China’s cultural resilience, spiritual outlook inspire Serbia to firmly choose closer ties: director Emir Kusturica

A still from the film Black Cat, White Cat directed by Emir Kusturica Photo: AFP

A still from the film Black Cat, White Cat directed by Emir Kusturica Photo: AFP

Although Serbia and China are geographically thousands of miles apart, the distance between the hearts of the two peoples is close. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping said the Chinese people have always cherished a special bond of friendship with Serbia, when attending a welcome banquet held by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, on Wednesday, noting that Serbian athletes Novak Djokovic and Nikola Jokic, and movie director Emir Kusturica are household names in China.

Although films like
The Bridge, Walter Defends Sarajevo, and
Underground are beloved by Chinese audiences, who draw inspiration and spiritual strength from them, for Kusturica, affectionately known as “Uncle Ku” by Chinese movie fans, his connection with China goes beyond the passion for and emotion evoked by movies themselves.  

In June 2016, the internationally recognized film director appeared in China as the Jury President for the Golden Goblet Award’s main competition at the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival, coinciding with President Xi’s historic visit to his homeland. In 2024, before Xi’s second visit to Serbia, Kusturica returned to China as the Jury President for the Tiantan Award at the 14th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF). 

In a recent exclusive interview with the Global Times, Kusturica expressed his firm belief in the friendship between China and Serbia. 

“I think President Xi’s visit will bring us more opportunity to develop cooperation between the two countries… I hope that this brotherhood friendship will continue,” he told the Global Times.

Bright future 

Kusturica has always been pleased that the movie
Walter Defends Sarajevo, in which he made his debut on the big screen when he was  just 18 years old, “had been seen by almost all Chinese people.”

Born in 1954 in Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia, Kusturica has witnessed significant historical events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of Yugoslavia. Known for his films’ revelry, absurdity, and dark ­humor, Kusturica incorporates ­carnival-style performances and vibrant colors that evoke nostalgia. His works, offering a balm for emotional wounds and sparking contemplation on Serbia’s grounding, also make him one of the few cinematic masters to have won awards at all of Europe’s three top events – the Venice Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival.

He believes that the “Slavs seal” on his movies serves to make difficult subjects more poetic and humorous than in other meticulously crafted films. 

And when discussing crafted movies with the Global Times, Kusturica also openly expressed his confidence in Chinese cinema, praising the quality and popularity of Chinese films and foreseeing a bright future for the industry.

Serbian director Emir Kusturica?during an exclusive interview with the Global Times Photo: Lin Xiaoyi/GT

Serbian director Emir Kusturica?during an exclusive interview with the Global Times Photo: Lin Xiaoyi/GT

Kusturica has also visited local film schools and witnessed the abundance of talented filmmakers and well-equipped facilities. 

“I believe that in China, you will have a chance to develop your stories with these talented people,” he said.

“The civilization of China is different from Europe, but it has a lot in common with other civilizations,” Kusturica said, noting that “seeking common ground while preserving differences” has been well represented by China’s film industry, 

According to his observation, in China, people are increasingly realizing that culture is actually at the forefront of civilization, and Chinese films have successfully defended their own culture. 

“It is very wise to tell Chinese people’s own story, and develop China’s own film industry, rather than blindly imitating Europe and America,” Kusturica said, adding that American movies, in many cases, “[their high box office] comes together with the military power.”

Against the backdrop of a tumultuous history and a reality intertwined with joy and sorrow, Kusturica has always used movies to contemplate grander themes such as politics, war, nationality, and history. 

Solidarity in new ‘bombardment’

In Kusturica’s view, China can present the world with different philosophical reflections.

Making a movie is not like making an atomic bomb and then throwing it into the world causing harm to many people, but it is about observing people’s behavior and caring for the public, Kusturica said at the film master class held at the BJIFF on April 24.

“Twenty five years ago today, NATO flagrantly bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, killing three Chinese journalists. Shao Yunhuan, Xu Xinghu, and his wife Zhu Ying… The China-Serbia friendship, forged with the blood of our compatriots, will stay in the shared memory of the Chinese and Serbian peoples, and will inspire us to march forward with big strides,” President Xi wrote in his signed article prior to his arrival in Serbia.

During the interview with the ­Global Times, Kusturica also mentioned this “very dramatic moment.” 

“Currently, China’s development scale is huge and has gained discourse power in many fields. Some countries try to suppress China’s development. However, in this context, I still see China persisting in defending its cultural traditions and see Chinese movies expressing the cultural perseverance and spiritual outlook of the Chinese people,” Kusturica emphasized. 

