British Film Censor Wanted Cut In Emir Kusturica’s Latest Film

Emir Kusturica was outraged recently by a demand from the British Board of Film Censors that he cut a very short scene from his film set during the Bosnian war, “Life Is a Miracle.”

The scene, which apparently lasts for a couple seconds, shows a cat pouncing on a pigeon. Apparently under a 1937 law, the Cinematograph Films Act, it is against the law in Great Britain to show any scene that depicting animal cruelty that was produced or staged simply for the making of said film.

Kusturica maintains that the pigeon was already dead (though its wings apparently flap in the scence), but also took the time to blast the film board,

I just don’t get it. The pigeon was already dead, we found it in the road. And no other censor has objected. What is the problem with you English? You killed millions of Indians and Africans, and yet you go nuts about the circumstances of the death of a single Serbia pigeon. I am touched you hold the lives of Serbian birds so dear, but you are crazy. I will never understand how your minds work.

Ultimately, the controversy was resolved with a wink-and-a-nod. Kusturica suddenly remembered that yes, the birds wings were flapping but only because he rigged it with bits of strings to make the wings move and appear as if it were alive. He produced a letter saying that no pigeons were harmed in the making of “Life Is a Miracle” and the BBFC withdrew its objection.


Filmmaker says will not cut pigeon killing scene. The Guardian, March 4, 2005.

Film director flummoxed by dead pigeon ban. Index for Free Expression, March 4, 2005.

“It Is An Ex-Pigeon”. Channel 4, March 2005.

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