The film industry in Yugoslavia once rivalled that of the U.K. or United States until the country descended into war. In modern times, productions are booming in Bosnia and tell the story of life during and after the war. Others portray how the former Yugoslavs lived under Tito. Here are 10 of the best to give you insights into Bosnian life.
1 Welcome to Sarajevo (1997):
Welcome to Sarajevo follows the story of British and American journalists reporting on the Bosnian War. The British visits an orphanage and with the help of aid workers tries to get the children out of Bosnia. Based on a true story, Welcome to Sarajevo is one of the best Bosnian films to give viewers an introduction to the realities of war.
2 No Man’s Land (2001):
3 The Whistleblower (2010):
Rachel Weisz stars in this harrowing production based on real events experienced by a Nebraskan police officer acting as a post-war U.N. peacekeeper. The Whistleblower is a graphic and dark film exposing Bosnia’s scandalous sex trafficking industry, which involved the UN. Those who experienced the awful events say the film resembles actual events. Expect an emotional experience as you watch and understand what the poor victims lived through after surviving the horrors war. This movie isn’t for the faint-hearted.
4# Tito and Me (1992):
Tito and Me offers something different to the typical Bosnian war films and focuses on the contradictions and difficulties of family life in Yugoslavia. Zoran, a 10-year-old, happy-go-lucky child, accepts school propaganda and idolises Tito. His entire family lives in a cramped house after falling victims to land reform, which took away their right to own property. The film follows the story of Zoran’s participation in March Around Tito’s Homeland.
Zoran goes on a journey and changes from idolising to disliking Tito. This film shows the contradictions of daily life under socialism in a satirical way, making it one of the more interesting films from Bosnia.
5 Days and Hours (2004):
Days and Hours, directed by Pjer Zalica, present a different angle on the stereotypical Bosnian war movie: the aftermath and readjusting back to life. The plot follows a nephew visiting his dysfunctional aunt and uncle. Both suffer from immeasurable grief after losing their son during the war. Elements of humour combine with the sad drama and reality that many families endure as they try to cope with loss. A positive twist sees the film conclude with a party to celebrate life instead of the melancholy of loss, which is often described in other books and films.
6 Men Don’t Cry (2017):
Another must-see Bosnian film, it shows the lifelong physical and psychological suffering of Yugoslav War veterans. A group of macho middle-aged Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, who once fought against each other, attend group therapy. Inevitably, tensions spill over and unlikely friendships develop. Anyone who wants to understand the difficulties and post-traumatic stress that a significant proportion of Bosnia’s population battle with should watch Men Don’t Cry.
7 On the Path (2010):
On the Path, or Na putu, tells the story of how living through a conflict changes people and their fundamental values. A young Bosniak couple, Luna and Amar, fall in love after experiencing the trauma of war and loss. Amar, who fought in the war, develops an alcohol problem and later accepts a job in a conservative Wahhabis community to cleanse his soul. The main character then adopts a strict form of Islam, putting a strain on the couple’s relationship.
8 The Abandoned (2010):
The Abandoned shows the sad realities of how women and children suffer in conflicts. A young boy living in a home for abandoned children grows ups trying to find the identity of his family. The Bosnian War orphaned many children and broke up families, and Bosnian director, Adis Bakrac, presents the challenges of growing up without a family.
9 Cirkus Columbia (2010):
An expat returns to his home in Herzegovina as a rich and pompous outcast. Tensions in Yugoslavia boil over, and the film shows the story of someone trying to manage his complicated family life and the growing ethnic tensions. This dark comedy introduces viewers to the reality of segregation and what residents endured with forced evictions and racial violence.
10 Remake (2003):
Ahmed and Tarik are father and son. The father lived in Sarajevo during WW2 and Tarik in the Siege of Sarajevo. Remake narrates the events of the father and son’s coming of age, and they lived through the two conflicts. As you watch, you’ll notice the distinct undertones of history repeating itself and understand the concept of how different generations suffered through the same horrific experiences.
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