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ABOUT BOSNIAN-HERZEGOVINIAN FILM FESTIVAL SPECIAL EDITION- 2021

The Best of BHFF: A Retrospective for our Times was a month long program which took place from April 20th to May 31st, 2021 in an online format in celebration of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian Film Industry by showcasing the best of what Bosnia's film production has offered in the last few years. The BHFF Special Edition included retrospective screenings of a select group of films that have participated and/or were awarded The BHFF Golden Apple at one of the past BHFFs.

 

A total of 16 films were shown, including narrative features, short features, short narratives, documentaries. Alongside the retrospective screenings, the program featured conversations with emerging diasporic filmmakers who hail from Bosnia and currently live and make films elsewhere.  Following the end of the BHFF Special Edition, BHFF’s programming co-directors Dijana Jelača  and Amir Husak were in conversation with Aleksandra Odić (Great Wall of China), Una Gunjak (The Chicken), Sabina Vajrača (Variables), Ado Hasanović (Nomophobia), Bojan Bodružić (The Museum of Forgotten Triumphs) and Goran Kapetanović (My Aunt in Sarajevo; Refugee 532). Topics such as what it means to be a Bosnian diasporic filmmaker and how the filmmakers’ own backgrounds inform their creative filmmaking choices were discussed amongst others.

BHFF 2021 PROGRAM

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QUO VADIS, AIDA- SPECIAL SCREENING (for US only)

2020 | Jasmila Žbanić | 101 min

Narrative Feature

Bosnia, July 1995. Aida is a translator for the UN in the small town of Srebrenica. When the Serbian army takes over the town, her family is among the thousands of citizens looking for shelter in the UN camp. As an insider to the negotiations Aida has access to crucial information that she needs to interpret. What is at the horizon for her family and people - rescue or death? Which move should she take?

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A GOOD WIFE

Dobra žena

2016 | Mirjana Karanović | 94 min
Narrative Feature

When 50-year-old Milena finds out about the terrible past of her seemingly ideal husband, while simultaneously learning of her own cancer diagnosis, she begins an awakening from the suburban paradise she has been living in.

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MY AUNT IN SARAJEVO

Moja tetka u Sarajevu

2016 | Goran Kapetanović | 58 min

Narrative Feature

Zlatan, 50, has not been in Bosnia since he left the country as a war refugee, more than twenty-five years ago. His only contact with Bosnia consists in sending money to a woman who takes care of his old aunt. Zlatan’s daughter Anja, 18, who lives with her mother, wants to know more about her Bosnian roots, but every single time she meets Zlatan, he is not eager to tell her anything about Sarajevo or his life there.

Anja decides to travel to Sarajevo to explore her roots. Zlatan tries to stop her, but surprisingly he finds himself in a taxi together with Anja, going towards the city of Sarajevo from the airport towards an emotional journey in search of their respective identity and their common history.

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MEN DON'T CRY

Muškarci ne plaču

2017 | Alen Drljević | 98 min

Narrative Feature

Twenty years after the conclusion of the Bosnian War, a group of men meet to discuss their experiences and process the events that shaped their lives decades ago. Comprised of a diverse group ethnic backgrounds, including Bosnian, Croat, and Serbian descent, the men alternate between confronting and avoiding painful memories through a mix of therapy sessions and drunken revelry. Set at a remote mountain hotel, the film features cinematography that straddles the aesthetic line between documentary and narrative film, often leaving the viewer with a sense of unease. Men Don’t Cry embraces moral uncertainty and the effects of time on painful memories as it explores themes of ethnic conflict and the impact, both physical and emotional, that war leaves on its participants. The film also delves into gender issues with its exploration of the role played by masculinity in shaping war and the way veterans deal with their past experiences. Tense and unsettling, Men Don’t Cry casts doubt on the value and possibility of the emotional catharsis sought by its protagonists.

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DEATH IN SARAJEVO

Smrt u Sarajevu

2016 | Danis Tanović | 85 min

Narrative Feature

An aging hotel becomes an ideological powder keg during centennial commemorations for the outbreak of the First World War.

FINDING FAMILY

Pronalaženje porodice

2013 | Chris Leslie, Oggi Tomić |55 min

Narrative Feature

Abandoned at birth in war-torn Bosnia to a childhood plagued by near starvation, Oggi Tomic did not get the best start in life. Twenty seven years on, now happily married and settled in the UK, he receives the phone call that every orphan dreams of: his family have tracked him down and want to meet up. But as Oggi journeys home for an extraordinary reunion, he uncovers a chapter of family history he would sooner forget. Could these be the people who once tried to kill him?

FROG

Žaba

2017 | Elmir Jukić |

78 Minutes

Narrative Feature

Zeko, a barber in Bosnia and veteran of the conflicts of the 1990s, finds himself prone to violent fits resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder. After being left by his family, Zeko attempts to reassemble the pieces of his life by reaching out to his brother Braco. Discontent with the current state of affairs in Bosnia, Braco struggles with alcoholism and a gambling addiction. Along with their friend Švabo, a cab driver who has been cheating on his wife with a younger woman, Zeko and Braco attempt to spend the Muslim holiday of Eid in Zeko’s barber shop, thinking about old times and commiserating about their problems in hopes of finding a resolution. The day ends in acrimony, however, and Zeko, alone, must contemplate whether life is worth living. Along the way, he becomes infatuated with a fictional Japanese character that gives the film its name; the titular frog dominates Zeko’s life and helps reshape his philosophy and outlook on life. Based on the stage play by Dubravko Mihanović, Frog features emotional performances from Emir Hadžihafizbegović, Aleksandar Seksan, and Mirsad Tuka, and is a pensive mediation on war, memory, religion, nostalgia, love, and personal conflict.

