This Bosnian-born Serbian filmmaker will have my love forever for his film Arizona Dream, his first American film, starring Faye Dunaway, Johnny Depp, Lili Taylor, Jerry Lewis, and Vincent Gallo. I wrote about it for my Film Comment column. The film was butchered for the wider release, and to this day if you want to see the un-edited version (20 minutes were slashed out), you have to resort to bootlegs of the uncut version uploaded to YouTube. I wrote about all that in the piece. His European films get heavy play at festivals, and his films have won the Palme d’Or at Cannes multiple times. Kusturica, a Muslim who converted to Serbian Orthodox Christianity, and who lives in a town that was built for one of his films (you can’t make this shit up), and who continues to refer to himself as “Yugoslav”, is a very controversial figure, most recently because of his vocal support for Putin. Yikes. He attended Putin’s THIRD inauguration. Yikes.
But he’s a major filmmaker and Arizona Dream is a masterpiece, a forgotten and now-butchered masterpiece. It would be so great if this forgotten gem of cinema could get not only a proper restoration, but have those 20 minutes PUT BACK IN. In my piece I go into what was cut – including a monologue that expresses the theme of dreams, which is basically the whole point of the movie. It’s disgraceful. It’s a beautiful film. Look for it on YouTube.