ABOUT 12TH ANNUAL BOSNIAN-HERZEGOVINIAN FILM FESTIVAL - 2015
The festival was held from Thursday, May 21 through Saturday, May 23, 2015. and saw the biggest attendance since the founding. The year 2015 also marked the last year the BHFF was held at Tribeca Cinemas. The venue shut down in the summer of 2015. The BHFF community has fond memories of being at Tribeca Cinemas, which we called home for nearly a decade.
Golden Apple awards went to:
BHFF Jury Award for Best Feature Film: The Bridges of Sarajevo, an omnibus showcasing the talents of 13 European directors, including Leonardo di Constanzo, Jean-Luc Godard, Kamen Kalev, Isild Le Besco, Sergei Loynitsa, Vicenyo Marra, Ursula Meier, Vladimir Perišić, Cristi Puiu, Marc Recha, Angela Schanelec, Aida Begić, and Teresa Villaverde.
BHFF Jury Award for Best Documentary Film: Pretty Village, directed by Dave Evans and produced by Kemal Pervanić.
BHFF Jury Award for Best Short Film: The Chicken by Una Gunjak.
BHFF Audience Award for Best Picture: Racket, a feature film directed by Admir Buljugić.
All winning films were announced at the festival’s Closing Party on Saturday, May 23, held in The Varick Room at Tribeca Cinemas.
Jury Award winners were selected by the official BHFF 2015 Jury, an expert panel comprising acclaimed filmmaker and media executive Pamela Hogan, award-winning journalist Almin Karamehmedović, and scholar of cultural and cinema studies Dijana Jelača. Hogan and Jelača attended the BHFF and announced the Golden Apple Award winners in each category during the Closing Party. When asked to comment about their selection for the BHFF Jury Award for Best Feature Film, Jelača and Hogan stated: “While not a traditional feature, we salute this fascinating experiment comprising 13 short films and 13 distinct artistic visions of Sarajevo from 1914-2014. It brings together an impressive list of international filmmakers, who tackle a variety of important themes from Sarajevo's, as well as the region's, past and present.”
Una Gunjak, London-based director of The Chicken, was unable to accept her Jury Award for Best Short Film in person but was delighted to receive the news from NYC: “It warms my heart and I am sending [big thanks] across the pond to you. It is particularly tense for me to show the film to an audience that is not just familiar with the Balkan region - but also comes from Bosnia - to an audience that has the right to judge and question your choices. It's a big test of the heart for me - for the film. I want to say a huge thank you to the jury, to everyone who made it to the screening, to the dedicated and supportive team of BHFF and say how sorry I am for not being able to celebrate with you tonight.”
Kemal Pervanić, producer and protagonist of Pretty Village, also sent a statement from London. He emphasized the importance of his documentary film: “Pretty Village had to be done for so many different reasons. It had to be not only a survivor testimony. It also had to be a piece of art that creates a depository of memory upon which we try to build a civilized society. It's been a privilege to have Pretty Village selected for this year's Festival. To win an award is a massive honor, it's a humbling experience for all of us at Pretty Village.” Pervanić added: “I'd like to congratulate all the other filmmakers whose works were included in the festival. Thank you BHFF organizers, thank you, members, of the jury, thank you, members, of the audience. By watching the film you have lent us your support.”
Admir Buljugić won the BHFF Audience Award for Best Picture for his directorial efforts on the feature film Racket. Buljugić expressed his gratitude from Sarajevo: “I am thrilled that the film Racket won the Audience Award. We make films for the audience so we are very happy that it was received so well.”
We were also joined by a great number of special guests and we thank them for supporting the BHFF:
Muamer Čelik, director of Toy Car
Aleksandar Hemon, co-writer of Love Island
Rialda Zukić, director of Bad Blood
Irena Škorić, director of Dear Lastan!
Darko Herič, director of photography for Dear Lastan!
Denis Butkus, actor in A Quintet
Tanya L. Domi, Columbia University’s Harriman Institute; Emerging Democracies Institute
Jadranka Negodić, Bosnian-Herzegovinian Ambassador to the U.S.
Adnan Hadrović, Minister-Counselor & Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Bosnia-Herzegovina
Seeking Truth in the Balkans filmmakers and Q&A panelists: June Ellen Vutrano and Erin Lovall - directors and producers of Seeking Truth in the Balkans
Richard Dicker, Director of The International Justice Program for Human Rights Watch
Jennifer Trahan, Associate Clinical Professor of Global Affairs at NYU Belinda Cooper, Senior Fellow World Policy Institute
The BHFF team would like to express our deepest gratitude to the local businesses that donated food for Opening and Closing nights of the Festival: Šeher Restaurant, Djerdan Burek Shop and Kafana.
