You know him as the man who can express all feelings and portray any scene without a single word. Marko Stojanovic, our famous actor, pantomime artist, professor of communication skills and the founder of the curling sport in Serbia talks in his interview for 011info about growing up with movies on the big screen, his acting studies, attending the prestigious Marcel Marceau pantomime school in Paris and reveals what it's like to defend the national colors at the European Championship.

What are your earliest childhood memories?

My first memories are not related to Belgrade at all. Namely, when my late father, an architect by profession, was assigned to Libya, we moved there in 1974 back when I was three years old. We lived 250km from Benghazi, where the Yugoslav primary school was located, so I studied at home with my mother all the time. I went there at the end of each semester to take my exams. I believe that this also influenced me to become a campaigning student, which came in handy at university.

I also remember that every time we flew to Belgrade, I was always bothered by the tobacco smoke on the plane. If you can imagine it, back then you were allowed to smoke on the plane. This is what the great theater practitioner and theorist Konstantin Stanislavski would call a core memory. But it was enough to cross the border of Yugoslavia for me to feel as if I had arrived home. To me, Yugoslavia and Belgrade were the same - my home. However, the symbol that told me that we had really arrived home was the tower in Avala. That is why I am extremely glad that our fellow citizens rebuilt the tower after the bombing. Even to this day, whenever we return from a family trip, I repeat like a broken record: "Here's the tower on Avala. It means we've arrived home." (laughter)

It's interesting that, as a child, you had a very unique desire when it came to your career.

I grew up in Terazije. I was born at 10 Marsala Tita street, today called Kralja Milana street. It was the building of the Serbian-American Bank, across the street from the Old Court, that is, the City Assembly. During my high school days, I dreamed of being the mayor of Belgrade because my job would be right across the street from my house. Imagine living ten steps away from the office. Isn't that the ideal of every Serb? (laughter)

Marko Stojanović


Do you miss anything from that era?

I miss cinemas, which are now almost exclusively in shopping centers. For me, the "Zvezda" cinema was four buildings away. At five minutes to eight I would go check what was on the repertoire, I would talk to my friends on the phone and, at a minute to eight, we would meet in front of the cinema.

In addition to "Zvezda", nearby there were also the cinemas "Odeon" and "20. oktobar", which had two halls. It was reserved for watching Bruce Lee movies, which I would later retell in every possible way with movements and sound effects, and all of that lasted twice as long as the movie itself. In the relative vicinity were the cinemas "Kozara", "Kosmaj", "Jadran", which is now a cafe, but as of recently also serves sandwiches. (laughter)

So, I miss going to the cinema of the old times, not what it has become - first you see all the shop windows, and only then the movie.

It seems you were quite the film enthusiast.

Yes, I really loved watching movies. My record is eight in one day, four of them in the cinema and four on video cassettes at home. The VCR was an integral part of my upbringing. We bought the first one while we were in Libya in 1976 or ‘77, with twenty cassettes. Since I was homeschooled for the first two grades of elementary school, I watched a movie every day. I ended up knowing entire dialogues by heart.

The movies that marked my childhood were "The Dirty Dozen", "The Magnificent 7", "Party" with Peter Sellers, "The Wild Bunch", "The Guns of Navarone". I think that's the origin for my love for acting, although as a kid, it was never on my mind. I planned to become a programmer. Specifically, I was interested in computer graphics and animation. This was thanks to the Sinclair Spectrum 48K, which was given to me by my parents in 1984. For the first three months I just played on it. When I got tired of it, it ended up in a drawer until I bought a BASIC book and learned to program. The first serious program I made was a cassette database for video clubs and I sold it to the video club "ST", where we were members.

By the way, my father intended to open the first video club in the city with his family friend, Radoslav Ralet Zelenovic, who was then the editor of the TV Belgrade film program, and later the long-term director of the "Yugoslavian cinema". However, they had neither the time nor the motivation to acquire cassettes, and then duplicate them on 20, 30, 100 VCRs at the same time, and so the story was over before it even began. And we could have the first video club in Belgrade. Later, these videographers became film distributors and producers.

Marko Stojanović glumac


Do you still do programming to this day?

