Sarajevo FF: True Stories Market

… was a public presentation of 9 stories by different organisations, which are Dealing with the Past. It took place yesterday at Hotel Europe, the centre for the Industry part of the Sarajevo Film Festival. The manager of the project Masa Markovic formulates “that the purpose is evident in its name. We believe that an open and honest discussion about our painful recent past is a prerequisite if we want to resolve the problems stemming from the wars in the former Yugoslavia that continue to be a burden on us…”

It would be wrong to say that it was a pleasure to attend the 90 minutes presentation – one horror story after the other – to an audience of – among others – filmmakers, who might be interested in turning the stories into films.

These are stories with many layers, said the moderator, Croatian

filmmaker Robert Zuber, who stressed that the people up here at the panel have done the research, dear filmmakers…

Let me mention two of the stories presented by Milica Kostic from the regional Humanitarian Law Centre, which is situated in Belgrade. A long quote from the text in the catalogue:

The fall of the UN’s “safe haven” of Srebrenica into the hands of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) commenced with the entry into the town of soldiers from the 10th Sabotage Detachment of the VRS on 11 July, 1995. Over the followjing days, VRS soldiers systematically captured and executed Bosniak men and boys found in Srebrenica, including many who were hunted down while they tried to flee. By 16 July, more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were executed. Some men managed to escape and reached the border at the Drina River, hoping they would be allowed to cross into Serbia and find protection there. However, their attempt to cross the border was prevented by the border guards of the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, who returned them to the VRS to be executed. By 1 August 1, at least 30 Bosniak men had been captured by border guards and turned over to the VRS.

The remains of 15 of these deported men were found in mass graves in Srebrenica; nine others are still reported missing; only six managed to survive…

In an emotionally strong interview, that Milica Kostic showed a clip from, the son of one of the missing persons – at the time he was 11 years old – remembers when he was taken away from his father: Normally people say goodbye when they split…

There is a film to be done here as there is about the work that they do at the Humanitarian Law Centre. When in preparation meetings for the presentations, that I took part in, Robert Zuber suggested that a film could be made about the Centre thus getting into some of the cases that Kostic mentioned. For instance they have just filed a criminal complaint against Serbian former members of the State Security Service.

Other organisations present were Centre for Civic Education, that came up with an interesting story about the concentration camp Mamula on an island in Montenegro which is on the edge of being turned into a holiday resort. And the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia with “Serbia and Kosovo: Intercultural Icebreakers”. And Medica Zenica with a story about Zehra, a survivor of war time rape. And Association for Social Research and Communications with a touching story about Edhem, who was killed but could have been part of an prisoner exchange. A quote from the catalogue:

On October 13, Radio of Bosnia and Herzegovina reported on a prisoner exchange, as part of which the prisoners of the Batković prison camp were to be released. At that moment, Senija was at work on her new job at Himzo Bajrić’s hair salon in Gračanica. She was shaving a customer when the radio reported that 180 men from Brčko had been exchanged and that only Edhem was not among them. A few tears rolled down her cheeks, but nobody at the salon realised what was happening. She did not tell anyone. She thought she might have misunderstood the reporter or that maybe the reporter was wrong. However, in a new report broadcast at 11am, the reporter repeated that Edhem had been killed…

Finally there were 3 projects presented by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) that last year presented a project that became “Restless Dreams” which was shown at this year’s festival.

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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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