Director: Ognjen Svilicic, Croatia/Germany/Bosnia and Herzegovina 2007, 82 min.
Empathetic Father-Son Story from the Balkans
The 14-years-old Armin and his father Ibro are travelling from their little town in Bosnia to Zagreb, capital of Croatia. Ibro is taking Armin on audition for a film about war in Bosnia, produced by a German film company. For Ibro it's important that this journey ends with success. After a journey with many exertions they arrive and are confrontated with a world which rules they don`t know and can`t handle.
Director: John Burgan, Germany 2005, 90 min.
Do wars really end when the fighting stops? From a bunker in Berlin, through former Yugoslavia, still-divided Cyprus, cities that change names, populations and countries without moving an inch: forced migration and ethnic cleansing has marked the 20th century like no other. In Europe alone, between 80 and 100 million were driven from their homes - or worse - in the last century. How to deal with all of this collective past? Historians quibble amongst themselves and politicians conduct a dialogue of the deaf. Behind Words encounters refugees and artists across Europe searching for the difficult way between memory and forgetting. The film is made by Network Migration in Europe and Hanfgarn & Ufer Film Production.
Director: Péter Gábor Németh, Hungary 2012, 60 min., Hungarian & Bosnian
In 1992, patients from a local psychiatric institute in Bosnia were rescued from the war and brought to Hungary, where they stayed in a makeshift secure psychiatric unit in the country’s biggest refugee camp. Since then they’ve been waiting impatiently to return home. For seventeen years their case seems to be stuck in the labyrinth of politics and bureaucracy. Finally, long after the end of hostilities, the two countries arrange for their return. Some of the asylum residents did not live long enough to see that day. Others are so weak that they risk their lives just making the journey. What kind of future awaits them in their homeland? The makers of the film follow the tragic and heartbreaking story of the last victims of a war that lasted from 2003 to 2011.
Directors: Mandy Jacobson, Karmen Jelincic , Croatia 1996, 63 min., English
An extraordinarily powerful documentary, Calling the Ghosts is the first-person account of two women caught in a war where rape was as much an everyday weapon as bullets or bombs. Jadranka Cigelj and Nusreta Sivac, childhood friends and lawyers, enjoyed the lives of "ordinary modern women" in Bosnia-Herzegovina until one day former neighbors became tormentors. Taken to the notorious Serb concentration camp of Omarska, the two women, like other Muslim and Croat women interned there, were systematically tortured and humiliated by their Serb captors. Once released, the pair turned personal struggles for survival into a larger fight for justice-aiding other women similarly brutalized and successfully lobbying to have rape included in the international lexicon of war crimes by the UN Tribunal at the Hague.
Director: Marcel Schüpbach, Switzerland 2006, 100 min., in French and English with English subtitles
Filmmaker Marcel Schüpbach was given unprecedented access behind the scenes of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. In an atmosphere of high tension, where everything plays out like a poker game, prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and her team relentlessly pursue notorious perpetrators of crimes against humanity, such as Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, still at large. Both Serbia and Croatia —as well as the International Community—pledge total cooperation in helping locate the suspects, but this does not seem to produce any concrete results.
Director: Frans van Erkel, Netherlands 2006, 59 min.
In July 1992, a group of patients from a psychiatric clinic in Jakeš in Bosnia were driven from their country by war. Since 1996 they have been living in clean if not exactly homely rooms in part of a refugee centre in Debrecen, Hungary. The makers of Forgotten fools established contact with the patients, who want nothing more than to return home. They converse with them in front of doctors, who express surprise that a place cannot be found for the patients anywhere in their own country. Later in Bosnia they meet a psychiatrist from the former institute; old video recordings show the building, ravaged by war, and patients rambling about, unable to escape. A sentimental song on the soundtrack accompanies images of the filmmakers visiting relatives in heavy snow and presenting them face to face with the patients' wishes. However, the responses are all similar and reveal not a hint of responsibility: none of them want to know that the patients have been sent abroad. And because Bosnia lacks both doctors and medicines the families and the director of a new institute believe it would be the best for the "forgotten fools" to remain in Hungary.
