Emir Kusturica Says He Rediscovered the "Universal Language of Cinema, Which Is Now Rarely Used"

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Emir Kusturica

'On the Milky Road,' the Serbian director and two-time Cannes winner's new film, brought audiences to tears at a festival near Belgrade, but it failed to impress critics in Venice.

Serbian director Emir Kusturica, a two-time Cannes Palme d'Or winner, on Monday claimed that his latest film On the Milky Road rediscovers "the universal language of cinema, which is now rarely used."

Speaking after a screening of the film at the annual Kustendorf Film Festival that he hosts in a hillside retreat near Belgrade, Kusturica apologized to the audience for their tears.

"Excuse me if you were crying too much," Kusturica said of the film, a love story set during the Yugoslav civil war, in which he stars alongside Monica Bellucci. "It is a piece of art with which nothing can compare, because the film is made according to a recipe of the past."

The film, the director's first fiction feature in nine years, had brought a very emotional reaction, particularly from Serbian audiences, Kusturica said, according to Russian news service Lenta.

The director, who is known for holding strongly Serbian and pan-Slavic views, has a reputation for making vividly imaginative films with strong statements.

Last year, Kusturica claimed Cannes had rejected On the Milky Road due to his support for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Cannes said the film was rejected because it was submitted a day after the deadline. Later in the year, the director was honored with a Russian "Friendship" award via a decree signed by Putin.

On the Milky Way, set during the Yugoslav civil war and starring Kusturica as a Serbian milkman who falls in love with an Italian-Serbian woman played by Bellucci, premiered in September at the Venice Film Festival, where critics were less than impressed.

The Hollywood Reporter's review noted: "No one enters the universe of Kusturica these days seriously expecting humility, restraint or even nuance, of course, and complaining that On the Milky Road is noisily over-the-top should be filed alongside moans about water being wet."