Balkon3 Interview with Goran Gajic, director of “The Fall of Rock & Roll”and “The Storks Will Return”

Have Gun – Will Travel!goran_gajic1_balkon3

Goran, film and music are your life, actually there is nothing else that can describe your life more accurately. So, how’s life?

Fast and furious (laughs)…I live an ordinary life, all these things are normal and they are part of my job. Film and music are very much related and they actually blend into one thing. Music is extremely important for films, it is one of the most important elements of a film and films give another dimension to music, they open other doors and possibilities. So, music and film are very good companions in life.

You live in three different places – America, Europe, the Balkans?

I’ve been a freelancerall my life, that is I work when I have a specific job. As they say in American western movies “Have gun – will travel” which means that a man has to be prepared to leave his life if his work is not connected to the place where he lives.It rarely happens to me and to all directors in general to work in one place … So, my life is a journey, two or three times a year I come to Europe and work. I worked on “The Storks Will Return”, then a few advertisements in Serbia and I found it interesting and a good excuse to come back over and over again…

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How old were you when you filmed “The Fall of Rock & Roll”, your story in the film?

It was our graduation film, for me, Pezo and Vladimir Slavica. With this film we graduatedfrom the film academy.The premiere was in 1989, we worked on it in 1988, just over a year after the changes in Avala film, so I was 26 (laughs).

What was happening then, do you remember the conditions in which you made the movie, what was the environment like?

Well, the atmosphere on the set was great, we worked with a really phenomenal, professional team which was really important for us rookies at that point, because they give us a feeling of security and assured us that everything will be fine in the end. So, we had professionals to assist us and we were lucky to work with brilliant actors early in their careers…Many things happened during the making of the film and later with the film.We were not aware then, but with the passing of time the film got its connotation, meaning, depth and sharpness, and that specific humor, because time really helped this film become what it is.

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Do you agree that the film turned from a joke, an irony into a terrifying reality?

Yes, yes, yes, I think this film was probably the only chance (laughs)for people to stop this thing, a phenomenon which was at its beginnings then and the terrain was being prepared for that… Although I can’t remember exactly how many people saw it in the cinemas across the country, but that whole story was and is very much present now in different shades (laughs).

What attracts you to the Balkans nowadays, what do you find interesting in music and films?

Well, I come from the Balkans and these are my roots no matter what the situation is now, and my friends are here, the ones I grew up with and who I don’t need to explain things to. I waste a lot of time in America explaining who’s who or what’s what, where I come from, what I am, what I want (laughs) and here it is all so much simpler. The Balkans also has all those other characteristics that drive us crazy but they are also very charming and irresistible, the organization is chaotic, hectic, too much alcohol, too much tobacco (laughs)…

Is that good or bad? (laughs)

That’s good, that is good, that is good (laughs).


You directed “The Storks Will Return” which is a hugely popular series that attractsdiverse audiences, young, old, rock’n’roll lovers, folk music lovers… what kind of a story is that?

I believe we drew near to the feeling of nostalgia. I started work on “The Storks” when Bjela (Dragan Bjelogrlic) called me and said “Let’s do something” and then we developed the script for over a year, but I believe that the key ingredient was that loving feeling that defined … not love between me and Bjela (laughs)… although it was there (laughs)… but it was love for all things that have been happening here, love for people, the emotions, lost lives, wasted time… and that emotion made go to extremes in every sense. When it comes to the language a lot of people complained about the profanities, and when it comes to all other things I think that our honest approach to the story made it so popular. Also the fantastic performance by all of the actors who created excellent characters the moment we defined what to do and how to do it. After that it was a real enjoyment though physically exhausting because we were shooting with a relatively short deadline and a relatively small budget.


How did your story with Starigrad Paklenica Film Festival begin?

