You are a part of FEST’s history in more ways than one, as someone who was once a member of the FEST Council, and who used to bring over global stars to Belgrade during sanctions (Jim Jarmusch, Johnny Depp, Beatrice Dalle, Harvey Keitel). Now your latest film “On the Milky Road” is opening the Festival. How do you see FEST today and its significance?
FEST has survived. It is trying to find its place among other festivals in the same way our state is trying to find its place among other states. FEST was an America and Europe’s darling, all of its films were reaching the Romanian and Bulgarian Iron Curtain, and there was not a single actor or author at that time that did not go to Belgrade. When it came to a breakup of Yugoslavia I felt bad and tried to help out as much as possible and support FEST. What is more important, though, is that FEST in its golden age used to mirror world film and it is something that it should continue to do in the future, by presenting the most important work and the most influential authors.
The film “On the Milky Road” received a positive reaction at the film festival in Venice, London, Moscow, Lisbon as well as in Serbia at Kustendorf. What are your expectations when it comes to the Belgrade premiere?
The Belgrade audience has always been the true measure of film’s value. Since that same audience started to follow my work long time ago, I have always tried to make films that provide a thrilling experience. There is no reason for this premiere not to be the best one yet.
Media have paid a lot of attention to the creation of this contemporary fairy tale, as you called it, but I was wondering if you could remind the FEST audience of the basic idea that you had while starting this project.
The idea of this film lies in the secret of love, sacrifice and the idealized form that I have been cherishing from the very beginning. A milkman discovers that a snake likes milk, and a woman who is in love with him does everything to win him over. And just like in real life, he falls in love with another woman. It is not what you long for, but what is destined to be. In a word, this film is motivated by the plot starting from the wrong decision made by a young woman who is in love with Kosta, and who decides that there is going to be a wedding between her brother and the other woman, which leads to the tragic end, since her brother and that woman do not get married; they are murdered in a manhunt pursuing the other one, played by Monica Bellucci. Kosta joins that manhunt, and a huge unrealized love happens between the two of them. In the end, everything resembles Faulkner and his idea from the novel “The Wild Palms”, where one man, unwillingly, causes death of his beloved one, and who, in the moment of despair wants to commit suicide, but then asks himself: if I kill myself, who will remember that woman and our love!”
Did you change the script during the shooting? To what extent did you stick to the plan? How much did you rely on your intuition and inspiration as the prerequisite for creating an auteur film?
Not a single film that moves the soul and thrills people has ever been made exactly according to the script. There are such films, but they are very rare.
Many people are fascinated by the fact that a film star such as Monica Bellucci appears in Serbian film, and a lot of people are envious of you for the scenes that you had with her as an actor. How much did that artistic collaboration mean to you and what will you remember it by the most?
Since I am not such a good actor, but a very good communist, my role was to observe the work around me, Monica Bellucci and Sloboda Mićalović. I must admit that I am thrilled with their performances; it is what helped me be a director and at the same time a communist actor.
After FEST, the film “On the Milky Road“ is going to be a part of the standard film repertoire. What kind of audience do you think it will most successfully communicate with?
I believe that the film can reach wider audiences, since it deals with upsetting and dramatic situations as well as funny situations happening in real life.