Kustendorf, the 16th annual film festival at a time of the ‘new world insanity’, wars, the end of history, culture(s) cancelled, in the post-truth and post – justice world.
Kustendorf, the 16th annual film festival at a time of the ‘new world insanity’ (around us), wars, the end of history, culture(s) cancelled, in the post-truth and post – justice world. Does it make any sense to go on fighting? The original word in Serbian that Emir Kusturica is using here has multiple meanings: to go in fighting, struggling, campaigning and there lies Kusturica’s genius in the choice of words among other thing. Do the culture (and) the art make any sense… does Kustendorf make any sense?
Emir Kusturica, the founder and the design creator of Kustendorf Film Festival up on the hills above Mokra Gora, which all day today is being ‘blizzard-swept’, has been years on end frequented by a high number of world renowned creators of cinematography and culture in general, he is thoroughly convinced that anything he does is highly meaningful and he has no intention of giving up on his mission.
“I am absolutely convinced that Culture will triumph. Because if Culture does not triumph, if Art as an integral part of Culture does not triumph, nothing on Earth will survive. The triumph of Art means the triumph of freedom, but freedom is its undeniable part, in the same way the West tends to name ‘the mindset of the Serbs’ and other local peoples. This is a fight for the survival of Orthodox Christianity, and in this struggle therein, Culture is crucial.
Up there on Mećavnik (1) last week, RT Balkan journalist was talking to Emir Kusturica about the end of history, the end of culture and all the burning issues the great world thinkers contemplate on in this day and age, which can mean the end of civilization as we know it, the end of the world and the end of Everything. ‘The end of ‘something’ should ensue, and perhaps the beginning of something new. When we talk about the fear of Armageddon, we in effect mean the restructuring of the world. But right there are vast expanses of new but very powerful lies before humans.
Here is an excerpt from Emir Kusturica’s speech at the opening night of this year’s Kustendorf Film Festival, The Triangle of Sadness.
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EK: Is there art which is able to save the world? Dostoyevsky asked himself the same question placing beauty at the pedestal. In this moment when we mention Dostoevsky, we should mention ‘the de-Christianization’ of the [Collective] West. We must not forget that Christianity is not a set of abstract goals, ideas and worldviews but the concreteness of God who embodied himself in a human body which does not provide us with the depiction of our life but He is Life. But a human and his/her life pathway are deep-rooted into its time as a wholeness because Man is not merely its material aspect and neither is it only its spiritual aspect nor its mental aspect either. A human is both a spiritual and material being, He is both the spirit / the soul and the body. Dostoevsky offered the vision of a human as ‘more whole’ from that ‘other human’ which is to be recognized as a good consumer by a society at a later stage.
Within these spatial boundaries, the hope keeps smoldering; Art as a loyal follower of the human soul/spirit) will survive in the form of the rebellion of young people in their pursuit for the lost freedom. Many are aware that to be a consumer and a member of the ‘ant colony’ (2), is not the ideal of personal freedom. For religious thinkers the idea prevails that if there is no God, there is no Art; and neither is there freedom because religious sentiments of this sort are the sisterly bond between the two notions: the division into the good and the evil and particularly the struggle against the Evil can preserve Art. The belief in the immortality of an artist and his/her great work is parallel to the belief in eternal soul… and what happens if we do not believe in said notions? What are we up against? Nobody will bother to ask us. We shall be transmuted from organic matter into a non-organic matter – Man, and they are already threatening to do so, and what happens if we in our lifetime forget about Death? I will remind you of a tragicomic ending and the greatest revenge, which await us all in the end. The dying process will entail the pattern which we do not want in as much as we do not want ‘the Colosseum’ (3)we are thrown into, with neither our consent nor our will. We are now entering the end stage, when we are returning to the phenomenon of the new Deadman in the New World Order.
One funeral parlor in New York State has designed and established a ‘wonderful’ method of processing human remains, under the fairy-like title ‘Terramation’, a company which turns the dead bodies of humans into a compost (4) in their ordinary course of business, only to offer the resulting substances for further use for a particular purpose. As part of the introduction of a new order, this US funeral company ‘Return Home’ is doing this as we speak. Pertinent to this, a blogger Elena Kondratieva wrote ‘Asking mankind to return where they came from, this funeral company, in one go, is in fact opening up a new era in human history and it cuts through the Gordian knot of a philosophical and religious nature. Human kind is being offered ‘ the Return Home’, not in an old fashioned coffin with frills and fanfare but in specially equipped containers in the form of ‘compost’. In so doing they confirm the biblical truth about the origin of the first people on Earth out of clay, dust and a sudden self-awareness.
The body of your beloved ‘significant other’ is placed in a half open dish for multiple use with a saucer underneath (the same as with the house pets) filled with alfalfa, straw and sawdust, so as to make sure all the microbes sizzle freely and do their job properly. A month later, the end product is to be crumbled in a special grinder according to the definition of its inventor “under the inverted commas” a cubic meter of soil rich in nutrients, which is then left to undergo the process of “marinating” for a month. After this period, the resulting compost is returned to the family of the deceased, who can use the substance matter of their nearest and dearest as djubre (4). Hence, you can fertilize your garden with your beloved aunt who in her lifetime was a lovely person but in the end she turned into djubre. Yet again, if you had had an uncle who in his lifetime was a djubre, then not even Death will bring about any change in his case. You will be able to pick and choose your own menu: your mum in your soup, your neighbour in your meatballs (5), your uncle in your fried fish. If you are a picky eater, you can sell the compost to your neighbour who might be needing djubre. Therefore, who wants us to be djubre in our lifetime and after our death ? All those who are hard at work decomposing Art…”
- Mećava in Serbian means a blizzard, Mećavnik – a blizzard – swept, heavily snowbound place).
- Ant colony is a metaphor for the huge masses of people globally working hard in despair with possibly no particular aim in life, the same metaphor as that of a melting pot )
- This is a witty metaphor of the Colosseum’ around us by Kusturica meaning the great theatre of life we are all a part of.
- In Serbian the word djubre has these multiple meanings: scum, scumbag, debris, manure, fertilizer, garbage, junk. Thus, there lies Kusturica’s sarcasm – filled humour in his witticisms and double entendre)
- Emir Kusturica here says ‘sarma’, which is a typical Balkan dish but I have translated it as meatballs to communicate his sarcasm in a better, more poignant way.
Hope to see some of you at Kustendorf Film Festival in the years to come and/or visiting Drvengrad, Mecavnik, Mokra gora and Kustendorf.