This article is based on the Sputnik interview with Dušan Kovačević, a renowned Serbian dramatist, film director, screenwriter, author and academic.
Sputnik: Dusan, our previous interview ended with the statement that more monkeys entered into ‘a taaaank’. It appears that your admonitions have come true. Let me ask you at the beginning of this interview how close to disaster are we indeed?
DK: The fear of the war in Ukraine turning into the Third World War, God forbid, is so present everywhere that anybody in their right mind feels that it is on the brink of a huge catastrophe. Particularly now after the official visit of Xi Jinping to Russia and after their tacit agreement to create a joint defense in case anything happens, that tension is growing particularly with the information that munitions with depleted uranium will be delivered to Ukraine. We have gone through that in Serbia and many warn of the fact that in some places where these weapons were deployed the cancer deaths have been on the rise by 1000 %, not 100 % but 1000%. So, the shipping of ever bigger and more destructive weapons into Ukraine, as Dmitri Medvedev said this morning is getting nearer a nuclear war. People keep talking about it and warning of its threats. However, Ukraine has turned into a war zone and a war polygon to try and test many different weapons. People are scared in principle and this war has caused this cataclysm: economic fear and then these demonstrations (in Europe) now. Nobody wants to admit it that it is directly related but they talk and make up all sorts of reasons but in fact, that is it: when the energy resources become more costly which have been primarily supplied from Russia, there is now a chain of new price increases and thus the protests all around Europe and the world.
Sputnik: It could be said that depleted uranium is the weapon against the Orthodox Christians.
DK: It could be called many different things but I would reduce it to one thing: sickly proposal. Whether it is exactly on that territory with the majority of Orthodox Christian believers, yes there is enough reason to believe that, due to one fact which we went through in the 90s. My sentiment is in the case of the war which occurred on the territory of the Former Yugoslavia and this war in Ukraine. These are unfinished conflicts of the Second World War. You know, there is an issue I talked about a long time ago and I can tell it again. You know when you have a wound, and the wound is the Second World War and Nazism. That is a most awful wound in the body of the world, and not only Europe. And you don`t clean the wound completely (medically) but you only apply a bandage on it, the way it was done after the First and the Second World War, that is why that wound gets infected and it has to be amputated. And that story of Nazism has never been completely defined for what it is. There has been no law on genocide and it was introduced at a later stage. But they managed to wriggle out; and then there came a ban on arms for one hundred years, and then that was canceled; And Germany which is remembered for its evil doing, among others, in the region of Mačva, Serbia, where I was born which suffered most horribly by Germany in between the two world wars Mačva was almost burned down to the ground out of hatred and revenge by the Nazis. In Šabac in 1914 and 1915 there was not one single house left unscathed. Everything was demolished and the atrocities which were committed entered the medical annals for their beastliness. So I myself am painfully aware of what Nazism means.
I first encountered the phenomenon of Nazism when I was a child when I started primary school, one beautiful day in September, my teacher Natalja Ikodinovic, whom I still clearly remember unlike many others the names of whose I forgot later, she came to school to teach in a blouse with short sleeves and I saw a number tattooed on her arm at which I felt appalled because I did not know anything about these figures on her arm. I asked my parents why my teacher had numbers on her arm, which I would normally see on problematic people (i.e. ex cons, tough guys): tattoos in general.
My parents told me that it was a number from concentration camps but they did not want to explain any further. When I grew up, I found out she was in Dachau for four years. I still remember that image of the number on her arm as shocking as something I never saw before and then another relative of mine who also was in a concentration camp said that a person who raises their arm in a Heil Hitler, Nazi salute should have his or her arm cut ‘. Why? Because they were forced to raise their arm in a Nazi salute in the concentration camp. He told me that he seriously thought of cutting his arm to not have to salute to the Nazi commander in this way. These horrors which I portrayed in Battle of Cer, I World War, Maratonci, Bombing of Belgrade in Ko to tamo peva (Who is singin’ over there), and Underground, my movies and TV series and all the atrocities which is then again related to the movie Prica o Vasem ocu. Some scenes with the animals in the Underground were shot in the Belgrade Zoo and Vuk Bojovic, the then Director of the Belgrade Zoo helped us immensely to adapt the space for a month; we were shooting some scenes in one part underneath Kalemegdan Fortress but the animals in the movie were from the Zoo.
