When Father Was Away on Business is set in the period of 1950-52, mostly in Sarajevo during a time of desperate confusion. This internationally acclaimed Yugoslav feature shows what it was like growing up during the reign of Tito who had made Yugoslavia something of an outlaw state among the Communist nations. Which makes an uneasy political relationship, continually putting loyalties to the test.
Everything is seen through the eyes of a six-year-old child, named Malik. Malik's father, Mesha criticizes a cartoon in the party newspaper, and sent to labor camp. The fact that Mesha's brother-in-law, a stern, bureaucratic Communist Party official, shares Mesha's interest in the same young women only seals Mesha's fate. As a result of his transgression he is sent work in a mine, while the rest of his family is left to manage on its own.
The movie was winner of the Golden Palm at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival. Critics held this Yugoslav film as warm, and appealing, full of European humanism without apology.
It's directed by the then young (31) Kusturica and was his only second feature. Along with other talented Yugoslav directors of his generation, Kusturica studied at the Czech film academy FAMU.