Đuza lives on with his work

JELENA LEMAJIĆ

Vlastimir Đuza Stojiljković, doyen of Serbian acting scene, played the final scene in his professional and personal life Renata Ulmanski (86), who bowed in front of a numerous audience in Jadran cinema in Subotica, and together with them paid her homage to a great artist, colleague and friend.

When you shot the final scene in the park of the Home of the elderly you didn’t suspect that that would be his last scene. What was working with famous Đuza was like?

No one could suspect that it would be his final life scene. Three days after the scene was shot in that wonderful surrounding with the beautiful, bright and pleasant old ladies, Đuza had a fantastic remark: “Sure they’re all beautiful and bright, but man they’re old”. Just like every time when we worked together, the experience was priceless. Andrić says in “The Bridge on Drina“ that everyone dies one time and the great people die twice, first time when they perish, and the second time when their work perishes. I’m sure Đuza will never die for the second time.

Apart from being peers, Đuza and you collaborated a lot. What memories have you got from that period?        

We bear the memories, it’s the 1929 when Mira Banjac, Ljuba Tadić, Bora Todorović were born. Until recently we called ourselves the iron generation, and then suddenly Bora left us, and now Đuza. We’re not so iron any more. We worked together on a film 58 years ago, it was the first feature in colour Pop Ćira i pop Spira (Priests Ćira and Spira) directed by Soja Jovanović, we played Juca and Šaca.  The film was very successful in, the audience cheered “Juca, Šaca” and the director went on stage and said tha Juca just gave birth to her son, and that Šaca is in the army. Both of us were away then, and I’m immensely sorry that only I am present here in Palić.  That was our first collaboration on a film, but we worked in the same theatres – BDP and Atelje 212. For a long time we played together in “Generals”, with which we received the Sterija Award. He taught me how to act, the part didn’t suit me, and he advised me to learn his lines instead of mine and that it will help me form my own thoughts. He was a match for Mira Banjac, an actor with a capital A, so dedicated to his vocation that he was always the first to know his part and he came to the first rehearsals offering himself in character.

The issue of the elderly is a very present topic. How did you experience STAIRLESS?

It is a gentle and a warm story of the old age of an immensely good man. His illness seemingly disrupts the life of his family, but that’s a misconception, it’s not his fault, their relationships were already broken. Being elderly is difficult in itself; I didn’t know old age will last so long. The most important thing is to understand and accept old age, we shouldn’t be angry with it nor try to hide it. Also, you have to understand the new generations.

As an actress with so much professional experience, is there an advice you have for your younger colleagues?

I can’t gie advice to anyone. Everyone needs to go through their own lives on their own, to find his own paths. I am always happy to see that someone young does his work in a dedicated and serious manner, and this kind of work is very hard, responsible, mysterious, you can’t fall into a rut, it is a constant verification of oneself.

You have been on the stage for seven decades now. Can you compare the time when you started out and the present?

I was 17 when I got on stage, and youth is inevitably combined with optimism and a desire for great progress. Even though it was the time of my youth, it was a really optimistic period when theatres were established and films made. I was fortunate to work with people who had great energy and great faith, like Mira Trailović and Muci Draškić. That optimism started to wane eventually. The conditions today are very hard, I don’t know how much the enthusiasm of the young people can help and change something. Theatre and film are marginalized, and I am sorry that the attitude towards culture is what it is because its importance is priceless.

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01/01/1970

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