Mladen Mitrović: Chasing a Dream

I read that a film co-produced by Factum in Croatia had won the Audience Award at the recent Sarajevo Film Festival. I wrote to Nenad Puhovski in Zagreb and he sent me a link to the 145 minutes long documentary that Mladen Mitrović made by filming for more than 5 years on 4 different continents – in 12 countries (BiH, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, German, Russia, Sweden, Tunis, Turkey, Iraq, Mexico and USA). Quite an impressive achievement for the director, who like his protagonists left Sarajevo in the late 80’es and beginning of 90’es, when the war went on. They are Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats and what they have in common is that they played as kids in the director’s film, the (to quote the site of Factum) ”iconic child’s film Small Passage that he made in Sarajevo’s district of Grbavica.” That film was made in 1987.

The film is very cleverly built. The director goes to find his now grown up kids, wherever they are, to describe what kind of life they lead now. Cut from one to the other, cut according to themes, family, women, clips from ”Small Passage”, reflective voice-off´s from the director on memories, on Life away from home/birthplace, childhood, broken dreams, dreams for the future – and ”how to resemble a pot that was broken a long time ago?”. The film in other words. He tried and succeeded.

The cleverness – the editing has been a hard job but once you are IN the film, it takes a while I have to admit to get ”who is who” – lies in the fact, contrary to what you could have expected, that the theme of war and leaving Sarajevo and family tragedies does not come into the story before towards the end and is not overdone. It could have tipped the film to something different than it is been:

Some boys from the same school in Sarajevo, ”Brotherhood and Unity”, spread all over the world, come together again in their hometown. That in itself is pretty emotional, of course, but there is also warm hugs and fun when they play football against the EUFOR soldiers, who are now in Sarajevo. Melancholia and nostalgia – they talk about that and it is expressed and it goes with the frame of the film, the song from Jadranka Stojakovic, with whom the director at the beginning of the film has a skype contact. She made the music to the film from 1987 and she sings beautifully, pure poetry, with water as theme and tool for associative editing.

Too long? Yes, it could have been shorter without losing impact, a shorter version would help its international life. Nevertheless, impressive warm humanistic work, universal as is the 7UP series that I thought about while watching, and so understandable that the film won an Audience Award in the city, where they all lived when Yugoslavia existed.

Bosnia-Herzegovina,Serbia,Croatia, 2015, 145 mins.


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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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