Cirkus Columbia

Cirkus Columbia

A scene from CIRKUS COLUMBIA, a film directed by Danis Tanovic. Picture courtesy Strand Releasing. All rights reserved.

Cirkus Columbia (2010/2012)

Also Known As: Circus Columbia

Opened: 02/17/2012 Limited

Quad Cinema/NYC02/17/2012 - 02/23/20127 days
Music Hall 303/09/2012 - 03/16/20128 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Facebook

Genre: Foreign Drama (Bosnian w/English subtitles)

Rated: Unrated


Following the fall of the communist regime in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1991, Divko Buntic (Miki Manojlovic, Irina Palm) returns to his former home after a 20-year exile in Germany. Returning with an attractive young girlfriend, a flashy new Mercedes, a pocketful of cash, and a lucky black cat, things are looking good for Divko. When his cat goes missing things begin to fall apart: trouble with his girlfriend and the fledgling relationship with his estranged son are strained as the entire town scrambles to find the cat and collect the cash reward being offered. Divko's personal tumult finds an unsettling mirror in the country at large with signs appearing that the Bosnian War is coming. As the war looms, tensions run high and Divko must decide whether to stay in his newly reestablished home or leave.

Comments from the Director

Before, During and After

Much of my career in filmmaking has been about war and its consequences. While in the army I filmed it for real, then I made documentaries about war, and those experiences culminated with NO MAN'S LAND, my first feature film. Recently, I made TRIAGE, a feature that deals with the aftermath of war. The story of CIRKUS COLUMBIA actually stops when the war starts. In some way for me, these films make a sort of personal trilogy -- before, during and post war. NO MAN'S LAND takes place during the conflict. TRIAGE, after, and CIRKUS COLUMBIA, before.

Trying To Remember

For a long time, the period before the war belonged to a life I couldn't remember. There was this gap in my mind when I tried to think of the time in my life before the war. It was as if the war overshadowed everything that existed previous to it. I felt as if that time was a lost part of my life. Then, suddenly, a few years ago, for no particular reason I began to remember. Sometimes it would be a smell, sometimes the face of a person I used to know, sometimes a scene of no particular importance. I tried to recapture those moments, connect them to some other memory, but they went away as quickly as they came, leaving me with a feeling of loneliness and frustration.

Helping War Children To Remember

Reading the book "Cirkus Columbia" gave me a fast ride back to that period before the war. It's in no way similar to my own experience, but there is something about that book that touches every Bosnian and Herzegovinian. The book tells stories of people who naively believed that war was not possible here, of neighbors who help each other in spite of mortal danger, of lost youth and new beginnings, of hate that for a while seemed to cover everything and, of course, of love that knows no borders. I hope that adapting these stories to the screen will help other war children to remember.

Denial Is Human

I was attracted to making a film set in this pre-war period because I was interested in the lives of these everyday people in the advent of big historic shifts, the storms of history. I wanted to show how oblivious they were in that narrow space between peace and war. It was, I think, a widespread belief at the time that war would not touch us -- despite the fact that people with flags and guns were marching down every street. I think it's a very human reaction to deny reason and not accept impending trouble. I was also interested in how the ordinary man next door can become a war camp warden, a torturer, a murderer. Somehow during that time, in that shadowy space, something happens and people change profoundly. Common good people can quickly turn into someone else entirely.

Somebody Else's Shoes

Working in Bosnia & Herzegovina again, recreating that particular past brought up so many feelings of nostalgia, melancholy and thousands of why, why, whys. I lived in Bosnia during the time period of CIRKUS COLUMBIA, so I have first-hand knowledge. I was already familiar with the events and the psychology. But making the movie gave me a chance to see those things through the eyes of other people, and that process helped me gain the most valuable insight. This is only possible by putting yourself into somebody else's shoes. Deconstructing all the abstract reasons for war -- ideology, religion, etc. -- and analyzing it in a logical and coherent manner, you'll usually find that the roots of such conflicts are jealousy, greed and fear.

Departure Point for Discussion

My movies tend to be anti-war, anti-violence, anti-nationalist, but I don't know if they have any specific single message. It's more complex than that. But it does please me when the ideas and emotions of my movies stick with the audience and they continue to think about them long after seeing them. I believe that movies should be a departure point for discussion. But I don't try to send out set messages. I just show the world in the way that I see it.

The Other Side

I was happy to work in my language again. HELL was in French and TRIAGE, in English. I guess I could probably make a movie in any language, but it was great to go back to my own...

The area of Herzegovina where we shot is very beautiful. I was very happy to re-discover the landscape, the forests, the cold rivers. It was a pleasure to be there again, not only for the look of the film, but also to be with the people. This part of the world has a very out-of-time feeling... Unfortunately, so much has changed -- irreversibly. I sometimes feel that in 1992, when communism fell, we stood on the edge of a wide abyss. The rest of the world watched silently on the other side. We were forced to jump, but we did not make it to the other side. And we are still falling.

