Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Bosnian hip-hop artist Adnana “Frenkie“ Hamidovic (left) and the director of the film Ada Sokolovic. (Photo: Maja Nikolic)
People waiting to get into the cinema before the premiere. (Photo: Maja Nikolic)
Audience at the Kaleidoskop cinema. (Photo: Maja Nikolic)
Young members of the audience. (Photo: Maja Nikolic)
Members of the audience. (Photo: Maja Nikolic)
(r to l) Film director Ada Sokolovic, Bosnian hip-hop singer Adnan “Frenkie“ Hamidovic and Serbian peace activist Milan Colic addressing the audience in Tuzla. (Photo: Maja Nikolic)
Milan Colic, one of the protagonists of the film Border. (Photo: Maja Nikolic)
Panelists taking part in a round-table discussion after the premiere of an IWPR documentary in Tuzla said it carried a crucial message of reconciliation.
IWPR held a public screening of the film Border in the Kaleidoskop cinema in Tuzla on April 23, five days before the film was due to be aired on national television channel BHRT.
More than 200 people attended the screening, mostly young people from Bosnia’s two administrative entities, the Federation and Republika Srpska (RS). Tuzla’s mayor Jasmin Imamovic and other officials from the northern Bosnian town were also present.
The 30-minute documentary features Adnan “Frenkie” Hamidovic, a hip-hop artist from the Bosnian town of Bijeljina who uses his songs to tackle thorny issues of reconciliation, and Milan Colic, a peace activist from Serbia.
The pair explore their concerns about the nationalism that still exists among young people in the region, two decades after the war.
A shorter version of this film was posted on YouTube last year and has had more than 47,000 views so far.
The film was inspired by A Letter, a ten-minute documentary also featuring the two men which IWPR made last year.
The round table was attended by Hamidovic and Colic as well as by the film’s director Ada Sokolovic, Bosnian film director and journalist Jasmin Durakovic, and university professor Srdjan Vukadinovic.
Hamidovic told the audience that in addition to building a career as a musician, he had been actively involved for some years with a number of NGOs working towards peace and reconciliation in the region.
Commenting on the hundreds of responses posted on his Facebook page by young Bosnians after seeing A Letter, Hamidovic said, “I saw many comments from young people from Trebinje [in RS] who wrote, ‘Come to Trebinje, no one will harm you, the coffee is on me.’ I found such comments really cool and they made me very happy. I’ve realised that there are young people who are willing to talk about what happened in the past.”
Hamidovic added that “it’s a big success when an artist triggers positive reactions and makes people think. We have to fight negative trends and divisions in our country.”
Sokolovic explained to the audience what she had tried to achieve with this film.
“When the war broke out in Bosnia in 1992, I was only two years old, and I spent the whole war here,” she said. “Now I’m 24 and I know for sure that I want to stay in this country and do something good. With this documentary, I want to inspire young Bosnians to fight against all divisions.”
Tuzla professor Vukadinovic said that everyone should see this film.
“We really need to congratulate Frenkie and Milan who have had the strength to openly address the problems we are all facing, such as ethnic divisions and how to overcome them,” he said. “They have showed in this documentary what really matters in life and what an individual can do to make a positive change.”
“This film carries a message of reconciliation which is crucial for Bosnia,” he added.
Colic said he was convinced that young Bosnians were very aware of what had happened in their country and the wider region during the wars of the early 1990s, and that they wanted to form their own opinions about this through dialogue with members of all ethnic groups.
“We have to enable young people to express their opinions about these important issues. We should not try to change their opinions; we should listen to what they have to say,” Colic said.
He added that there was a widespread belief that people in Serbia had not been much affected by the Balkan conflict, simply because there was no war in that country.
“But we have 800,000 war veterans,” Colic said. “A quarter of all Serbian families have a war veteran. Young people from Serbia have also grown up with stories about the recent wars and these narratives are a part of their identity. That is why we should listen to what they have to say.”
Durakovic emphasised that dialogue among members of different ethnic groups was crucial for the future of Bosnia.
“IWPR’s film has shown that lack of communication is a serious problem in our community,” he said. “In the past 20 years, we haven’t produced any film – either a documentary or a feature – that attempted to cross over the border between [Bosnian state] entities and encourage dialogue.”
He continued, “It’s good to see that this film features the opinions of young people who weren’t even born when there was a war in this country,” he noted. “The Bosnian public doesn’t know anything about their [young people’s] views on the war and the way they perceive events that took place 20 years ago. This film may change that.”
Maja Nikolic is an RFE and IWPR reporter in Tuzla.
The documentary Border is part of the Ordinary People series produced by IWPR and Mebius film, and supported by the Norwegian embassy in Sarajevo. The film was broadcast on Bosnia’s national television channel BHRT on April 28 and can be seen here.
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