Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 24
Emir Kusturica November 24, 1954
Emir Kusturica born

Emir Kusturica, one of the most acclaimed figures in world cinema, was born on this day in 1954 in Sarajevo, the former Yugoslavian city which is now the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kusturica's fame is founded on the success he has had at the Cannes Film Festival: in 1985, he won the Palme D'Or at the festival for his second feature, When Father Was Away on Business, and in 1995 he won the highly coveted award for the second for his sweeping historical drama Underground. This rare double win put him in truly elite company: only Francis Ford Coppola (The Conversation and Apocalypse Now), Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror and The Best Intentions), Shohei Imamura (The Ballad of Narayama and The Eel) and the Dardennes brothers (Rosetta and The Child) have matched that achievement. Kusturica is a highly distinctive filmmaker who the New York Times' Dan Halpern characterized as the “heir to Fellini's impassioned exuberance”: two of his best-known films, Time of the Gypsies (1988) and Black Cat, White Cat (1998), are about gypsies in the former Yugoslavia and have a raucous gypsy energy to them, while his work is typically epic in both scale and running time. Kusturica's only U.S.-set feature, the oddball yet very beautiful Arizona Dream, features his particular brand of magic realism – in one scene, we see giant fish swimming in the sky – and Underground was described by Los Angeles Times critic Kevin Thomas as a "sprawling, rowdy, vital film laced with both outrageous absurdist dark humor and unspeakable pain, suffering and injustice." In addition to eight fiction features, Kusturica has also directed the documentares Super 8 Stories (2001) and Maradona (2008), and he has also acted in a number of movies, such as Patrice Leconte's The Widow of St. Pierre and Neil Jordan's The Good Thief. Beyond film, Kusturica performs with the Balkan gypsy punk rock band The No Smoking Orchestra.


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November 24, 1948
The Bicycle Thief released

When Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief opened in New York, many heralded it as the finest realization of the Italian Neo-Realist style.

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November 24, 1947
Making a Black List

On 24 November, 1947 –– just days before Thanksgiving –– the House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 to approve citations against the famed Hollywood Ten for contempt of Congress. A month before, the House Un–American Activities Committee (HUAC) had turned its attention to Hollywood, calling up 43 people whom they suspected of communist sympathies, eventually whittling that list down to 11. Of these, Bertolt Brecht agreed to answer questions and immediately left the country. The remaining ten – nine screenwriters and one director – stood pat in their belief that the Fifth Amendment provided a Constitutional right for them not to testify against themselves. The House of Representatives’ vote on 24 November, however, disagreed. The next day, Hollywood joined in, suspending pay for the Hollywood Ten and issuing a joint statement showing their solidarity to fight the red menace. The top studios publicly proclaimed that they would fire anyone who was or had been a communist, and would not hire anyone with communist sympathies (proved or otherwise). Within weeks, scores of studio employees were on the street, pounding the pavement for another job. And the Hollywood Blacklist had officially begun and was in full force.

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