Banned filmmaker’s childhood haunt a mystery

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VETERAN Serbian director Želimir Žilnik, famed for his bravery in speaking out about political repression, returned to Fife after visiting as a war orphan in the 1950s but was unable to find the home he stayed in as a child.

Mr Žilnik was in Scotland to present his latest film, The Old School of Capitalism, at the invitation of the Film Centre at the University of St Andrews.

The trip was a long-awaited return for the filmmaker who first visited Fife in the early 1950s as part of a children’s group from controversial former communist leader Tito’s Yugoslavia, after he was orphaned during the war.

He stayed with a family in Anstruther and has fond memories of his time there.

However, 60 years later, he had hoped to rediscover the places and people he remembered.

Unfortunately, he was unable to locate the home in Anstruther where he stayed for a month in the 1950s.

Mr Zilnik spent the time with a family in town who had a young boy of his own age, Douglas Stewart.

DOCTOR

Since then the pair have stayed friends, although Douglas emigrated to Australia more than 30 years ago. His father was a doctor, whose family were well-known in the town, but it is not known whether any of his descendants still live there

Dr Alex Marlow-Mann, of the Film Centre,said: “It was an honour for the university to attract someone of Mr Zilnik’s standing to come to St Andrews and speak to us about his work.

“We had hoped to help him find the home he had stayed in on his last visit to Fife, and if anyone remembers, we’d love to hear from them.”

In a career spanning four decades, Mr Žilnik has achieved widespread international acclaim and numerous awards and festival prizes.

He was an outspoken critic of censorship during the Yugoslav communist era and later, of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in Serbia, through his work.

His work was sometimes banned for its depiction of student protests and messages in favour of free-speech.

His new film, The Old School of Capitalism, deals with the misery-inducing effects of both local and global capital – a theme as relevant to Britain in the “age of austerity” as it is to Žilnik’s own Serbia.