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Belgrade Is Elsewhere, Paradox Of The Serbian Capital

A charmless pariah city for 20 years, the Serbian capital is finally reclaiming its standing and artistry. Belgrade's residents are torn between pride in their city and dreams of leaving it.

Belgrade at sundown
Belgrade at sundown
David Laufer

BELGRADE — Seen from the West, Belgrade is a cliché, an illusion drawn from Emir Kusturica’s films. We can imagine that entertaining mix of trumpets, Kalashnikovs, drunkards, beat-up cars and geese walking through the middle of the living room.

In his films, the Balkan director gave his audience at the Cannes Film Festival what they wanted to see. This illusion was even easier to accept, seeing as Belgrade and Serbia do not reveal themselves easily.

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Mariateresa Fichele

"Dottoré, I know you’re going to say I’m superstitious and strange, you always give rational answers ... but I have to ask you a question: Is it true that ever since our stadium was renamed after Maradona, Napoli doesn't win at home anymore?"

"So?"

"Could it be that Saint Paul, to whom the stadium was initially dedicated, got offended and is making us lose now?"

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