The 18th Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival (BHFF), running from Wednesday, April 20th through Sunday, April 24th in-person at the SVA Theatre in New York City and online, announced the lineup of 10 films with an additional 4 films being shown online.
This year’s film selection showcases the breadth of artistic achievements of the filmmakers from Bosnia-Herzegovina, the region, and beyond. The themes covered by this year’s selected films range from tender and universally relatable family stories, environmental themes that are a pressing issue both locally and globally, fascinating stories about unique individuals, as well as films that tackle war trauma and loss. The festival will also feature a special screening of Jasmila Žbanić’s award-winning and globally acclaimed Quo Vadis, Aida?.
“As programmers of BHFF, we are delighted that the festival is returning to an in-person format. We have missed seeing our audience and guests in the movie theater and sharing the unique spirit of the festival. This year’s slate yet again shows that Bosnian cinema is as vibrant as ever. Moreover, the films in the program that deal with war experiences and war trauma are a poignant reminder that it is our collective moral duty to stand in solidarity with the victims of war anywhere, always” said BHFF programming co-directors Dijana Jelača and Amir Husak.
The eighteenth annual BHFF will consist of four narrative feature films, three narrative shorts, and four documentary films. Ten films selected to screen at the 18th annual BHFF are eligible to win the BHFF Jury Awards for Best Documentary Film, Best Short or Animated Narrative Film, Best Feature Narrative Film, Best Acting Performance, and the Jury Special Mention, as well as the BHFF Audience Award for Best Picture.
The films screening at the eighteenth annual BHFF are:
Quo Vadis, Aida?
Jasmila Žbanić | 101 min*
Bosnia, July 1995. Aida is a translator for the UN in the small town of Srebrenica. When the Serbian army takes over the town, her family is among the thousands of citizens looking for shelter in the UN camp. As an insider to the negotiations Aida has access to crucial information that she needs to interpret. What is at the horizon for her family and people—rescue or death? Which move should she take?
A Not So Friendly Neighborhood Affair
Danis Tanović | 90 min
A totally harmless, friendly gesture causes the complete disintegration of the neighbors’ business and private life, engulfing not only Izo and Enis but the whole city. Where can one eat the best kebabs in Sarajevo?
Pjer Žalica | 92 min
Members of a large family strewn around the former Yugoslavia gather around the death bed of their elderly matriarch. Despite the doctor’s prediction of her imminent death, grandma hangs on while the family feuds and intrigues over the inheritance, blind to the terrifying signs of an approaching war in Sarajevo.
The White Fortress
Igor Drljaca | 90 min
Faruk, a teenager from Sarajevo, tries to prove himself to a local mobster. He is looking for a teenage girl who would work for him, but everything changes when he meets Mona – and falls in love with her. This could be a fairy tale – boy meets girl – but it is also the beginning of the nightmare for Faruk and Mona.
What’s This Country Called Now?
Joseph Pierson | 37 min**
A Bosnian woman, working as a reporter during the Siege of Sarajevo, interviews a living witness to the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914, and his wisdom gives her a deeper understanding of the Bosnian War, and her role in it.
Sea by the River and River by the Sea
Sovran Nrecaj | 28 min
Lume as a wife and mother, is left alone in two different periods, for different existential reasons. She hates the war, but she is forced to fight.
Bafl Sarhang, Ismar Vejzović | 19 min**
An idealistic man turned ham radio operator is trapped in a besieged town. He finds refuge in an improvised radio station where he reports on the war and helps his fellow citizens connect with their loved ones outside the town. His struggle for survival leads him through the war-torn town where danger lurks from all sides.
Guillermo Carreras-Candi, Kumjana Novakova | 72 min
A space in silence, where past has captured present. Taking over, layer by layer, collective pain enters the landscape, the space, the city. Eventually, it enters us. Srebrenica becomes a reality of today, and our own reality.
Matthew Somerville | 71 min
Mira Furlan plays the ethereal voice of Sava. Once the longest river in Yugoslavia she converses with her people who share memories, dreams and visions of the future on a 990km odyssey downstream. Sava is a witness to human history; a conduit between East and West, the dividing line of great empires and a common thread between nations. Today she flows along borders through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. As her final words ring out, Sava sings.
Almir Zoletić | 27 min**
Mevlo Alic is a shepherd from a small village Vozuca in Bosnia and Herzegovina left to live alone in an old house after his parents’ death. In order to earn enough money for a decent living, he breeds and sells his sheep to nearby customers. With time, sheep breeding becomes less of a job and a source of income and becomes more of a loving family environment that has provided him with true life happiness and a sense of belonging.
Chris Leslie | 7 min**
An empty city. A population in hiding. An invisible enemy who surrounds you. Everywhere is the front line. A testimony of fear, survival, hope.
ONLINE ONLY FILMS
Lukas Maier | 95 min
Sofija, an aspiring photographer, works in a youth hostel in Sarajevo. Overworked and unfulfilled in her love life, she tries to reconcile her art with the demands of everyday life. She also has to liquidate the possessions of her recently deceased father. The discovery of an old camera filled with forgotten images will bring back a maelstrom of memories and torments. Wandering through the city, Sofija goes through a waking nightmare where chimeras and photographic realism merge.
Between Mountains and Wars
Natali Khalili Tari, Qali Nur | 51 min
In Sarajevo, a city where Sephardic Jews sought refuge over 400 years ago, the Jewish community lives in coexistence alongside their Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox Christian neighbors. The film profiles three Sephardi-Bosnian women who not only lived through the war of the 1990s in Bosnia but also the Holocaust. The women’s stories each present hope in times of utter tragedy and horror.
Passages between 1980-2021
Damir Avdagić | 32 min
The protagonists are five people who came to Norway as child refugees in the 1990s. They perform testimonies from the period 1980–95 that chronologically trace the development of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and which stem from members of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation. During the presentation, the participants share their experiences regarding national, political and social affiliation.
Amir Karagić | 30 min
A timid Amsterdam coffee shop owner is forced to face the truth about who he thinks he is, when his reckless business partner and girlfriend’s abusive ex backs him into a corner.