De guerre lasses follows a year in the life of those who are rebuilding their lives after war. Sedina, Jasmina and Senada, three Bosnian women exhausted by the war which stole their husbands, recount their stories. From the initial idea of the film in 1995 to its release in October 2003, including a television broadcast and an entire host of festival nominations, De guerre lasses, Laurent Bécue-Renard’s first film, has come to know several lives and serves as an account of the career of a determined man, if that’s what he is.

Laurent Bécue-Renard

Emma Baus: How did De guerre lasses start?

Laurent Bécue-Renard: I was at university in the United States when a subsidiary of the daily newspaper Libération invited me to work for a month on an Internet magazine in the besieged city of Sarajevo. I arrived in 1995 during a lull in the first year of the war. The fighting started again, but Bosnia had taken hold of me, so I stayed there to continue the project.

EB: It was at that time that you learned about the work carried out by Vive Zene, wasn’t it?

LBR: It was in the last few days of those eight months that I met Fica, a therapist. She agreed to let us attend a group therapy session with women from Srebrenica, victims of the Bosnian Serb army. When I left, I decided I was going to make a film even though my main method of expression was writing. This was essential for evidence, it had to be a film, it had to be a representation of reality from real people. A long time passed…I reflected on it for a year and a half but without writing anything, without even knowing what had become of the therapy centre. Settling back into real life, for me as for all the witnesses of the war in Bosnia, was very difficult. I went back and explained my idea to Fica who agreed to help. I wrote the project and I finally began to film two and a half years after having the initial idea.

De guerre lasses

EB: What filming techniques did you use?

LBR: The filming took place over a period of a year in 1998-99. I used a digital video camera with a microphone attached, no sound engineers. For the first five months I worked alone and went to the centre fifteen days a month until I went back to France to prepare the rushes. Then I found a production company and two head cameramen experienced in documentary work to accompany me back. Post-production took another year because there were 300 hours of material, 200 of which were purely dialogue. The idea was to have a process of originating through words, so I had to film continuously. At first, I followed fifteen women, then after four months I chose just four to follow to the very end.

De guerre lasses by Laurent Bécue-Renard

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