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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