The celebrated Serbian director and two-time Palm d’Or winner, Emir Kusturica, has denied a Russian News Service report that his latest movie, On the Milky Road, was rejected by the upcoming Cannes Film Festival because of his support for the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Kusturica told Screen on April 21 soon after the rejection story was published by several papers, including The Guardian, “I’m just really confused. I don’t know what is going on. I have absolutely not spoken to anybody.”
Kusturica said that it was ‘preposterous’ to say that Cannes had turned down his film. In fact, the Cannes chief, Thierry Fremaux, had watched On the Milky Road as a work-in-progress and had followed the production right from the movie’s inception some three years ago.
Kusturica, who had won the Palm d’Or for his 1985 film When father was Away on Business and his 1995 Underground, added: “The Cannes Film Festival wanted the movie, but we have not finished it.”
A recap: Kusturica has been a very vocal supporter of Putin in recent times. The Serbian auteur -- who is also a singer -- was stopped from performing with his band in Ukraine in 2015. Kusturica had while on an earlier visit to Ukraine, supported Putin’s policies.
Ukraine had been part of the former Soviet Union, but is now an independent country that has a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula. The peninsula, which is recognised as part of Ukraine by the international community, was annexed by Russia in 2014.
The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 11 to May 22, and the truth about the Kusturica episode may unveil during those 12 days of cinema -- which is often peppered with salacious stories that the glamorous Riviera event has been well known since its very early days.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran has covered the Cannes Film Festival for 26 years.)