Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Children of Sarajevo (2012)

Children of Sarajevo • Djeca (2012)
Children of Sarajevo • Djeca (2012)
Genre: Drama
Director: Aida Begić
Starring: Marija Pikić, Ismir Gagula, Bojan Novojec, Sanela Pepeljak, Vedran Đekić, Mario Knezović
Language: Bosnian
Duration: 90 min.
Rating: 7.9
The story of two orphaned siblings in post war Sarajevo. Older sister Rahima, fiercely struggles to maintain her independence and keep her younger delinquent brother Nedim, on the right path.
Children of Sarajevo is a film written, produced, and directed by Aida Begić. It is her second feature film, her debut Snow won the Critics Week Grand Prix at Cannes in 2008. This premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where it was given the Special Distinction Award. It has also been selected as Bosnia and Herzegovina's entry to the 85th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

It's a tale of struggle and survival set in present day Sarajevo, a city still terribly scarred from the war. Centered on two orphans, Rahima (Marija Pikić), in her early twenties, who lives with and looks after her younger brother Nedim (Ismir Gagula), a troubled and difficult teen who is starting to hang out with the wrong people and is dangerously close to being expelled from school. To support them, she works in the kitchen of a fancy restaurant run by and frequented by shady powerful people.

Children of Sarajevo • Djeca (2012)

Throughout the film there are hints that the fiercely independent Rahima, who has recently found faith and now wears a hijab—a decision presented here not as a symbol of oppression but of defiance—was herself a well known troublemaker in her younger days. She's a fascinating character brought to life by a remarkably commanding performance from young actress Marija Pikić, who is on screen for almost the entire running time.

The film's atmosphere is extremely tense, presented with a series of several minute long takes from a shoulder mounted camera that continuously tracks Rahima from behind as she goes about her day. It's an effect and perspective reminiscent of the Dardenne's style, but at times far more hectic, almost like the video games that Nedim is often shown playing. Much respect to cinematographer Erol Zubčević, for what must have been a physically demanding shoot, running up and down stairs, streets, and corridors, and deftly maneuvering in cramped quarters for long periods of time.

Children of Sarajevo • Djeca (2012)

Weaved into the main story are various documentary clips and home movies from the war, not really gruesome but still absolutely heartbreaking footage that gives us a glimpse of the horrific times that an entire generation of children had to endure. Nedim was too young to remember anything, but it's clear that the past is something that has deeply affected Rahima, who willfully works long hours, keeping herself busy and exhausted so she doesn't have time to think about old memories.

Begić also uses a symphony of everyday sounds to fantastic effect. Rumbling pipes, clanging pots, exploding fireworks, and all sorts of other random loud noises that could easily be mistaken for the sounds of war accompany Rahima on a daily basis and add to the pic's uneasy feeling.

It's a very strong effort, that even has some slight touches of humor, and a glimmer of hope at one point, however overall I think most will find the story too bleak, and there's too much left unresolved at the end for it to get enough Academy votes to stand a chance.
Bonjour Tristesse
Children of Sarajevo • Djeca (2012)


FrontRoomCinema said...

Sounds very chirpy!!

Mettel Ray said...

So so.. going through the Oscars. I wonder if you make to to an ESTONIAN movie!! Yes, we have one this year. Haven't seen it but the trailer actually looked promising. Called: Mushrooming and the actual mushroom picking not the drug version. Waiting for your review now. Still waiting. Waiting a bit more.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Heheh... You might be waiting a long time. It screened at TIFF but not here unfortunately. Hopefully I do get a chance to see it before next February.

d_4 said...

That's too bad. It looks like it's watchable, but there's no real reason to..

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