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I am ashamed of the situation in Serbia – Goran Markovic

The works of director Goran Markovic speak for themselves. Older generations, although younger ones should, remember films such as “Special Education”, “National Class”, “Variola vera”, “Already seen”, “Tito and I”, “Hilarious tragedy”, “Cordon”, “Tour” …

We would not have enough space to list all his achievements. This top director turned 75 on August 24, and in an open interview for “Avaz”, as always, he spoke without a hair on his tongue about current events related to film art, but also politics, mentioning works of recent history.

Psychotic state

He is the son of the great actors Olivera and Rade Markovic, so his success is not surprising, although there were those who hoped for a different outcome.

At the end of the interview, Markovic said:

– Say hello to Sarajevo.

But let’s start over.

We started the conversation with a birthday card, for which Markovic kindly laughed and thanked.

Have you celebrated a birthday, have you been celebrating them at all in recent years?

– Well, no, we celebrated in the circle of our closest ones. I mean it’s not very polite at my age to celebrate a lot of birthdays.

As for the last year and a half, we have all been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. How did you deal with that, “lockdown”, everything that happened, uncertainty …?

– It wasn’t easy, I have to admit right away. I found isolation very difficult, I must say that all the people I know have a hard time with it. These are circumstances that are not known to us at all and to which we are not prepared. I’ve had a really hard time and in a way now, when I’m vaccinated for the third time, I feel lighter and I’m tired of it all. Especially since I lost a friend, very close, right from the crown, composer Zoran Simjanovic. That was the hardest thing for me.

Yes, we have lost many people from the crown in these little more than 18 months as long as the pandemic lasts …

– Yeah, like someone stole a piece of my life.

You say that your insulation has fallen hard. How did you find a way out of it?

– What do I know, everyone manages as they know how. Well, I didn’t do anything special. Luckily, I’m surrounded by people who are tolerant, who love me and I love them, so that made things easier. But in any case, that is unacceptable. I think it’s really already, how to say, psychotic.

Can we compare the coronavirus pandemic to smallpox and, of course, the film you once made?

– It’s the hardest film I’ve ever made, but in terms of filming and in terms of discovering what was going on. Because it’s pretty hidden. But, unlike then, if we exclude the possibility of falsifying numbers here, without telling the real truth, this is still more or less open. It’s harder to hide it today. In the age of digital technology, it is difficult to hide such things. Then it could. And it took me 10 years to find out what actually happened. It was a great shame. In my opinion, that was the moment when that country (Yugoslavia, op. Cit.), Which looked very stable, started to get lost. I think that was the moment when it turned out that she wasn’t quite as perfect as she looked. It was a moment to re-examine things as to why this is so, and they were not re-examined. It’s all tucked under the rug and I’m not sure that’s exactly the reason, but it was a good sign, you know. Something creaked.

Do you think that someone will follow in your footsteps from colleagues and maybe make a film about this in a few years?

– Well, maybe, though, things have changed now. Things are already known now and it will be difficult to hide. Now it is pointless to make a film about what an epidemic looks like. Many films have already been made on the topic of viruses and on the topic of epidemics. So maybe somehow indirectly, maybe something about how it breaks through society, through the family, through the psyche … It’s maybe more interesting than making a list of events that took place.

Many film and TV productions with a long tradition have only included life during the pandemic in the new seasons.

– It has become everyday and it cannot be a topic in itself. It has to be something else topic. Something that is indirectly a consequence of that for other things, but the pandemic itself is the same everywhere and everywhere it is anxious and everywhere it is. This is not a thankful topic.

I am Yugonostalgic

What are you working on now? Do you have the options for that?

– Yes, I do some things. I’m trying at least. Although lately I haven’t had much luck with the local state funds. I’ve been rejected a few times so … It’s not something a man has to take to heart. So, everything is fine, there are no problems.

What kind of movie could you make soon?

There are a few topics I have tried to do. One very ticklish, which I would not reveal yet, because it is not finished yet nor has it entered any production. So to talk about what would happen if it was pointless. But I have one text that I have been writing for a long time, and the title speaks quite well about what it would be. It is again about the fate of the actor, as before, and it is called “Hamlet in Pavilion No. 6”. “Pavilion No. 6” is a famous story by Anton Pavlovic Chekhov, I tried to combine the theme of acting and the theme of madness in that story. So, Shakespeare and Chekhov.

And how do madness and acting go together?

– I was constantly questioning that connection between acting and madness both in delirium tremens and in speech impediment. And in all those topics that dealt with the actor. Not only because my parents were actors, but also because I am a director. I’m just tickled by that topic. It irritates me a lot and I don’t think everything has been said on that topic yet, so I will try to do something there if anyone is interested.

Whenever I read about you, in the introductions you are addressed, not as a Serbian director, but as a Yugoslav one.

– I have to openly admit that I am a Yugoslav nostalgic and I do not understand that as a kind of, what do I know, moans, lamentations, lamentations, but simply that I am like that. To is my concept of life, I was born in that country, I did a lot of valuable things in that country and I loved that country. So, why not be a Yugoslav nostalgic. Somewhere in some parts of the former country, especially here and say in Croatia, Yugoslav nostalgics are considered bad guys. I do not consider myself a villain or a suspect, I have the right to love something and no one can forbid it.