No, I'm completely out of the loop. But technology has always been in my life. My father loved Hi-Fi and VCRs, we even had a camcorder at one point. Now I just follow the computer technology and admire it, while I follow the cameras and cameras with my son, who will soon graduate from FDU, majoring in Film and TV Camera.

Speaking of technology, the first play in the FRY that had an official presentation on the Internet was my pantomime play "Waiting for the Sky" in 1998, which I recently revived for the Zemun Monodrama and Pantomime Festival on the twenty-fifth anniversary of its premiere.

What else do you remember from that time?

I keep coming back to cinemas because I believe they are very important for social life. In the past, each Belgrade municipality had its own cinema, theater and cultural center. Karaburma had "Slavica", Vozdovac had its own cinema of the same name, which has been closed for who knows how many decades. Rakovica had a cultural center, which despite everything somehow survived and is very active. "Sumadija" was in Banovo hill, and "Yugoslavia" and "Fontana" in New Belgrade, then Odeon, Avala, Drina, Slavija, Partizan, Zvezda, Central in Zemun.

I firmly believe that our children were deprived of that affordable cultural life, but also of school extracurriculars, which were mostly free in my time. I tried all the possible extracurriculars that I had at school: from astronomy and physics, through traffic knowledge and cycling, singing in the choir, to history and aeromodelling, and I also danced folklore. In addition, you could practice several sports for free within the school. Today's kids don't have that available. Hence, I think they are deprived of broadening horizons and general culture, but also empathy and a sense of community.

Although everything is now available via the Internet, we still do not know how to distinguish between what is information and what is knowledge. Simply, we got lost in the sea of ​​everything and anything. It is a key problem, but not only here, but all over the world.

I'm not in favor of accepting all world trends, but rather innovating and coming up with ideas ourselves. That's what I've been doing all my life. I have no problem being either the first or the last in something, but I cringe at mediocrity. That's my biggest fear. Maybe that's why I never got a job in the theater, and it's not that there weren't any offers. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to choose what to play.

You actually got an offer while you were still studying, didn't you?

The first opportunity for acting engagement came right after my graduation, when "Atelje 212" invited me, as well as my classmates, Nikola Koja and Anita Mancic. However, as soon as I defended my thesis, I went to Paris to take the entrance exam at Marcel Marceau's pantomime school. So I missed the chance to become part of the "Atelje" ensemble.

Marko Stojanović pantomimičar


It is interesting that you started your career in a very prestigious company at a very young age.

It's a long story. We became friends with the aforementioned Ralet Zelenovic, then editor of the film program of Television Belgrade, at the pedestrian crossing. I was waiting for the traffic lights with my mother and I recognized "Uncle Rale" who was in charge of VHS tapes in "Politika". I pulled my mother's sleeve and not at all subtly told her that it was Rale Zelenovic "the uncle with the VHS tapes". As soon as he heard, he asked, "How would you know what a VHS tape is, kid?!" (laughs) And that's how we became friends.

Through him, I also met the late Bojan Selimovic, who was the editor at radio "202", more precisely the editor of "Index Radio Theater". As I was always noisy at home, performing various movie scenes and breakdancing, and I performed the robot really well, Bojan asked my parents to send me to the recording of the show "Index's Radio Theater", which we back then almost religiously listened to every Sunday lunch time. I don't think there is such a popular show today, either on the radio or on TV.

Well, he left me there, saying, "This little guy knows sound effects. See what you’re going to do with him." And he went to my parents to talk to them in peace.

The “Indeksovci” crew gave me a few sentences of text to read and they liked it. Each time I got a few more lines and I ended up recording four shows with them when I was only 14-15 years old. There I collaborated with Slobodan Bicanin Bic and Branislav Petrusević Petruci, who were the OGs, and with Draguljub Micka Ljubicic, who was fresh blood, as well as with Nenad Radulovic from "The Last Butterfly Game", and the brother of Dejan Deki Pantelic, Milan Mica Pantelic, who was later their manager, was in charge of organizing the show.

