May 20, 1985, Emir Kusturica’s “When Father Was Away on Business” won Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the first “Palme” in the history of Yugoslav cinema.
The film /screenplay by Abdulah Sidran and Emir Kusturica/, starring Predrag Miki Manojlović, Mirjana Karanović and Moreno Debartoli, was declared the best work by the Cannes Film Festival jury presided by the great filmmaker Miloš Forman.
Neither before nor after did any film director from the usually excellent production companies of ex-Yugoslavia manage to win another Palme d’Or. The one who came the closest was Aleksandar Petrović with his “I Even Met Happy Gypsies” in 1967.
Yet, for never thoroughly explained reasons, the Festival had never awarded Palme d’Or at its edition that year, leaving Petrović with just the Grand Prix as the highest prize awarded at the time.
Kusturica was going to win another Palme d’Or ten years later for his “Underground” /screenplay by Dušan Kovačević and Emir Kusturica/ starring Predrag Miki Manojlović, Lazar Ristovski and Mirjana Joković.
During Yugoslavia, Kusturica was awarded in Cannes in 1989 for best directing for his “Time of the Gypsies” /screenplay by Goran Mihić/, starring Davor Dujmović, Bora Todorović, and Ljubica Adžović.
Kusturica has also promoted his “Life Is a Miracle”, “Promise me This” and “Maradona by Kusturica” at the festival’s main competition.
Several film websites have ranked “Underground” by Kusturica, “The Conversation” by Francis Ford Coppola and “Padre Padrone” by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani the top three Palme d’Or winners.