Well, I came here after I was invited together with Pezo (Zoran Pezo, director of one of the cult three stories in “The Fall of Rock & Roll”) who is a native here and selector of the festival, and then they came up with the idea to organize the 25thanniversary of the premiere of “The Fall of Rock & Roll”. I liked the fact that this is still a relatively small festival but with a good atmosphere and so specifically defined, it is a festival of music film that covers both feature films and documentaries and other forms… I really liked all of this, also I have never in my life been in Paklenica, so this is the first time here and I am totally fascinated with the national park, the rocks. It is really extraordinary.

“Vinetu” was filmed here …

That’s right, Vinetu. I live in America (the USA) and whenever I mention Vinetu to somebody they have no idea who he is because the novels were written by Karl May, a German (laughs) who has never been to America but he wrote a brilliant series of novels that I grew up with (laughs)…

And Gojko Mitic the actor who gained fame by playing the role of Vinetu…

Yes, the actor, of course, all things considered I think that this place is quite inspiring (laughs)


When was the last time you visited Macedonia?

A long time ago, a long time ago. I was there when we toured with“Vesela Televizija” (laughs) and then I didn’t visit Yugoslavia for over ten years after I went to America.

Do you have a permanent bond, something that connects you with this region?

Of course I do. I have friends and family, my mother, my brother who live in Zagreb and all the other relatives there, my relatives in Belgrade, in Vojvodina…

What are you working on at the moment?

Well, at the moment I have several projects at different stages. I wrote a script, actually I wrote a novel by my script (laughs) I went the other way round I wrote a script and at one point it seemed that there will be a film but then I thought like what if that film is never made, I still want to say what I was trying to express and I started writing and wrote a novel. I think that some good chemistry happened again but we’ll see…

Forgive my lack of information, but what is the title of the novel?

It has not been published yet. It has not been published…

Does it have a working title?

Yes, it’s called “I carry your flag”



There can be anything behind that title…

Well it’s a… it is a novel about what I believe is the only hope for progress of society and this planet, because we haven’t advanced much in the last two or three thousand years, since we started counting time (laughs).It is about the fight for personal freedom and the novel, a prequel of the war in Yugoslavia, essentially explains what made that war possible.


Your wife is Mira Furlan, a legendary actress of YU film who does not need a special introduction. She also has a successful international career and you have a son.

We have a son, Marko. He is 15 and a half, he loves music, composes, plays the piano, makes beats, cooperates with various rap artists and that is the only thing he is interested in at the moment. I think, for now, that this is going to be his career. Also, because he is 15 and a half, he is taking driving lessons (laughs).

Ah, yes. You can drive at the age of 16 there

Yes, you can drive a car at 16.

Only on local roads or …

No, no, they can drive anywhere as long as there is an adult in the car with them, although parents let them drive alone sometimes (laughs)


We watched Mira in the megapopular “Lost”series, can you tell us what she is working on now?

She has just completed the first of the series of six films titled “Space Command”. Again it is a science fiction genrein which she became so popular, firstwith the“Babylon 5”series, which is a cult science fiction series, and then with her role in “Lost” which is something between science fiction and a fantasy,if we could define the genre. She also wrote a theatre play “Until death do us part”. It was directed by Miki Manojlovic and it wasplayed in theatres in Belgrade, Zagreb with great success. I hope that you will be able to see it in Skopje. It is a small play with four actors, Miki Manojlovic and three young actresses. Before the play she wrote a book of essays on America “Totalna Rasprodaja” and now she is also writing a new book.


Yes, yes, if there is anything your family lacks that is not art. (laughs)

(laughs) Well, yes, we try as much as we can. You may have read my other book “Hollywood and I”. It is about the fact that no matter how much they are trying to shut us up or ignore as if we do not exist, a man has to fight back and find a way to do something. If you can’t do something because it costs a lot of money than you can sit at the computer and write, and if you don’t have a computer than write on a piece of paper, like you are doing right now (laughs).

Thank you for the interview Goran. It is a great pleasure talking to you.

Thank you, thank you and I wish you all the best in the future. I would really love to visit Skopje and Macedonia.

Darko Chekerovski