ISSN 2330-717X

Kusturica’s Building Plans Get Stony Response From Trebinje


By Elvira Jukic

Locals in Trebinje are up in arms over the idea that their town should supply old stone for Emir Kusturica’s planned village in honour of Ivo Andric.

Movie director Emir Kusturica’s plan to build a mini-town in honour of famous writer Ivo Andric has hit a new snag, after locals from Trebinje complained that he was plundering their town of old stone to build it.

Stone for the construction of Andricgrad, within Visegrad, was apparently being removed from Trebinje, in southeast Bosnia, until locals stopped workers from doing so, saying they already ruined part of a 130-year-old Austrian building.

Blazo Stevovic, president of the Alternative Club, a non-governmental organization from Trebinje, told Balkan Insight that locals noticed on Wednesday that machines and workers at Petrinja, a site settled above the town, were taking stones away.

“They brought down part of the building,” Stevovic said. “Now we cannot repair it, we do not know how to, nor we have the money to do that.”

Stevovic said that local citizens could scarcely believe someone was removing the stones from there and started gathering in a protest and blocking the way.

On Thursday, the mayor of Trebinje, Dobroslav Cuk, said he had told Kusturica that he could take some stones from around Trebinje, but not from Petrinja.

“The Alternative Club with file charges against Kusturica in person,” Stevovic said. “We know that those workers are from Visegrad.”

Andricgrad is a joint project of the director and the government of Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb entity.

Kusturica will be the largest contributor to the project, while the Republika Srpska will provide part of the funding and the town of Visegrad will provide the location and infrastructure.

“We have tried to contact the [entity] authorities in Banja Luka, but we did not reach them. Someone from the entity level should solve this,” Stevovic said.

He added that local citizens were united in protests regardless of ethnicity. “For the first time in 20 years, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats are united on this,” Stevovic claimed.

The Andricgrad mini-town will include some 50 mainly stone buildings and will be based on Andric’s Nobel-prize-winning book, The Bridge On the Drina.

Construction started in June 2011 and will take four years and will cost between 10 to 12 million euro.

Kusturica last year said Andricgrad will feature stone streets, gates and towers and will include a cinema, theatre, marina, gymnasium, craft workshops, hotels, sports facilities, a new building for the Visegrad municipality, galleries, churches and a han.

He is expected to use the new mini-town in his planned movies Pancho Villa and The Bridge on the Drina. The filmmaker previously built an idealized traditional Serbian village in Serbia near Mokra Gora, called Drvengrad.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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