When you talk about that expression, especially public expression, have you ever regretted something you said publicly and that may have had some consequences for you?

There have been various consequences in my life. Both in the time of Milosevic and in this time … Admittedly, in this time I have no, how to say, strong physical consequences, but I have indirect ones. I am simply marginalized in some way. Basically, to be fair, it suits me. Because I would not want to be in this world that I am in right now, in this country that I am in, to be in any active status. Compared to now, being part of that mechanism is tantamount to collaboration. So I just try to be on the sidelines and that no one ever brings me into contact with this, one day when it is analyzed what was happening in Serbia, that no one brings me in touch with these people because, I have to say now something difficult, I am ashamed of this state we are in.

Goran Markovic

We know that you had consequences and that at the time of Milosevic’s policy, of which you were an outspoken opponent, you were characterized as a traitor at the time. And now?

– Only now the return is much more drastic and primitive. Then I thought it couldn’t get worse, it looks like it can. And what can I tell you. I think it not only went back but went even further back. And that the circumstances are much worse now than in Milosevic’s time, at least as far as my environment is concerned. Admittedly, Milosevic took us to war, but this situation is no less, neither better nor naive. So simply, which time is worse, it’s a dead race. In fact, I don’t care which one is worse. It’s bad for me, whether it’s bad in one way or another, it’s irrelevant.

Stories for children

Lately, more and more “rattling weapons”. How much do the shootings of political leaders mean to ordinary citizens?

– Even the most ordinary, the most naive and the most uninformed citizens realized that they are using it, those in power, and that they are manipulating people with constant dangers, threats, imaginary conspiracies … It is simply their way of governing. It is simply the manner of someone who uses human fear and sensitivity for their disgusting goals. That is clear. But it’s not clear to me how people endure it at all and how they don’t oppose it at all, how it doesn’t wake up. I realized a long time ago that there is no possibility for justice to win in these parts, in some fair and honest elections. It’s for small children. That will not happen. It will happen either that people will rebel against it or they will continue to grumble. I am afraid that grumbling is our destiny and that I do not see any forces, at least here, that could oppose.

At the end of last year, a lot was said about your “conflict” with Emir Kusturica.

– I am not talking about that because I do not want to deal with topics that are primitive, to the extent that they are vulgar. I don’t want to participate in it, I’m a man above that.

In July, on the anniversary of the death of your mother Olivera, you published an emotional text dedicated to her. How much influence did your parents have on you?

– They certainly had a great influence. The fact that I grew up in a world that was different from the rest of the world, that was filled with people who were mostly actors. Which is to say, they were people playing. Prone to play, prone to humor, by definition, are such actors. That determined me. I can’t live any differently, except to try to play if I can with something. It determined my life. It is not in some sense that I have learned something from them that I would not have known otherwise or could not have learned otherwise. It’s not. That thing about our work is not learned. You figure it out somehow or not. And I told the students that if they came to learn to be artists, then they came to the wrong address. They could have learned something about education, a craft, but art in itself is a mystery. It’s hard to learn, and even harder to inherit. I know a lot of children of very good artists who failed, who were very unhappy about it. So it can be a curse. But, well, in my case, I don’t think it was a curse because I’m not cursed and in a way I’m happy I didn’t sink into what I was seen to sink into.

Only in Serbia are directors fighting

In the last few days, the focus has been on the conflict between Dragan Bjelogrlic and Predrag Antonijevic.

– I don’t want to comment on that. I have no will for such things. That is the image of this society. A criminogenic state in which such things happen. I don’t know if some Swedish directors would fight at a festival. I’ve never heard that in my life. But with us it is possible. The films have to talk about the director, not the pub quarrels. That’s bullshit. I don’t understand why and why this is happening at all.

Film is a universal language, it doesn’t matter where you are from

– Nobody can record anything on their own. I have not made a single film, and I have made 15 or 16 of them, without someone from the acting, technical or creative team being from Croatia, Bosnia, Northern Macedonia or Montenegro. Because I’m looking for the best man for a particular thing. I don’t care where that man comes from, if we understand each other. Second, film is a universal language, not a local word. When I was a young director, I got a scholarship, so I went to America to shoot. I visited the recording of “All That Jazz” by Bob Fosse. I was amazed at how similar it was to what we were doing. It is that language and way of thinking. You cannot now be guided by whether someone speaks this or that language. That sucks totally, it doesn’t matter. It is harmful that a person deals with it at all – Markovic told us.

Young people cannot manipulate and work according to someone’s taste

Do you see in the young people from your branch the potential we had in the time of Yugoslavia?

– It’s the only kind of future. I worked as a professor in college, and now I work with high school seniors, I’m in constant contact with young people, and I realize that’s the only thing that counts. Everything else is nonsense. However, young people in cinema are doomed to primitivism and darkness. You have to show them, as they say, an honest view of the world. Young people can be dishonest, they can lie, but they have an instinct that they can’t do that. And these elders can manipulate and work according to someone’s taste. Young people can hardly do that.

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