Friday, May 20, 2011

Winnetou of the East

The "Winnetou of the East", Gojko Mitic, is attending the international film festival Crossing Europe in Linz as a guest. In the section "Red Westerns" some of the twelve Indian films, which star the now turned 70-year-old actor, are shown. The APA was able to ask the Serbian-born actor of the Communist East European film industry a few questions.

APA: You are known as the "Winnetou of the East", is this a compliment?

Gojko Mitic: I don’t mind, because I'm already used to it. When the GDR still existed, they gave me a nickname: I was called "Indian chief" because I starred in the DEFA films as different Indians. Then when I appeared in Bad Segeberg for 15 years and 1,400 performances at the Karl May Festival, the writers like you, gave me that name.

APA: "Red Westerns" are something completely different than the American Western.

Mitic: Of course, I grew up with the US-Western. I can remember that we were all glad when John Wayne appeared. But I never wanted to be an Indian, because they were "evil". In retrospect, I realize that we have done them wrong. We were the ones who came to their country and decimated them. These Indians, who I played did not meet the American stereotype. It was researched more at the DEFA films, they were stories of real Indians retold. These films were for me, a bit of an attempt to correct the story.

APA: Are you yourself of any the Indian heritage?

Mitic: No, but I am very grateful to the Indian people. I appreciate their way of living very much - in harmony with nature. Do not take more than you really need. The Indians say, we think of the seventh generation after us. This is important. I have always admired their beliefs and attitudes.

APA: Have you ever even met Indians?

Mitic: Yes, I showed my films to them. This was a very interesting experience. First, they could not believe that Europeans made films about them. Then they said: "This is our story." I feel that my films have given them back a piece of restitution. I was a hero to them.

APA: Has the role of the Indian performer ever gotten on your nerves?

Mitic: I made many other television series and films. But when you have success in one genre, some of the fans will always see you as that person and that has always been the case. There is a drawback, but what the heck, it's not the worst.

(Interview by Tiziana Arico / APA)

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