Despite its modest population of just over 3 million and limited financial resources, a remarkable amount of films has come out of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the past couple of decades. Gaining its independence from disintegrating Yugoslavia through a horrific war that lasted from 1992 until 1995, this country has had more than its fair share of hardship. Along with the obvious tragedy of loss of human lives and the destruction of infrastructure, the country’s film industry was also devastated beyond recognition. Being once part of a country with an exceptionally rich film tradition whose films always did well abroad, Bosnia produced a number of original and internationally successful actors and directors with Emir Kusturica being probably its most famous exponent, directing some of the essential works of late Yugoslav cinema.
Almost two decades after the war things are slowly getting back to normal in Bosnia. Accompanied by a big shift in cultural dynamics and (re)defining of newly formed cultural spaces in regional and European context, a new generation of filmmakers is thematically and narratively trying to position themselves in regard to current social constellations. Reasons of geopolitical, economic and ethnic transition aside, Sigmund Freud once suggested that war might be a periodic result of collective projected aggression, the expensive and dark price paid to keep society safe from the savage impulses of its members (particularly from the savagery of intergenerational male rivalry). In the same way, artistic expression is one of the most important elements for individuals and societies in coming to terms with the past. It should not come as a big surprise that much of the contemporary Bosnian film production is bearing upon the war in one way or the other. Over 50 feature films dealing with the disintegration of Yugoslavia were made in its successor states since 1995. The term Vergangenheitsbewältigung was coined in post-1945 German literature and culture ; an attempt to digest the burden of the past while at the same time channeling those sentiments into something positive such as art. No doubt, this is one one the main reasons behind the surplus of cinematographic output in Bosnia. The other notable reason being the existence of the annual Sarajevo Film Festival, which from its humble beginnings during the siege in 1995 has grown to be the biggest film festival in Eastern Europe and a place of fruitful gathering for filmmakers, financiers and audience alike.
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Anticipated 2017 Bosnian movies to watch
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Epizoda u zivotu beraca zeljeza (Saturday November 9, 2013)Director Danis Tanovic Cast Nazif Mujic
Rather a no-budget than a low-budget film (Tanovic shot it for just under $40000 with the crew working largely on voluntary basis), this is a story of a Roma family living in a remote village in Northern Bosnia. Father Nazif collects and sells scrap metal for a living while mother Senada takes care of their two young girls. Pregnant with their third child, Senada finds out that there is something wrong with the baby and that an urgent and expensive surgery is required. The family is barely able to make ends meet and lacking even basic medical insurance or money to pay for the treatment. Fighting ignorance and racism, amid a life-threatening situation, distressed Nazif is struggling with the inability to provide for his family. The two main characters in the movie play themselves; their true story is essentially reenacted on the big screen by the people who are no actors and who have actually experienced these events on their own skin. Powerful images of intense poverty evoke Italian neorealism of Rossellini and De Sica, but this film is more raw than its predecessors. When art imitates life in such a realistic, documentary-style manner, the result may seem somewhat experimental, yet highly confronting. Stripped of all slickness and pretension, the director’s social engagement is evident in this harrowing portrait of a personal and national tragedy turned personal victory – both Tanovic and Mujic were awarded the Silver Bear at the 2013 Berlinale for their efforts....Read more
For those who can tell no tales (Monday June 16, 2014)Director Jasmila Zbanic Cast Kym Vercoe
A visit to a small town at the border of Serbia and Bosnia introduces an Australian tourist to the silent, pestilent heritage of...Read more
Na Putu (Tuesday January 11, 2011)Director Jasmila Zbanic Cast Zrinka Cvitesic
A boy named Amar has a significant tilt in his faith and beliefs when he finds a job, working with a Muslim community, thereby...Read more
Grbavica (Wednesday February 14, 2007)Director Jasmila Zbanic Cast Mirjana Karanovic
Luna Zimic Mijovic
Grbavica tells the story of a single mother Esma (Mirjana Karanovi?) and her 12-year-old daughter Sara who live in the epitomous neighbourhood of Sarajevo. The story orbits around Sara’s upcoming school trip that Esma (who is working two jobs to make ends meet) cannot afford. However, children of men who were killed in the army can go on the trip for free if an official verification document is provided. Questions are raised about Sara’s father, who is supposed to have been killed during the war. Esma is avoiding the touchy subject and tries to raise the money for Sara’s trip herself. Sara gradually realizes that her mother has been hiding the truth from her, a truth that could potentially tear them apart. Delivered in the style of poetic realism, Grbavica is in its essence a tale of unconditional love of a mother for her daughter. Albeit a love that is tainted with despair, grief and trauma. The need to know the truth appears to be at odds with the struggle to function normally in the day-to-day life. Although the narrative comes across as schematic at times, what remains are the stunning performances that carry the film and its burdensome theme with admirable ease. All credit to the director Jasmila Žbani? who carefully avoids falling into the trap of staged melodrama and pathos by creating a very realistic context in which the film’s main theme is explored. Whatever the perspective of the viewer may be, this powerful drama will not leave anyone indifferent....Read more
Ponts de Sarajevo (Wednesday July 16, 2014)Director Leonardo di Costanzo, Jean-Luc Godard Cast Bogdan Ninkovic
A great omnibus film about the city of Sarajevo directed by thirteen acclaimed directors. ...Read more
Krivina (Sunday September 9, 2012)Director Igor Drljaca Cast Jasmin Geljo
In the Soviet wars of 1990s a friend separates from the other; after the war is over, he decides to embark upon a journey in a...Read more