Later, word got out at parties about my performances in "Index's Radio Theater", which helped me with girls. Unlike my friends, I was not very good at communicating with the opposite sex. I clearly remember my classmate, who is today the head coach of the USA water polo team, Dejan Udovicic, for whom a word or two was enough to take a girl out for a drink. Incredible! (laughter)

Therefore, I turned to what I was good at, which is humor. I became the class clown, making the audience laugh with jokes and jokes. Before long, my lines were being retold at parties and I became a star. Honestly, I liked being important in my friend group.

Did that affect your decision to enter the Academy?

I attended the same high school as my mother. It was the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Third high school, today called Sveti Sava high school in Resavska Street. In the second grade, I joined the drama club for the first time. I even acted in the school play. I played Vuk Karadzic in the play of the same name, complete with the wooden leg and a stick. On that occasion I met an older student who suggested that I try out for the Academy. At the time, I didn't even know which school he was talking about. Only ETF or PMF were on my mind. But then he mentioned to me that I don't have to wait until high school to enroll because his brother also enrolled at FDU without finishing high school, my imagination was tickled.

When I told my family my intentions, a collegium of family friends gathered. Rale Zelenovic, Bojan Selimovic and his sister Bojana, Zoran Simjanovic and his wife Ljiljana were there and they started making preparations for my enrollment. Among other things, they forced me to learn Hamlet's speech for actors, but I dodged it on the excuse of my obligations at school.

In the end, I didn't prepare at all. Campaigner. For the entrance exam, I took on the role of Vuk Karadzic and made a monologue, recited the song "Jablanovi" by Ducic, which I learned in Serbian language classes, while I did Radovan III, which I knew by heart from a VHS tape, as a comedy. On top of that, I had a handful of imitations. By the way, only when I read "Radovan III" did I realize that the part I did for the entrance exam did not exist in the original text, but was an improvisation by Zoran Radmilovic. (laughter)

The entire time my parents were trying to talk me out of it up until the moment I went to the reception, so that I wouldn't embarrass myself. It was inconceivable to them that I would appear there unprepared. However, I ignored all that and I applied. I went with my friend Dejan Videnovic Vidra, who kept my fear at bay and they accepted me. At the same time, I was auditioned by Professor Predrag Bajcetic, who was considered an eminent figure in the field and an extremely strict and demanding pedagogue.

A few years later, I was preparing the play "Musica" with Milenko Zablacanski for the festival in Edinburgh. And by some providence, at the airport I met my friend Nenad Savic, who persuaded me to apply for the Academy. It turned out that his brother was my colleague in the play, Vladan Savic, whom you can see today in "The Game of Fate".

So Vladan Savic is to “blame” for my acting education. (laughter)

Marko Stojanović Fakultet dramskih umetnosti


How did pantomime enter your life?

I did not choose it, I swear, just as I didn’t choose acting! (laughs) Even of all the clubs I attended in school, drama was not among them. It all started in the first year of my studies, in the stage movement course. The lecturer was the late professor Dragoslav Maks Janković. It was about a very stout man, with a bad leg, who once, after a lecture, told me to stay after class so he could show me pantomime.

A small digression, since the first year I still remember the student canteen, which always had extremely tasty food: from cold dishes to cooked ones. All of it was prepared by three cooks, the so-called three Stanas. I liked the desserts the most, more precisely minions and the pink ones. They were huge, filled with rum, topped with a raisin, and by far the fastest selling.

Well, I was in a dilemma: should I stay at the pantomime or hurry to get the pink petit fours. (laughs) Since I was raised to respect authority, I couldn't refuse the professor. So, Max Jankovic recognized in me a tendency towards physical expression - I deliberately avoid the word "talent" here - and planted a seed in my head.

He taught me classical pantomime, which I knew nothing about before. Over time, I began to associate pantomime with movies, primarily comedies. I watched Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. The latter more so because it had an emphasis on acrobatics, not gags.

When Professor Jankovic passed away, he was succeeded by his assistant, Ferid Karajica, who wrote me a recommendation for Marcel Marceau's pantomime school in France. I also received a recommendation from the local legend of pantomime, Ivan Klemenac, who excelled on RTS in the early 80s. In the end, I got to know him, I was even supposed to do a show with him in Mexico, but unfortunately it didn't work out. And so I went to Marcel Marceau in 1991.

