The 22-film competition for the Cannes Film Festival’s top honours drew to a close Saturday with an offbeat comedy by Belgrade-based director Emir Kusturica. Promise Me This tells the story of a young man, Tsane, from a small remote hilltop village being dispatched by his grandfather on a journey to sell their cow and to find a wife.
Tsane embarks on his journey against the backdrop of a round of noisy brass-band and accordion music and a wacky plot which includes the plans by the mafia to build a new World Trade Center in Serbia.
“It’s like the craziness as observed by a crazy guy,” said Kusturica, who has already won the festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) twice.
“Today, even if we are older, we are becoming more like global retarded teenagers who don’t ask questions, who don’t ask deep questions, and I’m still trying to do a little bit of this,” the 52-year-old Kusturica said.
While he may have acquired celebrity status in the international cinema world, opinion about him and his works is divided in the former Yugoslavia, in particular in his native Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Against the backdrop of the bloody events during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kusturica abandoned his homeland, sided with the Serb cause and renounced any connection with Sarajevo.
Taking the Palm d’Or for Promise Me This would make Sarajevo-born Kusturica, the first ever director to win the festival’s top prize three times.
The Cannes jury, which is being presided over by the British director of The Queen, Stephen Frears is due to announce its decision on the world’s leading film festival’s awards on Sunday.
But the decisions of film festival juries are notoriously difficult to predict, and the competition for the Palme d’Or still appears to be a tight race between a handful of films.
This includes the thriller by US director brothers Joel and Ethan Coen No Country for Old Men and Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days about repression during the dark days of Nicolae Ceaucescu’s reign.
Other possibilities include Persepolis, an animation movie about coming of age during Iran’s Islamic revolution, which has led to complaints from Tehran.
US painter-turned-director Julian Schnabel‘s moving The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon), on the life of a man trapped inside his own body has also won plaudits in Cannes.
The same is true for Secret Sunshine by leading Korean director Lee Chang-dong which tells the story about a women’s emotional decline under almost unbearable personal pain.


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