Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Film Success for IWPR Trainee

Bosnian reporter helped produce award-winning feature on Roma.
By IWPR staff
  • Poster for the film An Episode in the Life of an Iron-Picker. (Poster design by Fabrika, Sarajevo)
    Poster for the film An Episode in the Life of an Iron-Picker. (Poster design by Fabrika, Sarajevo)

A young IWPR-trained reporter from Sarajevo, Mirza Ajnadzic, was part of a team whose film won a prestigious Silver Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival last week.

"An Episode in the Life of an Iron-Picker", which tells the story of a Roma man struggling to fund an emergency operation for his pregnant wife, was produced on a budget of only 17,000 euro.

The film was produced by the Sarajevo Center for Contemporary Arts, SCCA Proba, IWPR’s partner in the Tales of Transition project, launched in 2011. The project seeks to give young Bosnian reporters – working and aspiring – a solid grounding in transitional justice and human rights, and to equip them with the skills to report objectively on these issues. (See Bosnia: Future Journalists Tackle Transitional Justice.)

Ajnadzic, who was one of the reporters trained by IWPR and SCCA Proba during the first phase of Tales of Transition, undertook the research for the Bosnian film, in which ordinary people were the actors in a true-life tale.

Trailer: An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker

Nazif Mujic, a Roma who plays himself in this film – the lowest-budget production ever to win recognition at the Berlin festival – won an award for best actor.

Ajnadzic told IWPR he was thrilled when he heard the film had won an award at one of the most important European film festivals.

At the same time, he expressed concern about the fate of the Roma couple featured in this film.

“I am proud and sad at the same time," said Ajnadzic, "because I know that Nazif and Senada, the main protagonists of this film, will have to go back to their everyday life and all its hardships as soon as all the euphoria about the awards dies down. I am afraid that they will soon be forgotten.”

The film was directed by Oscar-winning Bosnian director Danis Tanovic, who, according to the Berlin festival’s website, wove “these dramatic events, his protagonists’ economic hardship and fear of death, into a wintery tale. The fact that the non-professional cast are re-enacting an episode from their own lives contributes greatly to the film’s sense of authenticity and social realism. At the same time, the film demonstrates one Roma family’s extraordinary courage and unerring will to survive".

Amra Baksic, the director of SCCA Proba, said she hoped the film would “help raise awareness of the situation Roma people in Bosnia live in”.

“I hope they will not be so invisible for the whole society any more,” she added.

The film will have its Bosnian premiere at the Sarajevo Film Festival in August this year.

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