Sarajevo – Documentary Competition 2016/ 2

As a follow-up to the presentation of the documentary competition in Sarajevo this year, I made a small email conversation with Rada Sesic, programmer of the documentary competition at the Sarajevo festival (August 12 – 20).

…This year many filmmakers have been brave enough to look critically into their own backyard and not point at the others. Several documentaries focus strongly on the relationship between national and personal memory of historic events. They recollect dramatic life moments either in first person or from a very intimate perspective of their main protagonists. Through talking about painful past events from a somewhat more removed position, many films underline the urgency to talk about the past.

… Unlike most documentaries that have previously been made in

our region, the films this year do not point the finger at the other but at their own makers and their communities. A big number of directors have spiced their film narratives with a layer of their own subconscious and, as a result the films are reflecting their own inner conflicts.

… For these reasons I feel that many of this year’s films would be, if given a chance, warmly received by cinemagoers in general and not only at the international film festivals. From a local perspective, these are extremely important films because they speak up for many individuals in our region, who are pondering over the same or similar puzzling matters. Painful sincere stories help us appropriate history in a personal manner, to survive our nightmares and connect with our memories and fears.

I asked Rada to highlight a couple of films which has the narrative focus, she has talked about.

She mentioned “Down There” (“Unten”) an Austrian film by Djordje Čenić, “an autobiographical journey through time, which begins in the mid-seventies in the Yugoslavian “guest worker milieu” in Linz and leads him to his original home town, which was destroyed by war, in today’s Croatia.”

She also mentions “Depth Two” by Serbian Ognjen Glavonic, already reviewed and praised on filmkommentaren, Rada calls it “amazing”.

And, first and foremost, “My Own Private War” (photo) by Lidija Zelovic, that is “a very strong, brave movie by a Sarajevan girl, who now lives in Amsterdam”, says Rada Sesic. Here is the description of the film:

”Mama, what is the difference between good and bad ?” What happens when collective trauma enters a family ? How do you get to terms with your war history? And how can you ensure that your children don’t have to carry this burden? In this very personal documentary Lidija Zelović tries to answer this question. A story told from the personal experience of the filmmaker.

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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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