Do You Remember Sarajevo?

Sead and Nihad KresevljakovichNedim Alikadich

Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2002, 52 min.

And yet this film is one of the most important historical documents of the last decade. It is a compilation of amateur footage shot by Sarajevo citizens during a war that took place not so long ago. Close to us in Europe lies Sarajevo, a magical name, once a beautiful city with beautiful buildings, then victimized by terrorist attacks and now a tragic symbol. Deserted towers still stand with gaping holes where once there were windows. Many were snipers’ nests. Is it all forgotten? Do you remember Sarajevo … where the Yugoslav National Army was killing the citizens of a city that was not allowed to defend itself by the international community?

«Golden days for filmmaking,» a Bosnian producer once said to me in a tone full of  sarcasm. He reported that they were filming every single day, and not only the film professionals were doing so. Citizens from many walks of life grabbed their hobby cameras to register the events. This is what makes up this documentary, structurally loose but communicating an enormous atmosphere of presence and authenticity that no journalistic documentary will ever be able to capture. Or to use an advertising phrase, it’s the real thing. Shots of everyday activities during the siege from 1992 to 1995, flashes in the sky from constant firing from the surrounding mountain slopes, people crossing the street in fear that the next minute could be their last if hit by a sniper’s bullet.

Though it sounds like a sad film that is difficult to watch, it is not at all, owing to the loose structure chosen by the young directors, which includes amateur footage in an unpretentious, uncommented, direct way. Not only that, the directors themselves pop up in the film once in a while doing gags in and outside their house. Black humour you might call it, but it reflects the feeling of survival as it must have been during the siege. Life went on under these crazy conditions where organisers even managed to hold a film festival.

In answer to the film title’s question, yes, I do. I remember Sarajevo.

Modern Times Review