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Sarajevo: True Stories Market hunting storytellers to revisit Yugoslav wars

New section of Sarajevo’s Industry Days presents the most cinematic true stories from the Balkan wars to film and TV professionals

One of the many new elements in Sarajevo Film Festival’s Industry Days this year is the True Stories Market. It is a part of the festival’s Dealing With The Past project, aimed at increasing dialogue, promoting peace through raising awareness, and confronting all the parties involved with the facts of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

It has been 21 years since the war in Bosnia ended, and only recently film-makers from the region have started making films that question and confront war crimes and deeply rooted, painful issues of their own countries.

The festival programme includes two of these films: Serbian director Ognjen Glavonić’s Berlinale Forum title Depth Two [pictured], a documentary examining murders of Albanian civilians in the Kosovo war; and Croatian film-maker Irena Škorić’s Unwanted Heritage, which receives its world premiere in Sarajevo’s documentary competition and tackles the issue of monuments from the communist era in Croatia that have been destroyed since the country’s independence.

In addition, the festival will screen Lars Kraume’s 2015 Toronto entry The People Vs. Fritz Bauer, a historical thriller about the Attorney General who brought Adolph Eichmann to trial in Israel.

The True Stories Market will present stories from archives of key organisations that document the Yugoslav wars of the 1990’s and presents them to film and TV professionals, at an event on Wednesday [17].

Jovan Marjanović, Sarajevo’s head of industry, said: “For this programme, we will work with partner organisations that for years have been documenting the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s - established and highly respected NGOs and organisations in the region like Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Centre for Civic Education.”

These organisations selected about 60 important stories, and then a pre-selection jury chose six, which will be presented to the audience at the True Stories Market event.

It will be followed by one-on-one meetings where interested film-makers can meet the organisations and learn more about these cases and the possibility of moving forward with a film project.

“The research and material available from these organisations is obviously huge, and the number of stories told in the form of film is to date far too small,” said Marjanović.

“We want to help change that and our aim is to create an “open source” where these organisations and film-makers connect, so that the research, archives and expertise can be used by film-makers, who in their turn will take them to the larger audiences that these important stories deserve.”

The six stories tackling issues from the wars come from Montenegro’s Centre for Civic Education (CCE), about the Concentration Camp Morinj; Croatia’s Documenta - Center for Dealing with the Past, about Milena Perčin, a Croat nurse who was protected by Serbian neighbours when Operation Storm took place; Serbian branch of the German Forum Civil Peace Service, about SFX Brezovica, a snowboarding club uniting Serbian and Kosovan athletes; and Republika Srpska’s affiliation of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, about a former concentration camp inmate who fights nationalism within himself.

Three more stories come from the Bosnian section of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN BiH): Baljevine, a village where Serbs and Bosniaks protected each other during the conflict; Person A., Person H. and Person J. F., about three war rape victims; and Ramiz Nukić, a Bosniak who spent years walking through the woods in search of the bones of people killed during the war.

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