Danilo Stojković

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Bata Stojković
Danilo Bata Stojković screen shot Balkanski spijun.jpg
Bata Stojković in Balkanski špijun (1984)
Born Danilo Stojković
(1934-08-11)August 11, 1934
Belgrade, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Died March 16, 2002(2002-03-16) (aged 67)
Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia
Years active 1964 – 2002

Danilo Stojković (Serbian Cyrillic: Данило Стојковић) (August 11, 1934 - March 16, 2002), commonly nicknamed Bata (Бата), was a Serbian theatre, television and film actor. Stojković's numerous comedic portrayals of the "small man fighting the system" made him popular with Serbian and ex-Yugoslav audiences, most of them coming in collaborations with either director Slobodan Šijan or scriptwriter Dušan Kovačević - or both.

Early career[edit]

Belgrade born and bred Stojković, a well-known theatre actor by the mid-1960s, started his film career with the 1964 feature Izdajnik (lit. "The Traitor"). A string of TV and minor film roles ensued, with the most important ones coming in guise of being a father figure to the main protagonist - Čuvar plaže u zimskom periodu (Beach Guard in Winter, 1976), Pas koji je voleo vozove (The Dog Who Loved Trains, 1977) being the most recognizable ones - as well as the part in critically well-received Majstor i Margarita (Il Maestro e Margherita, 1972). He also fulfilled the fatherly role in an immensely popular TV show Grlom u jagode. The show originally aired in 1975 and kept finding its audience through numerous reruns in the 1980s and the 1990s. Most notably, he almost stole the show as the minor antagonist in Goran Marković's urban classic Nacionalna klasa do 750 cm³ (National Class Category Up to 750 ccm, 1979).

The breakthrough[edit]

Arguably, Stojković delivered some of his finest work while working with the director Slobodan Šijan, who was in turn most successful when working with Dušan Kovačević scripts. Kovačević, a talented playwright with a special gift for biting satire, had a knack for writing characters which Stojković could perfectly translate to screen. The combination of those three creative talents yielded some of Serbia's most memorable cinematic efforts to date.

Šijan, who previously worked with Stojković on a several TV productions, made his big screen debut with Ko to tamo peva (Who's Singing Over There?, 1980), a farcical comedy set at the beginning of World War II in then Yugoslavia. In a strong cast ensemble, Stojković distinguished himself with role of a Germanophile bus passenger on the way to Beograd in the eve of 6 April 1941 - the day that Belgrade was bombed by the Axis Powers marking Yugoslavia's entry into the war. Ko to tamo peva was released to great critical and commercial success, and has won two awards at the Montreal World Film Festival in Canada. To this date, it is considered one of the finest Yugoslavian films ever.

The success of Ko to tamo peva opened new doors for Stojković, who then established his film star status with a string of critically acclaimed roles. He appeared in Goran Paskaljević's dark comedy about rehab from alcoholism, Poseban tretman (Special Treatment, 1980), and then reunited with Šijan for another high-water mark of Serbian film, the black comedy Maratonci trče počasni krug (Marathon Family). The film, a humorous piece about a family whose undertaking business is being threatened by the local mobster was another smash success for Šijan and Stojković, and it retains its cult status to this day. Stojković again delivered a strong performance in a star-studded production, flawlessly portraying the head of the family in waiting: Laki Topalović.

Marxists, spies and revolutionaries[edit]

After a couple minor roles, from which his turn as the school principal in comedy Idemo dalje (lit. Moving On, 1982) deserved some mention, Stojković delivered a trio of performances which would ultimately cement his place in the Serbian acting hall of fame. Oddly enough, all three of those roles would involve him portraying a character closely related to the communist ideals - or better said, satirizing a stereotype of "party men" or "marxist revolutionaries".

First was his portrait of a homeless wannabe revolutionary Babi Pupuška, in Šijan's Kako sam sistematski uništen od idiota (How I Got Systematically Destroyed by an Idiot, (1983), a story about a man who embarks on a soul-searching journey after hearing the, for him at least, shattering news of Che Guevara's demise. Building momentum from this film onward, Stojković fused his father figure persona he honed in the 1970s with the Marxist nut of Babi Pupuška, and delivered another bravura performance in Goran Paskaljević's elegiac Varljivo leto '68 (The Elusive Summer of '68, 1984). Stojković's character of a hardline Marxist father, who cannot bear to witness the events of the 1968 unfold before his very own eyes, struck a chord with audiences.

Again uniting his talents with those of Dušan Kovačević, Stojković delivered his ultimate film performance - that of the staunch Stalinist and a full-time paranoid in Balkanski špijun (Balkan Spy, 1984), which was jointly directed by Božidar Nikolić and Kovačević himself. With Kovačević at his sharpest, Stojković made the role of ex-political prisoner Ilija Čvorović completely his own.

Late years[edit]

His role in Balkanski špijun was one of the last major theatrical roles for Stojković. After his major successes of the early 1980s, Stojković concentrated mainly on television and theatre, with an odd supporting role here and there. He was effective in both Vreme čuda (lit. Time of the Miracles, 1989) and Sabirni centar (The Collective Center), and had a memorable cameo in Balkan Express 2 (1989). His most famous theatrical role was that of Luka Laban, in another Kovačević play, Profesionalac (lit. "The Professional"). He played the role until a few days before his death. In an interview in 2007 his wife told that she drove him from the hospital to his last plays and returned him to the hospital bed after the play.

In the 1990s, Stojković cameoed in an ambitious, yet somewhat disappointing Crni bombarder (The Black Bomber, 1992), and had minor roles in movies such as Emir Kusturica's Underground (1995) and Darko Bajić's Balkanska pravila (The Rules of Balkan, 1997).

Ironically enough, one of his final theatrical roles was one of an orthodox priest - a character who Babi Pupuška and Ilija Čvorović would probably despise - in Lazar Ristovski's 1999 effort Belo odelo ("The White Suit"). After that, he appeared in an omnibus feature called Proputovanje (Traveling, 1999) and starred in a TV adaptation of the August Strindberg's play The Father for Serbian TV (Otac, 2001). He died in Belgrade on March 16, 2002, after a lengthy bout with cancer.

Awards and legacy[edit]

Throughout his lifetime, Stojković was the recipient of the Serbian Lifetime Achievement Award for both theatrical (Dobričin prsten, 1990) and cinematic (Pavle Vujisić, 1998) efforts. He remains as popular in death as he was in life, as his characters have entertained numerous generations of Serbo-Croatian speakers. The modern Serbian slang is often permeated with the lines from Stojković's most famous roles, and while one could argue that Kovačević's scripts were more important to this than Stojković, it is tremendously hard to imagine any of the above cited films without "Bata"'s colourful performances.

Filmography[edit]

External links[edit]