What led to you going to Paris?

Actually, everything started when Rade Markovic Jr. moved from Novi Sad to Belgrade. Nikola Koja and Uliks Fehmiu were his friends, so in order to be with them in class he returned the year before. Rade and I soon became a comedy tandem at the Academy. Once word got out, students started coming to watch us, which is very unusual for a subject like stage movement.

Do you know why they watched us? Because we had hilarious practices. One of them was the imitation of athletes, which even reached Sinisa Kovacevic, who was then the selector of the Festival of Monodrama and Pantomime in Zemun. He came to check us out and was delighted by our performance. He offered us to perform at the Festival, on the condition that we extend the act. We did that and performed at the Festival of Monodrama and Pantomime in Zemun in 1991, or rather we opened it, which was a great honor for us.

Among the spectators was a professor from FDU, Vesna Jezerkic, who was also an associate of the Federal Institute for International Cultural Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When we met, she openly offered me the opportunity to apply to Marcel Marceau, which I eagerly accepted.

In July of the same year, I had my graduation play, the comedy dell'arte "Fly", in September I defended my graduation thesis and immediately went to Paris. And so I became a pantomime artist.

Marko Stojanović Indexovo radio pozorište


How was your schooling in the "City of Light"?

As soon as I passed the entrance exam in Paris, sanctions were imposed in our country and then there was no turning back. But not everything went as planned. On the very first day, they told us to forget everything we learned at the Academy, which created resistance in me.

Mostly, when I wasn't alone in pantomime lessons with Marcel Marceau, who I was learning about in my theater history course, I was serving ice cream to make a living. And, instead of performing at "Atelier", I worked at Haagen-Dazs, whose ice creams can be found in our country today. (laughter)

Having gone there with a huge head, this brought me back down to earth a lot, as did performing pantomime on the streets of Paris. There I was not a "young hope" and there was no job waiting for me. What happened more was that I had nothing to eat. Unlike other students, I refused to eat spaghetti. To this day, it is still a symbol of poverty. That's why I ate rice. Rice is ok, spaghetti not so much! (laughs) Basically, those slaps in life also curbed my ego.

For a while I resided with our excellent painter, Danet Mladenovic, who today lives and works in New York. While I was his roommate, he was engaged in art using, in many opinions, an extremely bizarre technique - the technique of scratching on granite. Those works were made into tombstones in our country, but they were actually black and white pictures "in negative" of large formats and it looked absolutely fantastic. Mostly, his kitchen was full of different spices, so every day I would prepare rice in a new way.

In the end, I didn't finish pantomime school. That is, I only finished the first of three years. That's how much I and the other participants from Eastern Europe received scholarships. To continue my education, I needed 14,000 francs, which, of course, I didn't have.

While you were in France, did you perform?

When I mastered the language, I played in certain French and foreign plays in French and in English. I even performed with a troupe at the Avignon festival, which is reputed to be one of the three biggest festivals in the world. The show was in the evening, and we spent the whole day working hard to paste posters all over the city, handing out leaflets, playing and singing to attract the audience.

It was the performance there that taught me the importance of every spectator. With 15,000 performances per month, as many as those festivals have, you literally have to fight for every viewer. In our schools, no attention is paid to it. I always did my best at the given moment and according to my capabilities. I have never "shirked" work, whether it was an artistic or "commercial" performance.

Marko Stojanović Marsel Marso


Is Marko still a pantomimist today?

Today, I don't consider myself a pantomimist. That profession requires an Olympic approach, several hours of practice every day, which has not been part of my "repertoire" for a long time. However, I still know the movements very well. Over the years I have worked with actors, ballerinas, athletes, hearing impaired children, teaching them body expression, and I can "see" what they lack and how to lead them to the movement they need.

Let's say, with athletes, I recognize that there is often no motivation for movement, no impulse that comes from emotion. Everyone is taught technique, and no one talks to them about feelings, that is, how to bring themselves to a state of extra energy in order to perform the movement properly. Among other things, the school of Marcel Marceau taught me that. Marceau "opened my eyes".

