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An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker

Epizoda u zivotu beraca zeljeza

Danis Tanović’s drama on the plight of a Bosnian Roma family needing urgent medical care reconstructs the actors’ real experiences to shocking effect.


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  • Director-Screenwriter Danis Tanović
  • Producers Amra Bakšić, Čamo, Čedomir Kolar
  • With Senada Alimanović, Nazif Mujić, Sandra Mujić, Semsa Mujić
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina-France-Slovenia 2013
  • in Bosnian with English subtitles
  • 74 mins
  • UK distribution New Wave Films

Winner of two major prizes at this year’s Berlinale, this is no less powerful than Tanović’s acclaimed (if very different) No Man’s Land. Shot in a raw, documentary style, it concerns a Roma family living in a remote Bosnian village: Nazif, who gathers and sells scrap metal for a pittance, his wife Senada and their two daughters. When Senada complains of cramps, they drive to a clinic in the nearest city, only to be told she’s miscarried and urgently needs an operation, otherwise she’ll die. But Senada has no medical insurance and the doctors are demanding too much money. Tanović’s chronicling of the family’s plight is both gripping and wholly authentic – unsurprising, perhaps, since his cast are re-enacting a terrible train of events they themselves suffered in reality. A shocking, admirably unsentimental indictment of how the poor – and, specifically, the Roma – are treated in today’s Europe.

Geoff Andrew

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