We would also like to thank the incredible media team covering the festival this year:
Portuguese journalist Ricardo Alexandre Sousa, who has decades of experience covering Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Balkans. He was formerly Deputy News Director at RTP, Portuguese Public Radio and TV.
Oleh Dubno, New York City-based videographer and BHFF volunteer.
Adnan Šačiragić, Toronto-based photographer and BHFF supporter.
Mario Marquez, New York City-based photographer.
Mirza Medunjanin, New York City-based photographer and BHFF volunteer.
The festival would also like to thank: participating filmmakers, distributors, and production companies the Bosnian-Herzegovinian + Embassy in Washington, D.C. Tribeca Cinemas Dr. Džemaludin Harba for awards sponsorship Trix Restaurant in Brooklyn, NY
Big thank you to our Board of Patrons for their support:
Amy Kates and Muhamed Šarić
Richard Wraxall Moore and Barbara Forster Moore
Amra Spahić-Musakadić and Vedad Musakadić
Milad and Selma Hadžiabdić
Big thank you to our individual donors:
Big thank you to the BHFF Team for their countless hours and tireless efforts:
Big thank you to the media and institutions which have covered us and written about us, including bljesak.info, tacno.net, poskok.info, bhfilm.ba, okano.ba, dnevnik.ba, pogled.ba, bhrt.ba, 24sata.info, vijesti.ba, vazdan.com, enovosti.ba, ba.n1info.com, batv.tv, fokuspress.com, Glas Amerike (Voice of America) na jezicima naroda BiH, unseenfilms.blogspot.com, AltCine, Dnevni Avaz, Doznajemo.com, FilmFestivalLife.com, FestivalFocus.org, Film Festival Lounge, FilmFestivalSecrets.com, Klix.ba, NYCineFiles.net, NYLovesFilm.com, Oslobodjenje, Radio Sarajevo, Source.ba, Televizija Sarajevo, UsedYorkCity.com, Vimooz.com, and many others.
BHFF 2015 PROGRAM
Una Gunjak | 2014 | 15 min.
As Selma gets ready to celebrate her sixth birthday, she receives an unusual gift: a live chicken. When she realizes that her mother is planning to sacrifice the chicken to feed the the family that night, Selma decides to save it and sets it free. As she watches her mother chase after the chicken outside of her bedroom window, she is left wondering at what cost the chicken’s freedom comes. It is Sarajevo in 1993 is, a ruthless place for young Selma and her family, caught in the midst of a violent war.
Irena Škorić | 2014 | 85 min.
Dear Lastan! deals with universal issues of love, life, childhood and growing up. The film is also a glimpse into how kids were growing up in the former Yugoslavia, about the fears they had, and what they thought about. For decades, schoolchildren in the former Yugoslavia read one of the most popular children’s magazines called ‘Modra Lasta’ (‘Blue Swallow’). In 1969, the magazine created a character named Lastan. Kids would write to Lastan about the problems they were dealing with, and he would publish his answers to them in the magazine. This film, for the first time after almost five decades, reveals his true identity.
Muamer Čelik | 2014 | 17 min.
Toy Car is a story of the immigrant experience, specifically that of a family from Bosnia-Herzegovina who move to Chicago. The film shows struggles that immigrants go through and is a refreshing and rare-seen look at Bosnian immigrant families. The film is a mixture of humor and sadness, and full of humanity. Toy Car shows what happens when husband and wife drift apart and their two young kids pay the ultimate price by being stuck in the middle.
Jasmila Žbanić | 2014 | 90 min.
Grebo and his very pregnant wife Liliane are taking a well-deserved vacation at a popular Adriatic seaside resort. What could possibly go wrong? At open-mic night, Grebo seduces the resort crowd and reminds his loving French wife of the Sarajevo rocker she fell in love with. But the evening’s big surprise is the young couple’s meeting with mysterious Flora. The charismatic young woman will soon put their young marriage to the test. Past secrets cannot stay hidden for long on Love Island.
Rialda Zukić | 2015 | 25 min.
Filmmaker Rialda Zukić returns to her birthplace of Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, with a camera to document what her life could have been had she stayed there after the war. While in Srebrenica, she meets 17-year-old Nikolina (Nina) and 22-year-old Ismeta. She discovers that younger generations of Serbs and Bosniaks still hang out within the confines of their own ethnic groups.
Dave Evans | 2014 | 70 min.