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OUR EVERYDAY LIFE

Naša svakodnevna priča

2015 | Ines Tanović |

89 min
Narrative Feature

Family Sušić lives everyday Bosnian story. Father Muhamed (63) is employed in a reputable company; mother Marija (60) is retired. Son Saša (35), who spent the war in Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, lives with his parents, while their daughter Senada (40) lives in Slovenia. Their life begins to fall apart because of father's dissatisfaction after his company is sold on the stock exchange, Saša's negligent attitude towards work and family, Marija's breast cancer diagnose. When problems begin to line up Muhamed and Saša realize that actually only family is important, that it is man's last oasis.

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GREAT WALL OF CHINA

Kineski zid

2017 | Aleksandra Odić | 36 Minutes

Short Narrative

The legacy of the conflicts of the 1990s lurks in the background of a family gathering in the Bosnian countryside, as experienced by a young girl named Maja. Events are upended by the arrival of Maja’s aunt Lilja, an impassioned young woman with artistic ambitions. The family wants Lilja to work in a shoe factory, but she dreams of exploring the world. Thoughts of China and its Great Wall symbolize the allure of distant lands, sparking fantasies and dreams of escapism for both Maja and Lilja. Maja’s sense of childhood wonder is threatened when she is forced to make an adult decision after learning that Lilja secretly plans to join the family’s neighbor, who has been ostracized for leaving Bosnia for Germany. Brooding and thoughtful, Great Wall of China examines the boundaries between childhood and adulthood, familial ties, and the lingering memory of the Bosnian war. The film makes sparing and economic use of music to maximize its emotional impact, while evocative cinematography engages the viewer leading up to an emotional conclusion.

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DAMAGED GOODS

Kalo

2015 | Nermin Hamzagić | 20 min
Short Feature

Tarik lives alone and works in the warehouse of a supermarket. He's lonely and kills time hanging around with two colleagues. New worker comes to the small shop next to the supermarket. Tarik likes her and secretly starts to draw on the glass of the shop, hidden by the night, away from the prying eyes of society in which any kind of emotion is a sign of weakness.

NOMOPHOBIA

Nomofobia

2018 | Ado Hasanović | 14 min

Short Feature

Maria is about to finish cooking lunch when her daughter Jessica arrives home after school. Maria has just been to the parents-teachers meeting and feels totally disappointed by Jessica’s grades. Nevertheless, as soon as she tries to introduce the topic she ends up talking alone: the teenager is too busy texting with her best friend. Exasperated after the umpteenth try, the woman grabs her daughter’s phone and says she will not have it back until she will start studying in a serious way, prohibiting Facebook as well. Jessica, desperate, tries by any means necessary to take the phone back, in this realistic and spontaneous short film shot in a single take.

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REFUGEE 532

Izbjeglica 532

2015 | Goran Kapetanović | 14 min

Short Feature

The unaccompanied refugee Sevko, 12, tries to cope with his new life in Sweden. He is struggling between hope and despair, waiting for news from the war zone in Bosnia. Being bullied by the other young refugees, he decides to throw a party his own way.

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VARIABLES

Varijable

2019 | Sabina Vajrača | 24 min

Short Narrative

15-year-old maths whiz Nikola is offered an unexpected chance to escape war-torn Sarajevo when his math club receives an invitation to participate in the 1995 International Math Olympics in Canada. Nikola initially sees the invitation as a reward for his dedication to mathematics and his club in the midst of the siege of Sarajevo.  It is also a chance to experience teenage life outside of a war zone. But escape comes with a price: Nikola must face the possibility of leaving, and perhaps never again seeing, his mother and younger sister.  

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THE INFIDEL

Ćafir

2020 | Nejra Latić Hulusić | 63 min

Documentary

A young Bosnian, Dino, whose father moved his family from Bihać to a closed commune of the Islamic Wahhabi movement, is trying to rebuild his life after inadvertently giving a ride to a man who later perpetrated a terror attack on the American embassy in Sarajevo. After being accused of involvement in the attack and spending time in jail, Dino renounces his religion and returns to his hometown to start over. But, he struggles with rejection both from his community and his family, who now live in Syria. 

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THE MUSEUM OF FORGOTTEN TRIUMPH 

2018 | Bojan Bodruzić | 87 min

Documentary

After being evacuated as a child in 1992, Vancouver-based filmmaker Bojan Bodružić returned to Sarajevo in 2000 and began to film his grandparents. Over the following years, he recorded their extraordinary life stories. Charming and spirited, the elderly couple eagerly share their experiences (starting with WW II and ending with the Bosnian War), even insisting that their grandson finish the film as they fall ill in their twilight years. A first-hand account of the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, as well as a family portrait full of impressions of a country forever changed, the film collates an invaluable collection of memories—both personal and historical—into an affecting work.

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TO BE FAR

Biti daleko

2017 | Samira Kameli, Sajra Subašić | 9 min

Short Documentary

​In September 2017, Samira has traveled to Sarajevo from Iran. She is there for the first time, intending to make a documentary. Attempting to connect with the country and its people, she seeks out others who have traveled great distances to be there. Locating a refugee center, she hopes to find others who are in a similar situation, but all she finds are closed gates. Ultimately, Samira is allowed to film the center but not to speak to any of the people there.

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THE CHICKEN

Kokoška

Una Gunjak | 2014 |

15 min

Short Fiction

As a present for her 6th birthday, Selma gets a live chicken. When she realizes the animal is going to be killed to feed the family, she decides to save it and set it free, unaware of the high stakes such action will lead to. While trying to bring back the missing chicken, Selma's mum becomes the target of a sniper shoot. Sarajevo, 1993.