Given a special out-of-competition screening at Cannes, ‘Bridges of Sarajevo’ is a collective documentary of 13 shorts by European directors, impressions of the city from 1914 to the present day.
A former journalist with the French newspaper Le Monde, Jean-Michel Frodon, is the project’s artistic director.
“The only limits we imposed on anyone were, ‘keep your contribution to around six to eight minutes’, and ‘everyone gets the same budget’. Beyond that they had complete freedom to pitch any idea about Sarajevo in the 20th century,” explained Frodon.
Romania’s Cristi Puiu and Ukraine’s Sergey Loznitsa, along with Swiss giant Jean Luc-Godard’s contributions caught euronews’ eye in particular, as did one of the emerging talents the film was happy to include alongside the established names, Bosnia’s Aida Begic. Sarajevo is a city she knows intimately.
“Sarajevo is always a kind of paradigm. I think Sarajevo is kind of a mirror of Europe. Europe is reflecting all the best and worst things in Sarajevo in a way. So, it’s like a crossover of different cultures, different religions, and it’s very specific, with a very unique mentality, because we are all built from… we have some East, some West, some communism heritage… so, we are very complex in that sense, and that’s why we are kind of the heart of Europe,” she said.
One hundred years of any city’s life is material enough, yet several directors have, perhaps unsurprisingly, chosen to look at the war-torn 1990s and the siege of the city.
“The war made a huge impression on me. I was at film school at the time and there was a war on Switzerland’s doorstep! A war near our homes. There I was, making all these films with pictures and photos coming from there, those unforgettable photos of snipers… We all carry images of that war in our heads,” said Ursula Meier.
Serbia’s Vladimir Perisic has mashed up the century’s trigger event, the killing of Franz-Ferdinand, with today’s anarchist youths, nostalgic for the former Yugoslavia.
“I think there’s a return of this idea of a Yugoslavia in many ways close to Bolivarism in South America. The passage from socialism to capitalism in the Balkans is a very violent experience. In Bosnia alone unemployment is 28 percent,” he told euronews.
Adding his voice to the film’s polyphonic platform is renowned Belgian cartoonist François Schuiten, whose animations bridge each short.
The film starts rolling out in Europe on June 28, the 100th anniversary of the event called “the shot that started World War One”.