Actor and director Zoran Mrdjenovic: Serbia and Russia have the same values

Zoran visits Russia often. We met in autumn in Irkutsk, where the Baikal International Film Festival “Man and Nature” named after V.G. Rasputin, where he was a member of the jury.

– We’ll do without an interpreter, – Zoran declared at once. – I want to speak your language in order to get to know each other and communicate. I hope you understand my Russian.

Festival of Culture and Art

– “Vityaz Fest” is the largest festival in Serbia, it has been held on the territory of the Belgrade Fortress since 2004. This is an international festival of culture of ancient Orthodox warriors – knights. Film screenings, concerts, art and theater exhibitions take place throughout the week. Participants conduct reconstructions of historical battles, lectures, master classes and round tables. The climax is on weekends, on Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, when many guests from Europe come to us, we hold a fair, musical groups perform on the big stage.

Thousands of people take part in the celebration! It’s just a fairy tale. We dedicate it to our children. In Serbia, Lazarus Saturday is a Christian holiday for children. They come to us in costumes: every boy is a knight, his name is written on the shield, and every girl is a princess, they are in beautiful dresses. Children know that this is a great spiritual holiday. They have pure souls, not corrupted. On the territory of the fortress there is a church of the 15th century, baptisms take place there these days – one hundred children simultaneously undergo this ceremony.

Now we have decided to hold such a festival in Russia. Serbian-Russian. We plan to hold it annually, it will last a week, and we are thinking of changing the place in Russia every time. Let’s start in September 2023, in Moscow, during the days of the Battle of Kulikovo. This is the “twin sister” of the Kosovo battle, which is very important for the Serbs.

After the Kulikovo field we will move to the Donbass. Why Donbass? This is the former Slavic Serbia.

Our partner was the Russian Military Historical Society. We already have a big spiritual program. Our Belgrade “night wolves” (bikers) will bring icons to Moscow, and then Russian bikers will deliver them to Donbass.

The goal is to share our common values, unite Serbia and Russia. We are close people.

The best Serbian musical groups will come – classical (ballet), folk, dance, and will perform together with Russian ones. Recall this historical fact: 250 years ago, Serbian officers were invited by Tsarist Russia to fight together where a special military operation is taking place today. 50 thousand Serbian soldiers arrived. Today, 1 million 250 thousand of their descendants live in Ukraine, in the Donbass.

One of the big problems is that people don’t know much about history today. Our festival will to some extent fill in the gaps, it is historical, artistic, and calls to elevate the strength of the spirit. We want to help young people. A young man with a strong character knows where to move in life, if he falls, he will immediately get up. Life is a struggle with oneself, whoever endures it is the strong one.

We have the same values ​​with Russia. We have a lot in common. We want to show that our Slavic culture is the culture of knights, where a man should be a protector, and a woman should be a princess and, of course, a mother.

We are in the center of Europe, under the great influence of the West, every day we hear about the need to be chipped, we need to open the green light to homosexual minorities … With our festival, we resist such calls.

Film project “Stefan”

Zoran Mrdjenovich also spoke about a film project related to the festival.

– Together with Russia, we will do another project – the film “Stefan”.

Stefan is an outstanding figure in our history. When the Serbs won the battle of Kosovo, the bells rang in Paris, praising the victory. Many do not know today about the Battle of Kosovo. The Serbian prince Lazar Khrebelyanovich died in it. He is survived by his 12-year-old son Stefan. And our story is about him, about the heroic Slavic spirit. The film will tell about the battle of Kosovo and about Kulikovo, and about King Arthur …

I can talk a lot about this – this is my life, I chose this path.

Photo: from the personal archive of Zoran Mrdjenovic

Who is the director? Who will play the main role?

Zoran Mrdzenovic: The film has an unusual concept, it is a trilogy, a number of the greatest world and Russian directors will work. It is planned that Nikolai Lebedev will become one of them. We haven’t named the lead actor yet.

Have you seen Lebedev’s films?

Zoran Mrdzenovic: Yes. “Wolfhound”, “Legend number 17”, “Crew”.

I watch a lot of films from Russia. He was very fond of “The Island” by Pavel Lungin, “Admiral” by Andrey Kravchuk, “The Barber of Siberia” by Nikita Mikhalkov.

What I have noticed over the past 10 years: there are more and more Western co-productions in Russian films, and we do not like these films, to be honest. We love it more when there is a real Russian theme and no Western influence. We in Serbia are waiting for good Russian films.

What prompted you to move in 1999 from prosperous France to warring Serbia?

Zoran Mrdzenovic: I was born in France, spent most of my life there, but never got used to this country… I know that Russians love the French language, France, Paris. The Western spirit is not mine. When I came to Belgrade in the summer, I always enjoyed the sun, people, children, family there, and returned to Paris – and I was alone, it was cold – people were closed there. For me, Serbia and Russia are similar in spirit, mentality, culture, and faith. I missed that in France. And when the bombing started, I came to Serbia. The spirit of a knight woke up in me, I said to myself: be close to your people, at home. I remember how we were traveling from Paris in a bus with a French journalist, saw a column of fleeing Serbs on the border, how tears flowed from me …

key question

You speak Russian, you said that you have been to Russia more than once. Are these tourist trips traditional for foreigners – Moscow, St. Petersburg?

Zoran Mrdzenovic: I have always been very fond of Russians, the Russian soul, Russian culture, art, I listened to your music. I have always liked Russian choirs. When I was young, I enjoyed listening to the Red Army Choir in Paris. (The choir of the Academic Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army named after A.V. Aleksandrov is recognized as one of the best male choirs in the world. – Note. ed.). I remember his speech at the Palace of Congresses, five thousand spectators … During the bombing, I read Yesenin in the Russian House in Belgrade (Russian Center for Science and Culture “Russian House”. – Note. ed.).

We have a pilgrimage department in the Royal Order of the Knights, I head it. For 20 years now we have been worshiping holy places in Russia every year. We were in Moscow, Maloyaroslavets, walked along the Golden Ring (Mur, Diveevo …), worshiped Sergius of Radonezh, Seraphim of Sarov. We were in St. Petersburg, Kronstadt, Tsarskoye Selo, Pskov, Valaam… I know Russia very well. I saw more other Muscovites who do not have the opportunity, like us, to travel all over the country.


Source: Российская газета by rg.ru.

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