When Father Was Away on Business (Otac na sluzbenom Putu 1985)


This feature is one of 5 best films coming from former Yugoslavia
Emir Kusturica’s second feature (following on from the wonderfully observed Do You Remember Dolly Bell?) opens in Sarajevo during the troubled years following Tito’s break with Stalin and the Soviet Cominform, from 1948 to 1952. 

The title ''When Father Was Away on Business'' refers to a trip taken by the young hero's parent - not a business trip, but a journey to a communist work-correction camps . It also indicates the perspective from which the story is seen by young boy.




The background of the story is set in voice-over  narrative by Mesa's six-year-old son Malik, whose best friend Joza's father was taken away by "men in leather coats" after proclaiming publicly 
"I'd rather have Russian shit than American cake!" 
It is from young Malik's view that the story is primarily  told. His understanding of the arrest of Joza's father is only that "it was something to do with Stalin."


Malik’s father, Mesha, criticizes a cartoon in the party newspaper, and as punishment is sent to work correction camp.The fact that Mesha’s brother-in-law, a stern, bureaucratic Communist Party official, shares Mesha’s interest in the same young women only seals Mesha’s fate. As a result of his misdemeanor he is sent work in a mine, while the rest of his family is left to manage on its own (They will  eventually  later join Mesha in  this work-correction camp in small eastern town in Bosnia).


Film follows the family through this crisis and then their return back to Sarajevo to some kind of normality again; it also captures some of Malik's formative experiences, including his first stirrings of love . 

"When Father Was Away on Business" ("Otac na sluzbenom putu")  is winner of the Golden Palm at 1985 Cannes Film Festival.





 when father was away on bussines (1985)



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