How was your career when you returned to our country?

After returning to Belgrade, I very quickly began to apply the acquired knowledge. I became an associate at the Department of Acting at FDU in 1994. A year later, I received an invitation from Branislav Bata Miladinovic to join his newly founded Academy, which later grew into the Academy of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Contemporary Arts.

There I rose to the position of head of the department, teaching acting and stage movement. However, I believe that it would not have been possible without those years spent at Marcel Marceau's school. Their lectures seemed to perfectly connect everything that I studied for four years at the Academy.

As for acting, I'm not a fan of those phrases that are attached to actors, like "getting into" and "getting out of character" or "seeking the truth" on stage. Actors are constantly acting, both on stage and on the home floor. They just do it better than others and are exceptional manipulators. And that's okay. In this way, they draw the audience into an illusion.

As you can see, I love to demystify things! (laughter)

On top of acting and pantomime, how did you become interested in curling?

I have always been very ambitious. This was also reflected in my desire to perform at Wimbledon, even thoughI have never practiced tennis. Rale Zelenovic took me to the tennis courts in Kalemegdan a couple of times, where I hit the wall and played tennis with him for about 10 minutes, but that was all. (laughter)

I first heard about curling when I was studying in Paris. The Winter Olympic Games in Albertville in 1992 were in full swing and as a promotional sport they played curling on TV. I was so fascinated by it that I came up with an exercise based on the sport for Marcel Marceau's school.

When I returned to Belgrade, it occurred to me that curling is my ticket to the Olympic Games, when Wimbledon is already a dream. (laughs) I started asking about the establishment of the club, only to be referred to the MUP in Ljermontova. There they explained to me that it was too complicated and that I should avoid it.

Marko Stojanović karling


But you didn't stop there.

Not at all. In the early 2000s, I met Miodrag Kalet Kastratovic, our famous dance teacher, who became famous with the "Dirty Dance" school, at the time when that movie was popular, and the president of the Serbian Association of Dance Organizations. As he was involved in the establishment of clubs and associations, he offered to arrange it for me. And so, in 2003, the first curling organization in our country was launched. Actually, we created two so that we could form an alliance: the general and women's curling organization of Serbia and Montenegro.

As soon as we founded the association, we got in touch with the European and World Federation, and the Bulgarian Association. Ljubo Velinov, the Bulgarian Secretary General, greeted us with the words: "Where are you, Serbian brothers?! Come to my place in Sofia and we will finish everything! My family has roots in Nis!" (laughs) That's how it was.

However, a "catch 22" awaited us there. To become a member of the European and World Federation, you had to be a part of the National Olympic Committee. To do this, you must be a member of the World or European Federation.

You found yourself in a vicious circle.

It was a shame, but there was also luck in all that misfortune. When I called the Olympic Committee, I was immediately recognized by the general secretary, Predrag Manojlovic, who knew me from the Belgrade Marathon - for several years I was the official announcer at the finish line, and he was the president of the Belgrade Marathon Management Board. Well, he also helped me with all the bureaucracy.

In December 2004, there was the European Championship in Sofia, where we were invited to present ourselves. The above-mentioned Ljubo received us generously, and we presented our plan and program and candidacy before the assembly of the European Curling Federation.

A month later, the assembly of the Olympic Committee was waiting for us. In order to present ourselves in the best possible light, in agreement with Kaleta, we organized the promotion of this sport at the ice rink of the old DIF. Ljubo Velinov came to our aid, taking the athletes and equipment with him. Kale and his dancers came to train as well as various friends and relatives of ours, and the first friendly match against Bulgaria was played, while the first stone was pushed by our friend, wheelchair athlete Siniša Milenković.

I invited a lot of media and created a real fiesta. It turned out that we were accompanied by more media than the pre-election press conference of Filip Cepter, who was running for the president of the OKSCG, on the other side of town. And that's how curling started to be played in Serbia.

What was the outcome of the assembly?

