AO: Your latest film Soske (Why) tells the story of three political refugees now living in The Netherlands. How did you find these people? Are you telling your own story through them?
RS: “Absolutely. I believe that filmmaking is a very personal thing, and by choosing the subject, the approach, the method and the way you edit it and create a soundtrack, everything says something about the filmmaker and also tells the story of the film’s protagonists. Especially in Soske, everybody in the film is my personal friend. Some of them I knew very closely before we started making the film. We only had three days of shooting with each person, and from the first moment, we got along very well. The crew was also small, only a cameraman and a producer who did sound and everything else, and me. None of us is Dutch, so we got close to our heroes easily. We felt as if we suffer from the same disease and understand each other without many words”.
After arriving in The Netherlands in 1993, Rada Sesic felt the necessity of visually expressing what she had experienced in Bosnia. It took time to get funding for her first film Room Without a View, a Dutch production made in 1997, but after the success of this 16mm, personal, experimental documentary, it was a bit easier to find money for her next film. Living in a new country taught her to be more patient and wait longer, and her attitude to filmmaking means that she only makes a film when she feels very strongly about a certain subject.
AO: Have you become more politically oriented? Do you think documentaries and documentary-makers should take a political stand and express political opinions through their art?
RS: “I was never a very politically oriented person, but if your country is in the news every day for four years and if everything that matters in your life depends on the development of the politics in the region and in the world and the solutions that the politicians could offer, then your life, personal and professional as well, becomes part of the politics. So in that sense, I became more politically conscious in my filmmaking as well. I follow current developments in Palestine and Israel, for example, or Gujarat and Kashmir, India, with much more understanding and compassion than I would have before. I feel I have been there too, I feel that I know what they are experiencing, how they must be feeling. And I believe that the filmmaking of people from the affected areas is necessarily political. But I must say I am more fond of watching ’small’, personal, diary films by filmmakers from turbulent areas than some sort of objective, straightforward political reportage-like documentaries. I remember films by directors Azza El-Hassani (Palestine), Dan Katzir (Israel) and Vesna Ljubic (Sarajevo) as good examples of personal films about war”.
AO: Has the fact that you are a refugee living ‘in exile’ changed anything in the way you make films? Are there films you want to make now because of your special status?
RD: “Living away from my home country, far from my own people and family, not using my own language for everyday communication… all these things make me experience life differently. I haven’t consciously changed my filmmaking methods, I have changed as a person. So the way I make films has changed too. I see life and people around me – their problems, desires, pains and joys – in a different light now. For example, before the war broke out I was just finishing my documentary on the human body, on the lost Grecian idea of the beauty of the human body. The film was shot in the gym in Sarajevo, and the idea I treated was in a certain way the relation between muscles and the machines that train them. It was a rather funny documentary. I stopped working on it during the editing process, film rushes were just left on the editing table somewhere at Television Sarajevo. But this idea doesn’t interest me anymore. I have changed so much that I see neither the human body or gyms or beauty as I did before. It’s like having another life and being connected with my previous life in a spiral line – the line hasn’t been cut, but I am at a level further away from what I was, for better or for worse”.
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