Children of Sarajevo


Aida Begić’s powerful, pertinent drama depicts a generation growing up in a country knowing nothing of stability.

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.

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  • Director-Producer-Screenwriter Aida Begić
  • With Marija Pikić, Ismir Gagula, Nikola Đuričko
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina-France-Germany-Turkey 2012
  • 90 mins
  • Sales Pyramide International

Rahima (Marija Pikić) is a young woman in her early twenties who lost her parents during the Bosnian conflict. There are hints that she has come through a wayward adolescence, but has found solace renewing her faith in Islam. She becomes determined to set an example for her 14-year-old brother Nedim (Ismir Gagula) and ensure that he doesn’t make the same mistakes she did. Yet the long hours Rahima spends working in a restaurant kitchen mean she can’t constantly monitor what Nedim is up getting up to. When she’s called to Nedim’s school to discover he is being targeted for bullying by the spoilt son of a local politician, Rahima begins to uncover alarming secrets Nedim is keeping. Aida Begić’s powerful, pertinent drama depicts a generation growing up in a country knowing nothing of stability, struggling to recover from the horrors of recent wars only to suffer during the global economic meltdown.
Michael Hayden

Director statement

Snow, my first feature film, was a story about a group of women whose male family members had been killed in war-time massacres in eastern Bosnia. It followed their struggle to survive in 1997, the immediate post-war period. While working on Snow, we talked a lot about something we called ‘The Bosnian dream’. At that time, we had a dream and we believed in the reconstruction of our society. When I was contemplating what my second feature film could be about, I was trying to find out what kind of a society we live in today, what has changed since the time we worked on Snow. I realised that we do not believe in the reconstruction of our society anymore and that we had replaced dreams with memories. I noticed that when my friends and I start talking about the war, we suddenly become passionate and lively. I started to wonder if the war time was not the only period of our life when we had truly lived. I wonder if our life during the war was really better than our life today or does it just feel that way because the war is something that we had left behind? Were people really more human in the most difficult period in the history of our city or it just felt that way because we were all equally miserable? And what about those of us who have no recollection of what my generation refers to as ‘normal (pre-war) life’? Transition is the state of transformation. It implies change, metamorphosis and does not necessarily have a negative connotation. However, in Bosnia, transition has lasted for 16 years already. For 16 years we have been unable to overcome the phase of transition from one state to another. The result of this is a prevailing sense of helplessness and inability to think about and plan for the future. Nearly two decades after the war, we live in an endless ‘today’ and are afraid to look into a ‘tomorrow’. As in most other countries with a similar destiny, transition is proving to be a perfect breeding ground for injustice, corruption, violence and many other negative social phenomena. People who used to be at the bottom of the social ladder have become rich overnight and have reached the positions of power, while others who refused to accept the new dirty ‘rules of the game’ have replaced them at the bottom. [...] Rahima’s work colleagues behave as a dysfunctional family, united on account of each being different in some way from the socially prescribed norm. Rahima wears a headscarf and this automatically qualifies her for social marginality because the prejudice about women who practice hijab is equally strong in Sarajevo as elsewhere in the world. But although she wears a headscarf, Rahima is not much different from other girls of her age – at home, she listens to the same music as her peers, she loves, hates, makes mistakes and lives her life just like other ‘normal’ girls do. Still, because of her religious convictions she is perceived as ‘the other’, as ‘different’ and is therefore discriminated against. The restaurant chef, Davor, is a member of the minority Croat population and is also a homosexual. Davor’s ethnic identity and his sexual orientation earn him a place on the list of the ‘unaccepted’. Waiter Dino is a junkie, restaurant manager Vedrana is cruel because her husband embraced the radical teaching of Islam known as Wahhabisam and has taken their children away from her… There is an interesting Sufi tale about two birds – a raven and a pigeon – who become best friends. When everyone starts to wonder what the two birds that are so different from one another might have in common, they notice that each is missing a leg. Just like the two birds, the restaurant employees are united by their shared pain and shortcomings.
Aida Begić

Director biography

Born in Sarajevo in 1976, she graduated in directing at the Sarajevo Academy of Performing Arts in 2000. Her graduation film First Death Experience was presented at the Cinéfondation Official Selection of the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and won numerous awards worldwide. In 2003 she wrote and directed her second short North Went Mad. Her debut feature film Snow won the Grand Prix at Critics’ Week in Cannes in 2008. She now teaches directing at the Sarajevo Academy of Performing Arts, has directed numerous documentaries, commercials, videos and promo films, and in 2009 founded the independent production company Film House. Children of Sarajevo is her second feature and played at Cannes this year in the Un Certain Regard section.

Filmography (selected)

2000 Prvo smrtno iskustvo (First Death Experience) [s]
2003 Sjever je Poludio (North Went Mad) [s]
2008 Snijeg (Snow)
2010 Djeca (Children) [doc s]
2011 Unutma beni Istanbul (Do Not Forget Me, Istanbul) [ep Otel(o) only]
2012 Djeca (Children of Sarajevo)

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