Twenty years after the end of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, concentration camp survivor Kemal Pervanić returns to his northwestern Bosnian village to find a community still at war with itself. The events of that war continue to resonate as Pervanić’s family and neighbours search for their loved ones while their former neighbours remain silent. This important new film is much more than a story about one Bosnian village near Prijedor. It is a universal story of what happens to communities and friendships torn apart by conflict and how difficult it is to rebuild people’s lives.
ON THE VERGE
Fanny Hagmeier | 2014 | 7 min. | Documentary
On the Verge is an essayistic portrait of Sarajevo. It shows personal reflections of the profound effect the city has on the filmmaker, while the city is undergoing several changes in early 2014. From the first nationwide demonstrations in decades to the biggest floods in a century - images are intertwined with the daily life of Sarajevans trying to find grip between the city’s extremes.
BRIDGES OF SARAJEVO
(Ponts de Sarajevo)
multiple directors | 2014 | 114 min.
13 European directors explore the theme of Sarajevo; what this city has represented in European history over the past hundred years, and what Sarajevo stands for today in Europe. These eminent filmmakers of different generations and origins offer exceptional singular styles and visions. Each director’s intention has its own rhythmic pulse, yet a subjacent baseline unites their voices in a single harmonic motion. Sarajevo is a terribly real city, an idea, a hope and a tragedy. Only genuine filmmakers, each with their own impulse and sensitivity, could be trusted to faithfully portray all these dimensions on the big screen.
THE SARAJEVO ASSASSINATION
Nedim Lončarević | 2014 | 52 min.
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo by young Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip. And thus began the Great War. Paul Gradvohl, a historian specializing in Eastern European studies, travels to Sarajevo to investigate the true motives behind the assassination. He explores questions raised a century ago by a police investigation that was cut short by the start of World War I. Gradvohl wants to know: Was the attack against Franz Ferdinand a spontaneous act of young nationalists? Or was there someone behind it? And who would have wanted the war, anyway?
SEEKING TRUTH IN THE BALKANS
June Vutrano and Erin Lovall | 2014 | 73 min.
Seeking Truth in the Balkans comes on the 20th anniversary of the Dayton Accords, which ended the bloody war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the greater region, as well as on the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was set up to prosecute genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Since its creation in 1993, all 161 individuals who were indicted have been accounted for. Of the indictees, 74 have been sentenced to a total of 1,081 years, plus five life sentences. The film explores and analyzes where things stand today in the Balkans, and if the prosecution of war criminals in the Hague has contributed as much as once hoped to peace and reconciliation within the region.
Benjamin Dizdarević | 2014 | 18 min.
Mercy is a story about what happens when we are denied freedom to do what we truly love. Eventually, our spirit breaks down and we take drastic measures to get free. It’s also a story about growing up. Nina, a young adolescent woman is living under pressured conditions with her father after the recent death of her mother. Nina is very passionate about art and drawing. Her father, suffering from a strong fear of loneliness - starts isolating his daughter and forbidding her to do everything she likes, including art. Nina begins to suffocate under the pressure and decides to do something radical in order to take the independence into her own hands.
multiple directors | 2014 | 74 min.
People from different walks of life meet, laugh, fight, love and in a magical way they are all connected via the hub of Berlin. Each film by itself is like an instrument with a specific tonality that filmmakers wanted to use to express their feelings and each one is adding to the harmony and emotion of the entire omnibus film by completing the quintet forming a unit. Using this metaphor, each story has its own rhythm and tune but they all have internally the same musical quality.
Mirna Dizdarević | 2014 | 12 min.
Redemption is defined as the action of saving or being saved from sin, error or evil. As such, it requires the efforts of those who committed sin, error or evil and those who were victims of it. Olga and Goran, the main characters of this short film by Mirna Dizdarević, are unknowingly linked by a tragic past. One afternoon changes their neighborly relationship forever as they uncover how their lives and destinies are intertwined. Each is forced to confront their fears and grapple with the promise of redemption.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Admir Buljugić | 2014 | 80 min.
Amil Pašić has been working abroad for three years as a freelance photographer. For the first time after a year he comes back to Sarajevo to visit his father Mufid and finds out that a local criminal Bakir is extorting a monthly racket from Mufid which he categorically refuses to pay. Amil suggests to his father to contact the police to no avail. After his father suffers a heart attack Amil decides to take matters into his own hands. The cityscape of Sarajevo is a fetching backdrop for this rare crime story from Bosnia, by the first-time helmer Admir Buljugić. Taking a page from Jason Statham movies, the story follows a lone hero fighting the local thugs in a desperate bid to protect his ailing father’s business.