Director's Biography

CIRKUS COLUMBIA is Danis Tanovic's most recent film about war and its consequences. While CIRKUS COLUMBIA is set in the period before the conflict reaches his native Bosnia & Herzegovina, Tanovic's TRIAGE dealt with post-war trauma. The English-language feature starred Colin Farrell as the troubled photojournalist returning home from war-torn Iraq. Tanovic dealt directly with war in his 2001 debut feature NO MAN'S LAND.

Set in the midst of the Bosnian war in 1993, NO MAN'S LAND won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as Best Script prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and European Film Awards. The widely acclaimed film received over 40 international awards, making it one of the most awarded first feature films in history.

Tanovic was born in 1969 in Zenica (former Yugoslavia), now Bosnia & Herzegovina, and raised in Sarajevo. After a diploma in civil engineering, he studied piano at the Academy of Theatre Arts and film at the Sarajevo Film Academy. When Sarajevo fell under siege, he spent two years on the frontline filming for the army. The material that Tanovic and his colleagues produced on these dangerous missions has been seen in many films and news reports about the Bosnian war. In 1994, Tanovic emigrated to Belgium to continue his film studies at INSAS film school and he began making shorts and documentaries.

In 2005, Tanovic made the French-language feature HELL (L'ENFER), from a script co-written by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski. The film starred many of France's finest actors, including Emmanuelle Beart, Karin Viard, Marie Gillain, Guillaume Canet, Jacques Gamblin, Jacques Perrin, Carole Bouquet and Jean Rochefort.

Cast Biographies

Miki Manojlovic (Divko)

Miki Manojlovic's filmography includes over 50 films. He has not only acted in his native Serbian, but also in English, French and Romanian. Recent films include Jerome Salle's LARGO WINCH (and soon THE BURMA CONSPIRACY -- LARGO WINCH TOME 2), Srdjan Karanovic's BESA and Stephan Komandarev's THE WORLD IS BIG. He played Dostoevsky in Giuliano Montaldo's THE DEMONS OF ST. PETERBURG and starred opposite Marianne Faithful in Sam Garbarski's IRINA PALM, for which he received a Best Actor nomination at the European Film Awards.

Miki was born in 1950 in Belgrade into a family of actors. He graduated from the Belgrade School of Dramatic Arts and was acting on stage and in television and film as early as 1970. His role as the Father in Emir Kusturica's WHEN FATHER WAS AWAY ON BUSINESS brought Miki international attention. Miki has also acted in Kusturica's PROMISE ME THIS, BLACK CAT WHITE CAT and UNDERGROUND. In 2004, Miki received the "Pavle Vuisic" Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Yugoslav cinema.

Miki's other regional film credits include Rajko Grlic's THE MELODY HAUNTS MY REVERIES, Goran Markovic's TITO AND I and Srdjan Dragojevic's THE WOUNDS, WE ARE NOT ANGELS and WE ARE NOT ANGELS 2. He played in several films by Goran Paskaljevic -- THE POWDER KEG /CABARET BALKAN, SOMEONE ELSE'S AMERICA, TANGO ARGENTINO and TIME OF MIRACLES. In addition to CIRKUS COLUMBIA, Miki appeared in Danis Tanovic's HELL (L'ENFER).

Miki's other film credits include MORTAL TRANSFER (dir. Jean-Jacques Beineix), THE WHORE'S SON (dir. Michael Sturminger), CRIMINAL LOVERS (dir. Francois Ozon) and ARTEMISIA (dir. Agnes Merlet).

Mira Furlan (Lucija)

Mira Furlan is perhaps best known for her roles in the TV series LOST and BABYLON 5. In LOST, Mira played the mysterious French scientist Danielle Rousseau, and from 1992--98, she starred as passionate alien Ambassador Delenn of Minbar.

Before her US career began in the early 90s, Zagreb-born Mira had become one of her native country's leading actresses of stage, film and television. Mira's early film credits include Emir Kusturica's award-winning film WHEN FATHER WAS AWAY ON BUSINESS, Antun Vrdoljak's CYLOPS, Zivko Nikolic's THE BEAUTY OF VICE, Srdan Karanovic's A FILM WITH NO NAME. Mira emigrated to the US with her husband Goran Gajic in 1991 due to the intolerable political circumstances in her homeland.

An accomplished theater actress, Mira received the Dramalogue Theatre Award in 1995 for her performance in the title roles of Sophocles' "Antigone" at L.A.'s Hudson Guild Theatre and of Lorca's "Yerma" at The Indiana Repertory Theatre.

Before moving to the US, Mira was a member of the Croatian National Theatre and a frequent guest star at major theatres in the whole country. Her roles ranged from Moliere and Shakespeare to Chekhov and Brecht. After a decade-long exile, Mira returned to the stage in Croatia in 2002 to perform the title role in Euripides "Medea" with Rade Sebedzija's Ulysses Theatre Company. In 2004, she made her return to Belgrade to star in Dragan Marinkovic's film TAKE A DEEP BREATH (Disi Duboko). Other recent film credits include Adis Bakrac's THE ABANDONED and Goran Markovic's THE TOUR.