TIME OF THE GYPSIES (Emir Kusturíca, 1988)

Dazzlingly made by Emir Kusturíca (best director, Cannes), Dom za vešanje (which is in Serbian)—literally, Home for Hanging—is a gripping, engrossing Yugoslavian melodrama about Perhan, who descends into petty crime to pay for his crippled sister’s hospital care and for the house he wants built for himself and his grandmother. It is also a colorful, […]

LIFE IS A MIRACLE (Emir Kusturíca, 2004)

Although there is much to like about it (a good deal of the film is hilarious, and its boisterousness is life-affirming), Emir Kusturíca’s Zivot je cudo goes on too long, thins out, and romantically ends allegedly happily, but with a romance involving one character whom we have ceased to care about and another we have […]


The Informbiro period in Yugoslavia began with the rupture between Tito, the nation’s dictator, and Stalin in 1948. It was a politically slippery, dangerous time. In 1950 a sarcastic remark that Mesa Zolj makes to his mistress about a published political cartoon reaches the attention of Zijo, a Party official, who is both the woman’s […]

BLACK CAT, WHITE CAT (Emir Kusturíca, 1998)

Emir Kusturíca once challenged Serbian nationalist Vojislav Šešelj to a duel. The right-wing leader declined but has since been indicted by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. He and Kusturíca both come from Sarajevo. Kusturíca is a Bosnian Muslim.      Kusturíca’s most accessible film is Crna macka, beli macor. It revolves around two (what we […]

DO YOU REMEMBER DOLLY BELL? (Emir Kusturíca, 1981)

Although it lacks his later magic realism, Emir Kusturíca’s Do You Remember Dolly Bell? (Sjecas li se, Dolly Bell), in Serbo-Croatian, is a deeply satisfying, heartaching film about a Sarajevo family in the early 1960s, during the time of Marshal Tito’s Communist Yugoslavia. It is especially about sixteen-year-old Dino (Slavko Stimac, sweet, charming, perfect), the […]