When Father Was Away on Business (Serbo-Croatian: Otac na službenom putu, Отац на службеном путу) is a 1985 Yugoslav film by Serbian director Emir Kusturica. The screenplay was written by the Bosnian dramatist Abdulah Sidran. Its subtitle is A Historical Love Film and it was produced by Centar Film and Forum, production companies based in Sarajevo.
|When Father Was Away on Business|
|Directed by||Emir Kusturica|
|Written by||Abdulah Sidran|
|Produced by||Mirza Pašić|
|Starring||Moreno De Bartoli|
|Edited by||Andrija Zafranović|
|Music by||Zoran Simjanović|
|Distributed by||Scotia International Filmverleih (1985) (West Germany)|
Cannon Film Distributors (USA) (subtitled)
Hollydan Works (2007-2008) (Non-US)
Koch Lorber Films (2005) (USA)
|Box office||$25,053 (West Germany only)|
$16,131 (USA only)
Set in post-World War II Yugoslavia during the Informbiro period, the film tells the story from the perspective of a boy, Malik, whose father Meša (Miki Manojlović) was sent to a labour camp. When Father Was Away on Business won the Palme d'Or at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
In June 1950, a local neighbourhood drunk Čika Franjo serenades field workers. He sings Mexican songs, out of self-preservation, figuring it's safer for him to steer clear of songs originating from either of the two dominant global superpowers — the United States and Soviet Union — in the current climate of Cold War. Yugoslavia is experiencing a paranoid repressive internal apparatus looking to identify and remove enemies of the state in the wake of the Tito–Stalin Split. The local children, including Malik, climb trees and play around. Malik's mother Sena tells him that his father is on a business trip, while Malik is a chronic sleepwalker. His father, communist functionary Meša, was in fact sent to a labour camp by his own brother-in-law, Sena's brother Zijo, who's an even higher positioned Communist functionary. Meša had made a remark about a political cartoon regarding the Tito–Stalin Split in the Politika newspaper.
After a while, Meša's wife and children rejoin him in Zvornik. Malik meets Maša, the daughter of a Russian doctor. He falls in love with her, but last sees her when the ambulance takes her away.
At the wedding of his maternal uncle Fahro, Malik witnesses his father's affair with a woman pilot. She later tries to commit suicide by using a toilet's flush cord. Sena reconciles with her brother Zijah, who's been diagnosed with diabetes.
- Moreno de Bartoli as Malik Malkoč
- Miki Manojlović as Mehmed "Meša" Malkoč
- Mirjana Karanović as Senija "Sena" Malkoč (née Zulfikarpašić)
- Mira Furlan as Ankica Vidmar
- Mustafa Nadarević as Zijah "Zijo" Zulfikarpašić
- Predrag Laković as Franjo
- Pavle Vujisić as Muzafer Zulfikarpašić
- Slobodan Aligrudić as Ostoja Cekić
- Aleksandar Dorčev as Dr. Evgeni Liakhov
- Silvija Puharić as Masha Liakhov
- Emir Hadžihafizbegović as Fahro Zulfikarpašić
- Davor Dujmović as Mirza Malkoč
- Eva Ras as Ilonka Petrović
- Jelena Čović as Nataša Petrović
- Amer Kapetanović as Serjoža Petrović
- Zoran Radmilović as Brko Pilot
- Tomislav Gelić as Hamdo Malkoč, barber
- Zaim Muzaferija as the President
The writer Danilo Kiš described the film as "an artistic and moral endeavour."
In The New York Times, Janet Maslin credited the film for " a humorous, richly detailed portrait" of its characters. Time critic Richard Corliss said the film was worth seeing despite the lack of glamorous settings or characters. Variety staff called it "rather witty commentary" and compared it to Czechoslovak comedy films in the 1960s. John Simon of the National Review described When Father Was Away on Business as "a film of undaunted honesty and unswerving intelligence, borne out aloft by humor, heartache, satire and compassion-an unbeatable combination".
In his 2015 Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin awarded it three and a half stars, praising it as "Captivating". In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter ranked it the 26th best film to win the Palme d'Or, citing it for depicting how "humor and the almost mystical power of family trumps all."
The Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa cited this movie as one of his 100 favorite films.
When Father Was Away on Business marked Emir Kusturica's first time winning the Palme d'Or, the highest honour at the Cannes Film Festival. He won his second in 1995 for Underground.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Academy Awards||24 March 1986||Best Foreign Language Film||Emir Kusturica||Nominated|||
|Cannes Film Festival||8 – 20 May 1985||Palme d'Or||Won|||
|David di Donatello||1985||Best Foreign Director||Nominated|||
|Golden Globes||24 January 1986||Best Foreign Film||Nominated|||
|National Board of Review||27 January 1986||Top Foreign Films||Won|||
|Pula Film Festival||20–27 July 1985||Big Golden Arena for Best Film||Won|||
|Golden Arena for Best Actress||Mirjana Karanović||Won|||
- ^ "When Father Was Away on Business". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ Đerić, Zoran (2009). Poetika srpskog filma. Banja Luka: Besjeda. p. 250.
- ^ Maslin, Janet (28 September 1985). "FILM FESTIVAL; 'WHEN FATHER WAS AWAY'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 23, 2018. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ Corliss, Richard (21 October 1985). "Cinema: Memory Movie When Father Was Away on Business". Time. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ Staff (31 December 1984). "Review: 'When Father Was Away on Business'". Variety. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ Simon, John (2005). John Simon on Film: Criticism 1982-2001. Applause Books. p. 94.
- ^ Maltin, Leonard (2014). Leonard Maltin's 2015 Movie Guide. Penguin. ISBN 978-0698183612.
- ^ Staff (10 May 2016). "Cannes: All the Palme d'Or Winners, Ranked". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ Thomas-Mason, Lee. "From Stanley Kubrick to Martin Scorsese: Akira Kurosawa once named his top 100 favourite films of all time". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
- ^ Holdsworth, Nick; Kozlov, Vladimir (21 April 2016). "Emir Kusturica, Rep Deny Controversial Cannes Comments". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ "The 58th Academy Awards (1986) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- ^ "OTAC NA SLUZBENOM PUTU". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ Nash, Jay Robert; Nash, Stanley Ralph; Ross, Stanley Ralph (1987). The Motion Picture Guide ... Annual. CineBooks. p. 377.
- ^ "When Father Was Away on Business". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ "1985 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ "Timeline". Pula Film Festival. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
- ^ "Mirjana Karanović". Pula Film Festival. Retrieved 24 June 2017.