When it was our turn to meet with the Olympic Committee, we were in for an unpleasant surprise. Our candidacy was rejected, as I was previously informed. However, I called for the floor and began to explain what we have done for this sport: that curling had started to be played on the territory of Serbia, that the first friendly match was played, that we are supported and recognized by the Bulgarian Curling Association, that we submitted our candidacy for admission to the European Curling Federation, and that we have all the necessary documentation, along with clippings from a handful of newspapers. Then there was a vote and... Everyone was in favor. And that's how we got into the Olympic Committee.

Two months later, the World Cup was held in Scotland, as well as the assembly of the World Federation. As I was prevented from going, Kale went instead, with all the necessary documentation. And they received us and published it on the official website!

A day or two later, we received an email from Marko Masanovic, a Canadian of Serbian origin, in which he and his friends offered us a cooperation. Since I was then supposed to be on tour with Index in America and Canada, he offered to pay for my transportation and lodging with them. So I go to Canada and play with them. That was my first time playing curling on a real court.

Marko Stojanović pozorište Puž


What was it like working with the Canadians?

Since they had their roots from here, and couldn’t make the Canadian national team, they decided to perform for us at the World and European Championships, and the Olympic Games. We reached an agreement that in the beginning, four players will be theirs, and the fifth, a reserve player, will be someone from our team to learn the sport, and then every year we would add one new player from Serbia.

However, when it came time to take out the passports, it turned out that a tremendous amount of money was needed for this, so the Canadians gave up. I tried to urge Aleksandar Sostar, who dealt with sports issues in the Ministry of Education and Sports at the time, how it was in the interest of curling and its development in our country, but they were not receptive.

However, that was not the end of your curling story.

No it was not. A friend who organized a tour with “Indexovci'' in Canada called me in 2006 and offered me a chance to appear as a guest on a children's show. At that time, I was working at Little Theater Puz, performing in the play "Cricket and Ant". Branko Kockica immediately gave us the go ahead. Igor Djordjevic and Milos Timotijevic alternately played the role of the Ant, but both were justifiably prevented from traveling. And I was just about to talk them into curling.

In agreement with Branko, I asked my assistant from the Academy of Fine Arts, Bojan Mijatovic, to play the role of the Ant, telling him that all the money earned would be redirected to curling and learning it. He was stunned on the spot! (laughs) When I explained to him, he agreed. And so we went.

It turned out that it was preparations for the European Championship.

Well and truly. When we came to Canada, I managed to find one of the best Canadian junior curling coaches who agreed to train us. Although we had all our acting performances in Toronto, it was not difficult for us to go to Ottawa to see him. Two more members joined us before the trip, because the curling team needed four players. The first was a wheelchair-bound basketball referee who played curling, and the second was Slavisa Radovanovic, who was the producer of our candid camera show on the Third Channel. His brother lived in Ottawa and was happy to join us.

The Olympic Committee lent us money for plane tickets for the two of them, and Slavisa's brother arranged for free accommodations with four of our families, while the coach also provided us with free use of gym halls for nine days of training. All of this eventually led to our application for the European Championship in Basel, Switzerland.

Since we didn't have much money, I begged Kale to find us at least some kind of accommodation there. He types "Basel, Serbs" on the Internet and the first result that comes up is some kind of pastry shop. When he got in touch, they promised to receive us as family.

Marko Stojanović Evropsko prvenstveno u karlingu


How did the preparations go?

Already on the second or third day, Slavisa fell on the ice and dislocated his shoulder. We panicked, trying to figure out what to do. I remember that I was the promoter of "Synergy", organized by "Microsoft", where I met an elderly gentleman whose son was interested in that sport. I called him and asked if his son wanted to be part of the team. He was beside himself with joy, so much so that he even offered to provide us with Diners cards so that we could pay for the plane tickets to Basel in installments. As there was no time for him to arrive at the preparations, we agreed that we would teach him the sport on the fly.

How did you obtain the equipment?

As for the equipment, we got it by having the Canadian coach give me the phone number of one of the four Canadian manufacturers. I turned that around and was immediately connected to the director, who set up an appointment for me in Toronto. As I had my stand-up show there, I visited and after a half hour meeting I managed to get free gear and jerseys for everyone. What's more, he offered to embroider the flag and names on the back of the jerseys and ship them directly to Switzerland by DHL.

