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March 04, 2005

What? - Were you raised by a pigeon?

It was a joy to read how the acclaimed director, Emir Kusturica, goes off on a British censor.

Emir Kusturica has just finished writing his letter to the censor. "I will not cut my film because, because, because ... because of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz." "What do you think?" he asks me. I tell him that as an argument it has a certain economy and elegance, but it might not be the most practical of approaches. "I don't care," he says. "That shithead is driving me nuts. He is messing with my sleep."

The British censor has asked him to remove a scene from his new film, Life Is a Miracle - a typically full-blooded romance set against the backdrop of the Bosnian war - in which a cat pounces on a dead pigeon. Kusturica had thought it a reasonable metaphor for how idealists and innocents are easy prey for calculating big beasts in times of conflict.

The offending shot lasts of all of two seconds and is about as disturbing as an episode of the Teletubbies. But the British censor said no and Kusturica, one of the greatest film directors in the world, is so flummoxed and upset that he is considering pulling the film from the UK altogether.

I beg him not to. "You don't realise what an emotive issue pigeons are in England," I say, with all the plausibility I can muster. "I am not cutting my film for this jerk," he insists. "Was he brought up by pigeons or something? I love Ken Loach and your football and your working class, but I do not believe the great English culture is going to be undermined by one eastern European cat.

"I just don't get it. The pigeon was already dead, we found it in the road. And no other censor has objected. What is the problem with you English? You killed millions of Indians and Africans, and yet you go nuts about the circumstances of the death of a single Serbian pigeon. I am touched you hold the lives of Serbian birds so dear, but you are crazy. I will never understand how your minds work."

Posted by TangoMan at 12:07 PM