Director: Jasmila Zbanic, Bosnia 2006, 95 min.
Single mother Esma lives with her 12-year-old daughter Sara in Sarajevo’s Grbavica neighborhood, where life is still being reconstructed after the 1990s Yugoslav wars.
Unable to make ends meet with the meager government aid she receives, Esma takes a job as a cocktail waitress in a nightclub. Working all night is difficult for Esma physically and it also forces her to reluctantly spend less time with her daughter. Still haunted by violent events in her past, Esma attends group therapy sessions at the local Women’s Center. In addition to relying on her best friend Sabina, Esma also finds a kindred spirit in Pelda, a compassionate male co-worker from the nightclub.
Feisty tomboy Sara begins to put soccer aside as she develops a close friendship with classmate Samir. The two sensitive young teenagers feel a strong bond because both lost their fathers in the war. But Samir is surprised to hear Sara doesn’t know the details of her father’s noble death. Sara’s father becomes an issue when she requires the certificate proving he died a shaheed, a holy war martyr, so that she can receive a discount for an upcoming school trip. Esma claims acquiring the certificate is difficult since his body has yet to be found. Meanwhile, Esma searches desperately to borrow money to pay for Sara’s trip.
Confused Sara becomes violently upset when some classmates tease her for not being on the list of martyrs’ children. Realizing her mother has paid full price for the school trip, Sara aggressively demands the truth. Esma breaks down and brutally explains how the girl was conceived through rape in a POW camp. As painful as their confrontation is, it is Esma’s first real step toward overcoming her deep trauma. Despite Sara’s hurt, there is still an opening for a renewed relationship between mother and daughter.
Director: Sergej Kreso, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2007, 56 min.
At the end of the 1980s La Banda were one of the best known bands on Sarajevo's alternative rock scene. The musicians were just about to complete their debut album when their plans were dramatically changed by war. This personal documentary by the journalist and director Sergej Kreso, La Banda's bass guitarist, records a reunion of members of the group after more than 15 years. The old friends return to Sarajevo from five different countries in order to complete two last songs and therefore finish the album they began before the war. However, Graffiti Street is not just a documentary about a meeting of musicians after a separation caused by war. Kreso, who has come back to Sarajevo from his new home in the Netherlands, attempts to find out how much the war affected the city and its burgeoning music scene. The spellbinding final concert of the reformed La Banda in a small Sarajevo club allows the happy years before the war to be remembered for one night at least.
Director: Dannis Tanovic, Bosnia 20001, 98 min.
After various skirmishes, two wounded soldiers, one Bosnian and one Serb, confront each other in a trench in the no man's land between their lines. They wait for dark, trading insults and even finding some common ground; sometimes one has the gun, sometimes the other, sometimes both. Things get complicated when another wounded Bosnian comes to, but can't move because a bouncing mine is beneath him. The two men cooperate to wave white flags, their lines call the UN (whose high command tries not to help), an English reporter shows up, a French sergeant shows courage, and the three men in no man's land may or may not find a way to all get along.
Director: Katarina Rejger and Eric van den Broek, Bosnia and Herzegovina/Slovenia/Macedonia/Croatia/Serbia and Montenegro (including Kosovo) 2004/2005, 75 min., in Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian, Serbian and Slovenian with English subtitles
Videoletters is a truly groundbreaking and emotionally uplifting series of twenty short documentary films. In each episode, two people of different nationalities send each other a video letter, explaining how this could have happened. In each case, they were friends, neighbors, or colleagues before the war drove them apart.
Direktor: Michael Winterbottom, United Kingdom 1997, 97 min.
Based on "Natasha's Story," the 1993 memoir of ITN correspondent Michael Nicholson. Director Michael Winterbottom has fashioned a remarkable film by taking the events in Nicholson's book and interweaving them with actual footage of the siege of Sarajevo. And he's couldn't have assembled a better cast; Stephen Dillaine and Woody Harrelson give the performances of their careers (thus far) as Henderson and Flynn, and they're ably supported by Kerry Fox, Marisa Tomei, Emira Nusevic, and a charismatic, pre-ER Goran Visnjic