Turns out he sent it by Canadian mail because it was way cheaper and the jerseys probably wouldn’t arrive until the end of the championship and we couldn’t show up there without the jerseys. And you know what I did? I sent my wife and Kalet to buy us some thick sweatshirts in the flea market and take them to the press in "Vrapac" in Knez Mihailova, and give them to Luka Teaanovic, who intended to report on us from the spot for TV Pink and Radio Pingvin.

In the meantime, I discovered that T-shirts with our emblem are sold at the airport. However, the store was opening at the time our plane took off. The acquired popularity came in handy again - I told the authorities at the airport what was going on and they allowed me to board last. I rushed to the store and bought red and navy t-shirts in the largest size.

That was the debut of our curling team. What was the outcome?

When we landed, we were greeted by our hosts, who were extremely hospitable. They drove us every day to the matches, they always took us to one of our other restaurants for the grub and provided us with accommodation in a hotel, the manager of which was our countryman. In fact, they paid for our stay for a few days, and the rest of our expenses were taken care of by that manager, declaring our rooms to be out of order. All we had to do was just not to spread it around.

The result? We won two games! Our first victory was against Estonia, unchallenged. After that, a handful of fans, who faithfully cheered for us, ran out onto the ice to take pictures with us in front of the results. It was really amazing! And so we started playing curling at the national team level. (laughter)

Marko Stojanović Nacionalni savez u karlingu Srbije


What’s the state of curling sport in Serbia today?

Over night, curling became a family sport among the Stojanovices. My son, Filip, won bronze in the newly established C group at the European Championships in 2013, while his wife Dara performed as part of the women's national team. They also competed together in mixed doubles at the 2017 World Championships.

Later, we prepared and trained in Denmark, where we made a friend whose parents were the owners of the hall. They provided us with free ice sessions, and when we weren't sleeping at her place in the basement, she trained us. We did all this in the hope that curling would take root in our country.

We had the privilege of organizing the Fourth Curling Congress in our country in 2015. After that, we had an agreement in principle with the municipality of Surcin on providing the land for use by the Association, But that, unfortunately, backfired. By the way, we don't get any financial help from the competent authorities, so we have to support everything ourselves, which is very difficult in the age of covid and reduced income. But we are fighting.

On the topic of covid, you organized the initiative Artists Against Corona during the pandemic, which went viral globally.

Yes, that initiative first started here, and then I spread it globally. The hashtag #umetniciprotivkorone was my response to the introduction of the state of emergency. I created a Facebook group of the same name, where people immediately started sharing their creative content. At the same time, I used my email address book, which I had carefully compiled over the years, and released a notice about that group to all the media in the country and the diaspora, as well as the ministry, the secretariat and the president of the republic.

The media announced it, and the Ministry of Culture and the Office for Information Technologies launched their campaign called "Digital Solidarity" a few days later. State institutions joined them, and we were joined by professional and amateur artists. For example, one fella  with his company held a one-hour concert for group members. We have created really wonderful content.

That initiative also occurred globally.

Yes, I immediately created an international version of this initiative called #artistsagainstcorona, only to have the idea stolen from me a day later by a certain German, who eventually commercialized it through a website of the same name. Then I made an appeal through the World Mime Organization for colleagues to translate this hashtag into their own language and create their own content. Thus, a lot of content was shared in various languages and in the universal language of pantomime.

I did my best and I pushed it to the point of exhaustion because I had nothing else to do. (laughs) At the same time, I also wrote a book, "Communicator = Gladiator", which is a kind of combination of my texts, feuilletons and scripts about communication, verbal and non-verbal, and various exercises that can help everyone.

Marko Stojanović predsednik Svetske organizacije pantomimičara


You are working on multiple fronts simultaneously.

Yes. The World Mime Organization, which I founded and which I chair, became a global partner of the International Theater Institute within UNESCO in 2017. It moved from Paris to Shanghai, where they held a summit of all partners, which I also attended, right before the covid pandemic, in December 2019.

