Balkans & Bosnia Herzegovina Films

The disintegration of Yugoslavia and particularly the Bosnian war against Serbian forces, makes for a substantial category of films, made both within the former Yugoslav bloc and outside of it. The gradual secession of countries from the Yugoslav federation led to a prolonged series of conflicts throughout the 1990s, however the violence and the crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, namely the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks remain a difficult subject for reconciliation. As the newly independent  countries rebuilt their national identities, many films were made commemorating the events that took place during the war and the enduring legacies of loss and shattered family ties that were wrought by the conflict.

  • Mostar Bridge: Bridge in multi-cultural Bosnian town of Mostar destroyed during Balkan war and susequently rebuilt. Taken 2009 Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Copyright V. Nesfield, used with permission.

 

As If I am Not There (2010) This drama is inspired by the true stories revealed during the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Samira is a modern schoolteacher in Sarajevo who takes a job in a small country village, as the war is becoming more intense. When Serbian soldiers overrun the village, shoot the men and keep the women as labourers (the older ones) and sex objects (the younger ones), Samira is subjected to the basest form of treatment imaginable. (Directed by Juanita Wilson.)

A Stranger (2013) When Slavko's old friend Djulaga dies, Slavko feels obliged to go to the funeral. But in his hometown of Mostar, in Bosnia & Herzegovina, this simple social obligation has the potential to get him into all kinds of trouble: with his neighbours or even with local political bigwigs. This is a compelling tale of everyday life in a fractured society, and a world where paranoia, comedy and drama co-exist. It is also an astute psychological portrait of a man who is forced to cross the invisible line that divides two communities. Above all, it is the story of a man who lost everything that defined him, when his country disintegrated. (Directed by Bobo Jelčić.)

Back to Bosnia (Na put Bosne kuci) (2005) A documentary that shows the uphill battle that refugees face when trying to return to Bosnia, or even just to reclaim their properties. It shows not only the problems that Bosniaks face, but also the problems of Bosnian Serb refugees. (Directed by Sabina Vajraca.)

Beautiful People (1999) A lively, darkly comic vision of Bosnian refugees making a new life in London and the Londoners whose lives they change. (Directed by Jasmin Dizdar.)

Before the Rain (1994) An Oscar nominated foreign language film set in London and the Balkans highlighting the human tragedy involved in civil war. Set against a background of political turbulence in Macedonia and contemporary London, three love stories intertwine to create a powerful portrait of modern Europe. (Directed by Milcho Manchevski.)

Behind Enemy Lines (2001) A Navy navigator is shot down over enemy territory and pursued by a secret police enforcer and the opposing Serbian troops. Meanwhile his commanding officer goes against orders in an attempt to rescue him. (Directed by John Moore.)

Body Complete (2012) This film deals with the impact of the Bosnian war on society. The filming mainly took place at authentic settings in Sarajevo and its surroundings. The organisation "Women of Srebrenica", regularly staging demonstrations to ensure that the search for lost men, children and relatives will continue, travelled to Sarajevo to play a part in one of the key scenes of the film. (Directed by Lukas Sturm.)

Bosnia Diaries (2005) Film-diary, in which Joaquim Sapinho reports his experiences lived during the two times he went to Bosnia. The film is composed of two sets of images, from two different shooting periods. One corresponds to the first time Sapinho went to Bosnia, in 1996 at the war’s end, the other to the second time, in 1997 as the victims of war attempted to return home to normality. (Directed by Joaquim Sapinho.)

Calling the Ghosts (1997) is an Emmy-award winning documentary film that details the experience of Nusreta Sivac and Jadranka Cigelj at the Bosnian Serb-run Omarska camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War. The film's premiere was sponsored by Amnesty International, the Coalition for International Justice, the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian law, and the Bosnian branch of Women for Women International. (Directed by Mandy Jacobson and Karmen Jelincic.)

Demons of War (Demony Wojny) (1998) After the Bosnian War, Bosnia and Herzegovina is occupied by the NATO-led (IFOR) Implementation Force. In February 1996, a unit of Polish IFOR troops detains and releases three foreign mercenaries in Srebrenica, before they can be executed by a Bosnian mob. The Polish unit is led by Major Edward "Edek" Keller (Boguslaw Linda). Soon later, Keller is under investigation for insubordination and for clashes with the Bosnian militia and foreign mercenaries. (Directed by Władysław Pasikowski.)

