The site of the festival is the ethnic village of Drvengrad specially constructed by Kusturica for this purpose. Russian film-makers have also been invited.
The festival is well-known for its informal atmosphere. Emir Kusturica likes to invite both talented youths and world music and film stars to give them an opportunity to talk to each other. He calls Drvengrad ‘creative space’. This is what he says:
“Famous actress Monica Belucci and the leader of Roxy Music Bryan Ferry are coming to the festival this year. Two other guests are Nick Mason and David Gilmour from legendary Pink Floyd. What is important for the young participants in the festival, Director of the British Film Institute Amanda Neville is coming.”
It is a fascinating occasion to show one’s first professional steps to such connoisseurs. It often happens that even student work is shown in Kustendorf which gives the young a chance to be noticed. This is how Russian actress and director Sonia Karpunina was picked out. In 2011 she was awarded the festival’s main prize, the Golden Egg, for her short film The Chance. This year 27-year-old Sonia is Kusturica’s guest for the third time. She has brought a full-length comedy titled Everything Is Easy. Contrary to what the title might suggest, the film shows the complicated relations of young and successful man and woman. This is definitely Sonia’s film because she is the scriptwriter, director and performer of the main part in it. This is her fundamental position in film-making.
This year’s Kustendorf festival will show two more Russian films made by Karpunina’s age-mates. Konstantin Smirnov has made a film showing how people become football hooligans. Denis Klebleyev’s camera follows truck drivers who deliver food for the residents of remote villages of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. This documentary was the young director’s graduation work.
Kusturica’s special attitude to Russia is common knowledge. He visits Russia almost every year. For example, last year he was the head of the panel of judges at the International Film Festival in St. Petersburg. This year he invited Alexei Balabanov with his film Me Tooto Kustendorf where Balabanov is considered the best film director. The film Me Too is a story with five characters who embark in search of the mystical Bell-Tower of Happiness. The film was made practically without professional actors, Alexei Balabanov says.
“The film was meant to be made without professional actors from the very start. The people you see in the film are real people and 80% of the plot are true stories. There is no drama acting in the film, the people play themselves.”
Both Balabanov and Kusturica’s message is to make films for the audience and not for the box-office.