Kusturica believes that China’s economic scale and soft power are the country’s most powerful defenses, and are continuously demonstrating positivity on the global stage. 

During the master class, Kusturica said he saw Chinese people traveling around the world, and “they did not bring gunfire and bullets; they brought peace, and brought a continuous potential for development to other countries.”  

In 1999, NATO bombed Yugoslavia. Then, the relations between China and Serbia continued to move forward due to the deep intersection and resonance of historical destiny, political ideals, and national emotions.

Twenty five years later, Kusturica believes that the friendship between China and Serbia can still bravely bear a new form of “bombardment” together.

Kusturica said he hopes China will get stronger, noting that Serbia “could certainly be closer to you” than it is now. 

Russia and China Working on Sustainable Moon Bases: What Do We Know About Them?

Establishing sustainable closed-loop research facilities capable of maintaining life on the Moon is an ambitious task only two countries have come close to so far.

Over the last 50 years, Russian and Chinese scientists have managed to create virtually autonomous systems to sustain life in outer space.

The lunar bases in focus are China’s Yuegong-1 (also referred to as the Lunar Palace) and Russia’s BIOS-3.

Both are environmentally closed facilities capable of supporting a long-duration self-contained mission with no external inputs other than power.

At first, researchers and designers faced serious issues in providing adequate life-support on a space station. However, the problem could now been solved thanks to the introduction of nutrient-dense foods, allowing for long-term research missions in the harsh and barren environment.

Check out Sputnik’s infographic to learn more!

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

Sources: open data Image: AI-generated

 

South Korean visitors in China surge 909% year-on-year in January as inbound tourism rebounds

Photo:VCG

Photo:VCG

South Korean tourist arrivals in China rose more than nine times year-on-year in January, data released by the South Korean authorities showed, indicating a clear recovery in inbound tourism in the post-pandemic era, according to media reports.

Experts said that multiple factors are driving the growth, including China’s enhancement of tourism promotion, and they predict that international arrivals, including from South Korea, will rise.

Since the end of the pandemic, South Korea’s overseas travel has gradually recovered. In January, 142,000 South Korean citizens visited China, a surge of 908.7 percent year-on-year, with a 9.3 percent increase month-on-month, people.cn reported on Tuesday, citing data from South Korean Ministry of Justice.

The main reason for the substantial rise was that in the same month last year, China had just adjusted its inbound tourism policy and there were relatively few tourist groups as a result, Song Hyun Taek, director of the China division at Modetour Network Inc, a South Korean travel agency, told the Global Times.

The situation quickly changed, and starting from April 2023, the number of South Korean tour groups visiting China began to increase rapidly and has been continuously rising ever since, Song said.

The rebound of South Korean travelers is an epitome of China’s inbound tourism recovery. China’s inbound tourism has resumed in an orderly manner as reflected in the booming trend at several major tourism attractions in the country. 

For example, from January 1 to February 27, Zhangjiajie, a popular destination in Central China’s Hunan Province, received 98,462 inbound tourists, up 34 times compared with 2023, according to CCTV.com.

Many South Korean travel agencies have introduced tailored tourism products for trips to China, with major airlines expanding routes to and from China.

For example, Korean Air is set to resume flights from Incheon to Zhangjiajie and Zhengzhou, Central China’s Henan Province by the end of April, while Jeju Air has announced plans to resume flights from Incheon to Shijiazhuang, North China’s Hebei Province this summer.

The downgrade of the pandemic response encourages South Korean travelers to go abroad. Geographical proximity also plays a significant role, which makes traveling relatively cost-effective, Zhang Huizhi, vice dean of the Northeast Asian Studies College at Jilin University, told the Global Times.

China’s recent enhancements of tourism promotion, including visa-free policies for certain countries, have been instrumental in drawing foreign tourists to the country, said Zhang.

Places like Zhangjiajie are among the most popular group tour destinations, according to statistics from HanaTour, a South Korean travel agency. Beijing, Hong Kong and Macao are also among the top popular destinations.

In addition to the appeal of natural scenery, there are several main reasons why South Korean tourists favor Zhangjiajie. These include the influence of movies and TV dramas, the international standard of tourism facilities such as road signs in the Korean language, as well as the availability of Korean-speaking tour guides, an employee with the China Tourism Office in Seoul told the Global Times.

The China Tourism Academy predicts that the foreign inbound tourism market is expected to recover to 50 percent of 2019 this year.

Global Times