The Enclave (De Enclave) (2002) is a three-part series directed about the fall of Srebrenica and the Dutch government's failure to protect the town from attackers. De Enclave is a Dutch TV series about the mass murders in Srebrenica during the Bosnia war. It tells a part of the Bosnia war, personalized in Ibro Hadzic, who lost all of his family there. It begins with the Yugoslavian tribunal in Holland (7 years after the war), when war criminal Darko Bokan is being prosecuted. Ibro Hadzic worked for Dutchbat during the fall of Srebrenica and saw his family being deported. Years later, during the Yugoslavian tribunal in Holland, he works as a translator. While working there, Ibro keeps reliving has awful past and eventually decides to kidnap Darko Bokan. In the last episode, former Minister of Defence Terhoef from Holland goes to visit Srebrenica twelve years after the horrible incidents. There, he discovers some horrifying things. (Directed by Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen.)

Go West (2005) In the nineties the Yugoslavia Federation falls apart in bloody wars. Perpetual student Milan, a Serb from a patriarchal community and Kenan, a Muslim cellist, are a homosexual couple living in Sarajevo. Their lives, intimate and public, are shaken up by the aggression in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose devastating consequences unfold in inter-ethnic hatred. (Directed by Ahmed Imamović.)

Grbavica (2006) Set against the backdrop of a former Yugoslavia of the nineteen-nineties, this is a single mother's anguish of how one must deal with truths and how to cope with a war's terrible past. With a twelve year old daughter to bring-up, both mother and child come head-to-head when a school trip is in the air and complications and rude awakenings arise from the ashes' of the cold and callous days of conflict, xenophobia and its secrets. (Directed by Jasmila Žbanić.)

Halima’s Path (Halimin put) (2012) In order to recover the body of her son lost during the war in Bosnia, a grieving, but strong-willed Muslim woman, Halima, must track down her estranged niece, who we find carries a mysterious connection to him. (Directed by Arsen A. Ostojic.)

The Hunting Party (2007) Satirical adventure starring Richard Gere as seasoned TV news reporter Simon Hunt, who goes missing while on an assignment with cameraman Duck (Terrence Howard) in Bosnia. Five years later, as the Bosnian war draws to a close, Simon turns up and convinces Duck and rookie reporter Benjamin (Jessie Eisenberg) that he has the scoop of a lifetime: he knows the whereabouts of Bosnia's most wanted war criminal. Armed only with spurious information, the trio sets off to track down this most dangerous of men. But things get more than a little hairy when they are mistaken for a CIA hit squad and their quarry turns on them. (Directed by Richard Shepard.)

In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011) During the Bosnian War, Danijel, a soldier fighting for the Serbs, re-encounters Ajla, a Bosnian who's now a captive in the camp he oversees. Their once promising connection has become ambiguous as their motives have changed and Ajla spots an opportunity to exploit Danijel in her efforts to unify the captive women in the camp. (Directed by Angelina Jolie.)

In the Name of the Son (2007) A film that looks at human conflicts in the present, brought about during personal clashes in the Bosnian war in 1994. The psychosis of the conflicts that war inevitably brings, then coping with these in civilian life, are never easy. However, years later, the two main protagonists' feelings of guilt and torment are brought to bear with near devastating consequences. (Directed by Harun Mehmedinovic.)

Life is a Miracle (2004) Luka (Slavko Stimac) is a mild-mannered railway clerk whose life is turned upside down, not just by the outbreak of the war, but when his wife runs off with a local musician. When Luka's son is conscripted and then captured in the fighting, Luka is commanded to guard a pretty young Muslim nurse who will be used in a hostage swapping operation to recover his son. Love prevails even in the middle of a war however, as Luka finds himself slowly falling in love with the woman he is supposed to be guarding. (Directed by Emir Kusturica.)

No Man’s Land (2001) Drama set in the middle of the war between Bosnia and Serbia. Two soldiers from opposing sides, Bosnian Chiki (Branco Djuric) and Serb Nino (Rene Bitorajac), find themselves trapped together in a stalemate in no man's land. Both are similarly armed, and both are having equal difficulty in contacting their fellow troops for help; so what should they do now? (Directed by Danis Tanovic.)

The Perfect Circle (Savršeni krug) (1997) Bosnian film set in Sarajevo during the siege of 1992-1996. During war time, the bonds forged by those struggling to survive the ravages of battle can be stronger than blood ties, something an emotionally-distant Bosnian poet discovers when he befriends a pair of war orphans and helps them search for their last surviving family member. The story begins in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war and centres on Hamza, who is first seen having a heated conversation with his wife, who accuses him of self-centeredness for not actively helping to get her and their adolescent daughter to safety. Shortly thereafter, the wife and daughter leave the city. One day, Hamza encounters seven-year-old Adis and his mute nine-year-old brother Kerim. With no one left to care for them, they are seeking their aunt Aicha, who has disappeared. During their arduous journey, the three befriend a wounded dog and thus an unlikely family is formed amidst the death and devastation. (Directed by Ademir Kenovic.)

Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (Lepa sela lepo gore) (1996) Milan and Halil are childhood friends who go on to set up a vehicle repair business together. However, when war arrives in their native Bosnia in the early 1990s the former friends find themselves fighting on opposite sides. Milan is injured and, while stranded in hospital, finds himself recalling his many dead comrades. When he learns that a Muslim soldier, an enemy, is in the next ward, he becomes determined to kill the man in an attempt to avenge the deaths of his fellow soldiers. (Directed by Srđan Dragojević.)

Savior (2000) Joshua (Dennis Quaid) is a Foreign Legion soldier with a horrific past: after the fatal bombing of his family, he had gone on a murder spree in revenge, and joined the Legion to escape punishment. Finding himself in war-torn Bosnia, fighting as a mercenary for the Serbs, his conscience is pricked by the plight of a Serb woman who has been raped by Muslim soldiers. Pregnant from the assault, she rejects the baby when it is born, leaving Joshua with the responsibility of caring for the child and a chance to rediscover his humanity. (Directed by Predrag Antonijević.)

Shot Through the Heart (1998) Covers the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. The film is based on a true story and an article called Anti-Sniper by John Falk. The horrors of war are examined from the view points of lifelong friends and expert sharpshooters Vlado Selimović and Slavko Stanic who end up on opposing sides of the Bosnian War in Sarajevo. (Directed by David Attwood.)

Snow (Snijeg) (2008) The movie takes place in autumn 1997, in the small Bosniak village of Slavno, in central Bosnia. Only the women and girls are left, along with an old grandfather and a little boy. This is a film about the resilience of the women who survived the genocide in Bosnia and their attempts to recover in the aftermath of war. (Directed by Aida Begic.)

Svjedok (2012) This film is based on a true story that happened during the war between Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some of the participants in this film lived through this terrible experience personally. Rajif Begic, the witness, plays himself in this film. Through his strong will, commitment and courage he testified at the Haag tribunal committee and the Superior Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina against the Serbian war criminals. (Directed by Haris Bilajbegovic.)

Warchild (Stille Sehnsucht) (2006) This film tells the story of a Bosnian woman, Senada, whose family life was torn apart during the war. Senada is determined to locate her daughter, who was taken from her by aid workers during the war and adopted by another family. (Directed by Christian Wagner.)

Warriors (1999) is a British television drama series which tells the story of a group of British soldiers sent to Bosnia to serve in a peacekeeping operation of the UNPROFOR in Vitez, during the Lašva Valley ethnic cleansing in 1993. The soldiers feel confident that the experience of war will not touch them; but from the moment they arrive they are immersed in circumstances of extreme emotion. (Directed by Peter Kosminsky.)

Welcome to Sarajevo (1997) tells the true story of ITN reporter Michael Henderson (Stephen Dillane) who travels to Sarajevo, the besieged capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He meets American star journalist Jimmy Flynn on the chase for the most exciting stories and pictures. Their work permits them blunt and unobstructed views of the suffering of the people of Sarajevo. The situation changes when Henderson makes a report from an orphanage located on the front lines (Ljubica Ivezic Orphanage) in which two hundred children live in desperate conditions. (Directed by Michael Winterbottom.)

Where Eskimos Live (2002) Drama starring Bob Hoskins. Vlado (Sergiusz Zymelka) is a young orphan in Bosnia who dreams of a better life. When he meets Sharkey (Hoskins), an Englishman who is rounding up children for a black market adoption ring in Poland while disguising himself as a UNICEF caseworker, Vlado is persuaded by Sharkey to join him. As the pair attempt to escape the war-torn country, they soon become unlikely friends. (Directed by Tomasz Wiszniewski.)

The Whistleblower (2010) Inspired by actual events, the film tells the story of Kathryn Bolkovac who accepts an offer to work with the U.N. International Police in post-war Bosnia at a U.K. Upon fighting for the trial for a Muslim woman suffering from domestic abuse and succeeding, Kathryn is made head of the department of gender affairs. She becomes involved in the case of a young Ukrainian woman named Raya, who had recently been sold by her aunt's husband to a sex trafficking ring. Through Raya's case, Kathryn is able to uncover a wide-scale sexual slavery and human-trafficking ring that various international personnel, including that of the U.S., have participated in. (Directed by Larysa Kondracki.) 

Film synopses and descriptions for As If I Am Not There; A Stranger; Go West; Grbavica; Halima’s Path; In the Name of the Son, and Svjedok sourced from IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/) . Descriptions for Behind Enemy Lines; Bosnia Diaries; Demons of War; The Enclave; The Hunting Party; In the Land of Blood and Honey; Life is a Miracle; No Man’s Land; The Perfect Circle; Pretty Village, Pretty Flame; Saviour; Shot Though the Heart; Warriors, and Where Eskimos Live, sourced from Amazon UK (www.amazon.co.uk). Synopsis for Beautiful People from Amazon USA (http://www.amazon.com/).  

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