Biljana Srbljanović

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Biljana Srbljanović

Biljana Srbljanović (Serbian pronunciation: [bǐʎana sr̩bʎǎːnoʋitɕ], Serbian Cyrillic: Биљана Србљановић, born 15 October 1970) is a Serbian playwright.

She has written nine plays for the theater and one TV screenplay for Otvorena vrata TV series that ran on Radio Television of Serbia during the mid-1990s. Her plays have been staged in some 50 countries. Srbljanović is also a part-time lecturer at the Faculty of the Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. On 1 December 1999 she became the first foreign writer to receive the Ernst Toller prize. She is the recipient of various theatre awards, including the Slobodan Selenić Award, the Osvajanje Slobode Award, the Belgrade City Award, The Statuette of Joakim Vujić and the Sterija Award.

Early life[edit]

Srbljanović was born on 15 October 1970 in Stockholm as daughter of a member of the Yugoslav embassy. In 2010, she made a speech at the Akademietheater in Vienna, where she described her father as an emigrant, but this information is more than questionable in view of a member and political representative of an embassy. The wrong indication of Belgrade as the place of birth was obviously made public by herself at the beginning of her career. This false information is to be read again and again in some online biographies on her person.[1][2][3]

Artistic career[edit]

Srbljanović obtained her dramaturgy degree in 1995 at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. The first play she wrote, Beogradska trilogija (The Belgrade Trilogy), was first performed in 1997 in Belgrade, Serbia at the Yugoslav Drama Theater. After its huge success, the play was produced in many other countries, including Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, England, and the Scandinavian countries.

In April 1998 her second play, Porodične priče (Family Stories), was written in Belgrade and staged at Atelje 212. It won the Best New Play Award at the theatre festival in Novi Sad, Serbia and was later staged in Germany, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, United States, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France and elsewhere.

In December 1999, Srbljanović completed The Fall, which premiered in July 2000 at the City Theater Festival in Budva, Montenegro. Due to lack of public interest, the play was quickly erased from the program of Belgrade's theaters.

The young artist can also be seen in the Serbian movie Land of Truth, Love and Freedom (Zemlja istine ljubavi i slobode) as an actress in a leading role.[4]

The premiere of Supermarket, her fourth play, took place in May 2001 at the Festival of Vienna, Austria. It is still staged in many European countries.

In late 2003, Srbljanović completed her fifth play, America, Part Two. This became Serbia's most popular play in 2003 and 2004.

Srbljanović's next play, Skakavci (Locusts), won the New Theatrical Realities Award, one of Europe's most prominent theatre awards. In the 2005-06 season, German theater magazine Theater Heute proclaimed Srbljanović the best foreign playwright of the season.[5]

Her latest play This Grave Is Too Small For Me has attracted international press attention as well as acclaim from various audiences in Europe.[6]

Political career[edit]

In 2007 Srbljanović joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), with an additional role as a member of the party's political council.[7] Srbljanović was LDP's candidate for mayor of Belgrade in the Serbian local elections, 2008. She has distanced herself from the party afterwards.

Views and opinions[edit]

Srbljanović has for decades been an outspoken figure in the Serbian public sphere.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, during her university days, Srbljanović was close friend with Isidora Bjelica and wrote for the right-wing Pogledi magazine.[8] Afterwards, Srbljanović's political views swung to the left and by mid 1990s she began fiercely opposing the policies of Slobodan Milošević as well as opposition elements on the right side of the political spectrum. In 1997, as one of the guests on Olja Bećković's Utisak nedelje talk programme on Studio B, Srbljanović squared off against Miloslav Samardžić (who used to be her editor-in-chief at Pogledi) over the issue of American magnate George Soros injecting funds into the pro-Western Serbian media outlets, primarily B92.[9]

Even after 5 October 2000 Overthrow in Serbia, she continued railing against what she viewed to be "the irresponsibility of the political elite in Serbia", "Serbian violent nationalism" and "the culture of violence and exclusion in Serbian daily life".[citation needed] From May 2006 until February 2009, she maintained her own blog on the site[10] where among other things she frequently criticized various individuals, mostly Serbian politicians and other public figures who displayed political opinions she opposes such as Nebojša Krstić, adviser to the Serbian president Boris Tadić.

In 2010 Srbljanović opened a Twitter account where she continued commenting on Serbian politics. During late summer 2011, she got into several heated exchanges with the Democratic Party (DS) spokeswoman Jelena Trivan.[11][12]

The artist is signatory of the declaration of the project languages and nationalisms (Jezici i nacionalzmi). The declaration is against political separation of four Serbo-Croatian standard variants that leads to a series of negative social, cultural and political phenomena in which linguistic expression is enforced as a criterion of ethno-national affiliation and as a means of political loyalty in successor states of Yugoslavia.[13]