Vuk Bojovic told me about the horrors when a bomb struck a dark corridor where people from Dorcol came to hide and all of them died sadly (in 1941). So this same history is now re-emerging back and when I hear Germany is being asked if they should send weapons to Ukraine and they cheer for Ukraine and then some people who pretend to be 'very important and smart' seem to frivolously express their views, then I keep wondering how come they are even allowed to carry weapons? I would not allow the Germans to carry a slingshot in their hands', let alone firearms. They would have to, by all standards of humanity, be disarmed and not even be allowed for a century to use knives when they have lunch. However, in all levels of social communication, we are now talking about the war and we are now talking about the fact that they voted in Germany that young people should not choose their gender of preference until the age of 18. So, one very serious mental disorder has taken over Europe and the world.
Sputnik: Is EU driving the bus with blindfolds on? And who is Misko (the young and stubborn blindfolded bus driver in the movie) in the distribution of roles in the political arena today?
DK: It takes all sorts. They come and go. From one year to another, from one period to another. They simply pretend everything is all right but in all that narrative especially now since the war in Ukraine began that amount of aggressiveness and threats is brought to an absurd level. The top of that absurdity is the denunciation and threat that Putin will by some strange miracle (though I am not sure how) would be caught and brought before the ICC, which by the way nobody respects.
Sputnik: What is your comment on this piece of news? Should it be viewed as a tragedy, comedy or a TV drama?
DK: I view that as if it were an episode from Alo Alo TV series. This somehow looks like that: a game show. It is so frivolous, cynical and ludicrous. Finally, that threat against Vladimir Putin only raises the tension and the level among the Russians to understand that they are up against the people who are seriously problematic.
Sputnik: Which world characters nowadays would you compare your characters Marko and Crni from your movie Underground?
DK: Nowadays, when you think about it, there are many of them, today the manipulation of one group of people who keep the others under delusion in the proverbial underground (a metaphorical basement in the film itself) is to me rather close to U.S. politics. I am not talking about the U.S. population in general where each week there is either a domestic violence crime or something similarly brutal. I have listened to the news even this morning and some children were murdered and then some people were killed and then a suicide but what is so strange is that the delegates from the White House keep threatening Russia and China (regardless of their own internal national problems), which are nuclear powers with one third of the whole population in the world and which possess the weapons which nobody even knows what they have. The most highly advanced weapons are not on display on the fairground, surely. It is hidden away from the public gaze.
And they dare threaten Russia and China after having fled from Afghanistan when the Taliban stormed there in beach flip flops. The U.S. even abandoned their allies there and left them to suffer and die. This is absolutely absurd, abstract and unreal. On the other hand the tensions grow because of the nuclear arms which about ten countries have at this point. The story of North Korea is illustrative enough. If North Korea did not have nuclear weapons, Kim Jong-un would be most brutally executed in the same way Gadafi was and many other world leaders. But they are afraid of him because they possess extremely powerful and precise weapons and Kim Jong-un is not afraid of anybody either.
The world is going step by step towards the brink of abyss. I am not sure if there will be anybody in their right mind to stop it and invite everybody to gather at the round table to discuss and negotiate. Each war regardless and they normally last for four years (it has been calculated by the military tactics experts why the war normally lasts for four years: the economy can withstand the pressure, the population can, the number of casualties can) after that they have to sit at the table and negotiate with ten, twenty or like in the first and second world wars with 50 million deaths at hand. Generally we are not in a good place in the whole world.
Sputnik: Your movie Maratonci trce pocasni krug (i.e. the Marathon runners are running an honorable race) has been a cult movie for fifty years now and it seems that it has no intention of stopping being shown and gaining ever more popularity. And now to draw this interview to a close, who do you think will win in this war?
DK: The polarization of the world is ongoing and we are witnessing it but it is not abundantly clear whether we shall experience a definite division but we also can see the fact that the new blocs and the new spheres of interest are in the making. The world will never be the way it used to be. The world will split. Russia and China will go in one direction together for sure. The EU, or at least what the names are of those countries there, will take the other direction, provided that they do not disintegrate by themselves because of the protests and strikes and serious turmoil they have on their own personal national levels. The USA will get isolated at some point because nobody will listen to the U.S. any more as is already the case, and another powerful bloc will emerge: so called the Third World countries – because of the economy and their huge populations. We have to be aware of the fact that the most densely populated country is India with 1 billion 400 million people plus Pakistan with 1 billion 600 000 million. They are becoming not only a military, heavily populated power but economically powerful too. We are yet to see what will happen in the future.