitation, the sensuality of desires, the operatic intensity and the euphoria of the music, giving the films a unique audacity and energy.

His most famous film, Underground (1995), with the suggestive subtitle Once Upon a Time There Was One Country, is a parable of Yugoslav history, which won a second Palme d'Or at Cannes. In 1998, Black Cat, White Cat (with music composed by the No Smoking Orchestra, a band founded in 1981, which Kusturica joined in 1986 and that has since then scored his films) received the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival.

In 2001, he directed Super 8 Stories, a documentary about the No Smoking Orchestra, and in 2004, Life Is a Miracle, which earned him the César 2005 for best film in the European Union. He returned to fiction with Promise Me This, in 2007, and, in 2008, he releases Maradona, a documentary about the Argentine football legend.

On The Milky Road
(2016), his first feature film in nine years, premiered at the Venice Film Festival, bringing together Kusturica and Monica Belluci, in a peculiar (and real) love story, set against the backdrop of the Balkan War.

In 2018, he returns to documentaries with El Pepe: A Supreme Life, a look at the life and legacy of the former president of Uruguay, José Mujica.

Other jury

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