It’s a pleasure to join you tonight in the screening of this extraordinary film.
I want to congratulate the organizers of the Belgrade Film Festival for offering this city’s film lovers such a creative, thought-provoking menu of films from around the world, including dozens of movies produced in America.
Your selection committee this year showed enormous insight. This year’s lineup of films included Milenica, which won the OSCAR for best actress, Covek iz Senke which won for make-up, Sapata Ulice [check name] which won for best supporting actress, and, or course, tonight’s film, Green Book, which won best film, best original screenplay, and Mahershala Ali won the OSCAR for best supporting actor for his brilliant portrayal of the pianist Don Shirley.
You might know that the United States also marks African-American History Month each February. This is a time where American citizens remind ourselves of the important achievements and contributions African Americans have made throughout America’s history, but also a time to reflect on what a difficult journey this has been, from slavery to Civil War, from segregation to the civil rights movement.
The era portayed in today’s film reflects a period of time in our history when segregation was common throughout the Southern states in my country. Hotels, restaurants, schools, movie theaters and bus stations, even water fountains, churches and graveyards, were separated on the basis of color. This was indeed a time when America was on the wrong side of history.
The Green Book was a guide to help travelers navigate that period – where they could stay, eat, be entertained. It was a Michelin Guide for African-American travelers in the segregated South.
American society is still grappling with some of the issues you will see in Green Book. Sapata Ulice offered another painful glimpse at race relations in the United States. Through cinema and film, we gain better insights into our world, our society, and the human dramas that lie at the heart of these political realities.
So enjoy the film, and Zivio FEST!