During 2018 and 2019, I organized the World Pantomime Conference in Belgrade, which was attended by the "crème de la crème" of this profession, including Marcel Marceau's son and Marceau's  former wife, who owns one of the leading pantomime schools in Paris. and Europe. During my stay in Shanghai, the artistic director of the Shanghai Center for Dramatic Arts approached me and asked if such a conference could be held in Shanghai.

Without any problems, we agreed that it will be part of the International Comedy Festival in November 2020. Before that, I was supposed to travel to Shanghai to direct some plays and give pantomime lessons, but due to the pandemic, everything went to hell. Although the conference was held online and not live, I stayed in touch with him and my colleagues in Shanghai.

Still, you managed to achieve a collaboration with Chinese artists.

True. When I saw the great help that China sent us during the pandemic, I suggested to the artistic director of the Shanghai Center for Dramatic Arts that we also establish cultural cooperation between our two countries, which seemed like an excellent idea to him. But then I had to wonder how we could do it.

I remembered that a long time ago I recorded audio fairy tales for my son Filip so that he would not forget my voice since I was away a lot. At the same time, I also recorded some Serbian poetry, which I then published on YouTube and which had a handful of views. Later, I used it for the needs of the French Cultural Center, where I recited the same poetry in French, while in the background, instead of music, there was a recording in Serbian. That was really interesting. And suddenly it was crystal clear to me - why not do it in Serbian and Chinese, with one Serbian and one Chinese song that a Chinese actress and I would recite in our own language.

I made the proposal to the artistic director of the Shanghai Center for Dramatic Arts to find a song in Serbian and Chinese, and to record it at home. He accepted and we got to work. I found a Chinese author whose poems were translated into Serbian, and a Serbian author whose poems were translated into Chinese. The center gave its best actress and we recorded it.

In the end, I forwarded the recording to them, but also to our media. It was broadcast as part of the second “Dnevnik” on RTS, on most of our televisions, portals and social networks, as well as on their networks and media in China. And it was a complete hit. Having established a great cooperation, I was invited to visit their universities as a lecturer. Of course, all online. All this was born out of cooperation with the International Theater Institute, on whose recommendation I also went to the Emirates, where I taught pantomime and acting classes.

I recently organized the World Academy of Pantomime and Movement Theater in Belgrade, which was visited by a large delegation from the Emirates. I honestly think it was a great promotion of our capital. I took them on a tour of the Nikola Tesla Museum, the National Museum and the Ethnographic Museum. They attended concerts on Republic Square and in the Botanical Garden, which dispelled various prejudices about us that they had acquired from their own media. Each of us is the PR of our country, and culture is the best tool. (laughter)

Marko Stojanović Umetnici protiv korone


What are your plans moving forward?

The Emiratis are planning to organize a pantomime festival in the winter, when the temperature is warm. In addition, we plan to revive the International Theater Institute in Serbia. The General Director of the International Theater Institute Tobias Biancone attended the World Academy in Belgrade and on that occasion we met with representatives of our Ministry of Culture and the Commission for UNESCO within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We have received their support in our efforts.

Also, my son will soon graduate from FDU and continue his master's studies in the direction of film and TV camera, so we are thinking of shooting a feature film together next year. We are working a lot on the script, which is highly visual and aestheticized.

We also plan to continue organizing a workshop within our informal World Academy, which would serve for teaching in the areas of pantomime, non-verbal theater, but also recording and digitizing the so-called movements. motion capture for the film and gaming industry. In the "Pionokio" theater, they organized a 10-day summer "session" and festival, where the participants could learn, but also show off and express themselves.

At the same time, we wanted to see if there was a possibility for the World Academy to go "traveling". Especially considering that the program consists of four workshops, at least one of which must be related to the local culture of the host country. In our case it was Serbian folklore.

It is a way to get to know the local culture through movement, music, rhythm... Puerto Ricans, Brazilians, Emiratis, Russians, Americans, Egyptians, Israelis, Syrians have attended folklore in our country, finally dancing the famous Moravian.

Together with the leaders of the municipality of Vrnjačka Banja and their tourism organization, we are also planning the World Festival of street pantomime, which we had to cancel this year due to the rain.

But all this is all still somewhere between ideas and plans, so we have a long way to go. But there is no giving up. This is what art and sports teach us.