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New Film Affirms Bosnia ’s Missing Are Not Forgotten

2. August 2011.00:00
A new film by Bosnian Oscar-winning film director Danis Tanovic personalises the ongoing search for the 10,000 victims of the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are still missing.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

“Baggage” which premiered on the last day of the Sarajevo Film Festival, serves as a haunting reminder that although almost sixteen years have passed since the war that claimed over 100,000 lives, thousands of Bosnians are still seeking the closure that comes from burying their loved ones.

“These people cannot and do not want to admit [the loss], and it is their daily nightmare,” Tanovic told reporters who watched the film in a private press screening on Thursday.
Boris Ler plays Amir, a Bosniak who returns to BiH from Sweden because authorities thought they had finally identified his parents. But when he arrives he finds out that the sack of bones they thought were his mother and father actually belonged to someone else.

Amir then returns to his village in Republika Srpska, and Dusan, a childhood friend recognises him and tells him who call tell him where to find his parents, for a price.

Tanovic told journalits it was important for him to make the film because finding bodies of the victims is the first step in fostering reconciliation among people who were once neighbors.

“Searching for the victims is one of the key problems in Bosnia today for restoring trust,” he stressed. “Without achieving that, we simply cannot start a new era, since the pain of people who do not manage to find their relatives is the most horrible aftermath of the war.”

“Baggage” showcases the process of rebuilding trust in the relationship between Amir and Dusan. Dusan recognises his friend standing the ruins of his former home and reluctantly tells a skeptical Amir that a man named Miladin knows where the bodies of his parents are. Dusan’s parents are nervous about him helping Amir, revealing deep-seeded mistrust and fear of ‘the other’ on both sides. Miladin’s cold and defensive air belies fear.

Tanovic masterfully weaves the metaphor of “Baggage” throughout the film as a symbol of all who struggle to overcome the past. Each character in the film is saddled with the weight of emotional and psychological baggage.

In Amir’s tiny hometown, some Serbs grapple with the knowledge of the grave site, afraid to announce its location for fear of retaliation or punishment, and uncomfortable with acknowledging the atrocities that occurred so close to their homes.
Amir has been burdened for sixteen years with the search for closure.

All are troubled by a lack of trust.

Tanovic said he was inspired to make the film after speaking to people who are still searching for their loved ones.
“Actually the story is composed of three real stories that I was told. Horrible as they each are, they just united in my mind to arrive at the one that is being told.”

The director also said that although mass graves are often in the news, he wanted to make a film because the medium is more emotional.

Tanovic’s debut film “No Man’s Land” won an Oscar for best foreign language film in 2002. The black comedy deals with the absurdity of war. During the 1992-1995 war, Tanovic shot over 300 hours of footage while following the Bosnian Army.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie and actor Brad Pitt were among attendees at the screening, showing their belief in the importance of restoring trust by finding the missing. Jolie’s directorial debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” about the war, will premiere this fall.

This post is also available in: Bosnian