The Sarajevo Film Festival has for years showcased films in a high-profile section entitled Dealing with the Past. Processing the violence and destruction that led to and then followed the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991 is central to virtually any major artistic, cultural, or historical project in Sarajevo, and the SFF is no exception.
We joined forces with the Sarajevo Film Festival to extend the Dealing with the Past project beyond the borders of the festival, connecting films that grapple intensely and movingly with this subject with new online audiences. The selection addresses so many varied ways of processing the past, both inside Yugoslavia and outside it.
That might mean Cinema Komunisto, a film that charts the rise and fall of Yugoslavia’s film industry in meticulous detail, or Chris the Swiss, the acclaimed animated documentary made by the cousin of a Swiss war reporter assassinated in Croatia in 1992. In Bojina Panayotova’s Berlinale-debuting I See Red People, the director reaches courageously into her own family’s murky past as potential police collaborators in Communist Bulgaria, unflinching in her pursuit of buried truths. Likewise Born in Evin is an investigation into a unique place and time, one intermingled with the complex binds of family: the Iranian prison where the director was born.
Merry Christmas Yiwu by the Serbian Mladen Kovacevic, turning to other legacies of the Communist project, is the exception: a film where we encounter a present and a likely future in which socialism has lost all meaning, where workers in a Chinese factory put together Christmas decorations for the world, inventing an illusion. How else can we anticipate and decipher the pathways to the future shape of the world without first figuring out the contours of our own pasts, whether collective or shared?
This year the Sarajevo Film Festival is taking place from August 13-20.
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