News 02 Apr 13

Kosovo Organ Trafficking Inspires Kusturica Film

Renowned Serbian film director Emir Kusturica has announced that his new movie will deal with human organ trafficking, the focus of a current high-profile trial in Kosovo.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN, Tanjug, Koha Ditore
Belgrade

Emir Kusturica speaking at a protest in

Belgrade | Photo: YouTube screenshot

Kusturica said that the film would revolve around ideas from the books of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky but would focus on what he described as "one the biggest issues in this century".

"That issue is the removal of human organs, the most brutal act and the biggest sign of a return to pagan times," Kusturica explained to Tanjug news agency on Sunday.

Alleged organ harvesting in Kosovo became an international scandal following the release of a report by Dick Marty, then human rights rapporteur at the Council of Europe, in December 2010.

The report alleged that some elements of the Kosovo Liberation Army, including Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, had trafficked the organs of prisoners during the late 1990s conflict.

An investigation by the EU Special Investigative Task Force started in 2011, but no legal charges have yet been laid.

In another case, seven ethnic Albanians and two foreigners are currently being prosecuted in Kosovo for allegedly luring poor donors to the Medicus clinic near Pristina with false promises that they would be paid up to 15,000 euro, removing their kidneys and selling them to rich transplant patients.

Kusturica ‘persona non grata’ in Kosovo?

President of the Union of Film Artists of Kosovo Lirak Celaj sharply reacted to the news that Kusturica will shoot a movie about organ trafficking by saying that “he cannot be called an artist” and should be banned from Kosovo.

“Kusturica is a director that writes scripts for the Serbian government, and has supported Milosevic’s regime. He should be sanctioned as ‘persona non grata’ in Kosovo,” he told Pristina daily newspaper Koha Ditore on Friday.

He argued that Kosovo society should strongly react against what he described as Kusturica’s anti-Albanian propaganda.

Kusturica has spoken about the proposed movie several times over the past week, saying that his idea is to shoot most of the scenes in Russia, as the majority of the plot is set there, while the Kosovo scenes will be filmed elsewhere.

"The idea for the movie is in fact a scenario that my daughter wrote at a time when we were all in disbelief about these events, and then slowly begun to understand that it is probably the biggest issue of the century," he said.

He added that he will probably work on it for the next three years because "it is a big project and it demands big preparations and investments".

Holding a lecture for students on the University of Nis on March 27, Kusturica said that Kosovo was a great untapped topic for literature and film.

He also complained that most films present a dark image of Serbia to the world - "even Hollywood-made movies with great film stars such as Richard Gere and Penelope Cruz, and not to mention Angelina Jolie's movie 'In the Land of Blood and Honey'".

He said that all these films failed because "it is impossible to base a great artwork on false facts".

"Some even try to depict Serbian people as more genocidal than Germany in World War Two. It is vicious propaganda. I do not want to defend anybody's crimes, including Serbian ones, but I cannot understand how can someone compare events in WWII with what was going on during the break-up of Yugoslavia," Kusturica concluded.

At the moment Kusturica is preparing to shoot another film under the working title 'Love and War', starring Italian actress Monica Bellucci as well as Kusturica himself.

According to the director, the shooting of this story about a man at various stages of the war will start on June 15 and last until the end of October.

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Background

Kosovo's Organ-Harvesting Controversy

Here is a sequence of events leading up to the organ-trafficking charges in Kosovo and the release of the Council of Europe report.

Fatmir Limaj, Kosovo's Road-Builder

Corruption allegations have not dented the popularity of the KLA- fighter-turned-PDK politician who has made it his mission to transform the country’s traffic arteries.

KLA : From Guerilla Wars to Party Plenums

The Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, was an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group that came to the fore in the mid-1990s, demanding the unification of Albanian territories in former Yugoslavia with Albania.

KLA Ran Torture Camps in Albania

The Kosovo Liberation Army maintained a network of prisons in their bases in Albania and Kosovo during and after the conflict of 1999, eyewitnesses allege. Only now are the details of what occurred there emerging.

The Drenica Group

Crime gang allegedly headed by Prime Minister Thaci is said to have run a range of mafia-like enterprises, from cigarette smuggling to trafficking in organs.

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