In March 2001, Srbljanović was sued for libel by film director Emir Kusturica as a result of calling him "an immoral Milošević's profiteer" in her op-ed piece in the Vreme magazine.[14] She also claimed in the same piece that Kusturica's 1995 film Underground was mostly financed by the Serbian state-owned TV (RTS), which was financially and editorially controlled by Milošević's regime at the time, accusing the director of "directly collaborating with the regime via his friend Milorad Vučelić".[15] In December 2003, the Belgrade municipal court ruled in Kusturica's favour as her claims couldn't stand up to closer scrutiny after Kusturica's attorney Branislav Tapušković provided a complete documentation of Underground producers and financiers thus proving that funding mostly came from the European production companies while parts of the movie were only shot in Serbian studios.[16]

In July 2007 Srbljanović criticized basketball player Milan Gurović on her blog, referring to him as "that tattooed idiot", for having a tattoo of World War II Chetnik leader Draža Mihailović on his arm.[17]

Additionally, Srbljanović aroused controversy with her 18 February 2012 tweet referring to the news item that former Serbian interior minister Dragan Jočić is to get extra police security following the arrest of Luka Bojović. Srbljanović's tweet — "'Jočić getting extra security detail' why? he ain't gonna run" — mocked the fact Jočić is unable to walk since his 2008 car accident.[18]

Srbljanović set off a torrent of negative sentiment from the general public in Serbia after making an awkward joke during the catastrophic May 2014 floods on Twitter. The tweet in Serbian read "Excuse me for not being compassionate, but you have 10 more minutes to swim to the gallery for the promotion of the book Tomato". A flurry of tweets, Facebook posts and news updates were quick to condemn the post, and her Twitter account @leyakeller became unavailable not long after [19]


In 2006 Srbljanović married Gabriel Keller, former French ambassador in Serbia. They got divorced in 2014. [20] Srbljanović is related to Radovan Karadžić, wartime political leader of Bosnian Serbs, condemned to 40 years in prison by the international tribunal at The Hague.[21]

Troubles with law[edit]

Srbljanović got detained by police on 1 December 2011 while buying cocaine in Belgrade from 27-year-old street dealer Miloš "Šone" Stanojčić; she was subsequently cited for possession of illegal substances.[22] According to Serbian police, she bought drugs on two occasions, each time paying 60.[23][24] Srbljanović ended up avoiding prison by taking a plea deal from the prosecutor's office in late March 2012 — agreeing to donate RSD200,000 to charity as well as to testify against the drug dealer who sold her the drugs.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Interview in Yugoslav teen magazine Super Tin (June 1997) on the website Yugopapir, retrieved on 2018-08-18.
  2. ^ Article commemorating the assassination of Yugoslav ambassador in Sweden in Kurir, retrieved on 2018-08-18.
  3. ^ Text of the speech (emigrant; p. 14) on the website issuu, retrieved on 2018-08-18.
  4. ^ Full movie (with English subtitles) on YouTube, retrieved on 2018-08-22.
  5. ^ B92 - News - Society - Serbian playwright wins prestigious award Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Brownell, Ginanne (May 22, 2014). "Biljana Srbljanovic on Her New Play". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  7. ^ B92 - Vesti - Lečić napustio predsedništvo LDP-a - Internet, Radio i TV stanica; najnovije vesti iz Srbije
  8. ^ Stojićević, Slobodan (26 March 2008). "СТАРА ЉУБАВ ЗАБОРАВА НЕМА". Politika. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  9. ^ Samardžić, Miloslav (2008). "Nikola je bio najbolji!". Svedok. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  10. ^ Biljana's
  11. ^ Okršaj Srbljanović-Trivan na Tviteru Archived 2012-02-25 at the Wayback Machine.;Blic, 23 August 2011
  12. ^ Svađa Biljane Srbljanović i Jelene Trivan na Tviteru;Blic, 20 September 2011
  13. ^ Jezici i nacionalzmi, official website, retrieved on 2018-08-16.
  14. ^ Kusturica encore montré du doigt;, 27 September 2001
  15. ^ Umesto pomirenja - tužba;Glas javnosti, 14 September 2001
  16. ^ Srbljanović kriva za klevetu;Večernje novosti, 28 December 2003
  17. ^ Biljana Srbljanovic blog, 21 July 2007
  18. ^ Biljana Srbljanović se sprda s invalidima! Archived 29 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine.;Kurir, 25 February 2012
  19. ^ Kurir Daily, 19 May 2014 Archived 28 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ Razvela se Biljana Srbljanovic i ima novog decka, PressOnline, 17.7.2014[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Krv prenosi samo viruse; Slobodna Dalmacija, 8 March 2006 [1]; Glas javnosti, 10 March 2006
  22. ^ "Biljana Srbljanović se izvukla za kokain!". Frankfurtske vesti. 23 March 2012.
  23. ^ ""Od Srbljanovićkinog kokaina sam mogao da napravim špansku seriju"". Frankfurtske vesti. 3 November 2012.
  24. ^ "French envoy's wife accused of possession of cocaine". News.Az. 13 March 2012. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  25. ^ Dileru Biljane Srbljanović 3,5 godine zatvora, Večernje novosti (in Serbian)