Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, UK, Germany, Slovenia, Belgium

Synopsis

Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1991: The communists have fallen from power and Divko Buntic returns to the small town where he grew up to reclaim his family home. After a 20-year exile in Germany, Divko arrives in his flashy red Mercedes with sexy young girlfriend Azra, lucky black cat Bonny and a pocketful of Deutschmarks. Divko uses his money and connections to forcefully evict estranged wife Ludja, but he tries to reunite with 20-year-old son Martin. When Divko's beloved cat Bonny disappears, the whole town joins in a frantic search to get the cash reward. The daily hunt for the missing cat strains Divko's fragile relationship with Azra and opens up an unexpected but strong attraction between Azra and Martin. Busy fretting over everyday concerns, most of the townsfolk seem to disregard the rumbling political unrest: Croatia has seceded, all Yugoslavs are being forced to take sides, and the Serbs begin bombing Dubrovnik. Although their area is on high alert, many still can't imagine anyone or anything could divide Bosnia and Herzegovina…

Director's Statement

BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER Much of my career in filmmaking has been about war and its consequences. While in the army, I filmed it for real, then I made documentaries about war, and those experiences culminated with NO MAN'S LAND, my first feature film. Recently, I made TRIAGE,, a feature that deals with the aftermath of war. The story of CIRKUS COLUMBIA actually stops when the war starts. In some way for me, these films make a sort of personal trilogy - before, during and post war. NO MAN'S LAND takes place during the conflict. TRIAGE, after, and CIRKUS COLUMBIA, before. TRYING TO REMEMBER For a long time, the period before the war belonged to a life I couldn't remember. There was this gap in my mind when I tried to think of the time in my life before the war. It was as if the war overshadowed everything that existed previous to it. I felt as if that time was a lost part of my life. Then, suddenly, a few years ago, for no particular reason I began to remember. Sometimes it would be a smell, sometimes the face of a person I used to know, sometimes a scene of no particular importance. I tried to recapture those moments, connect them to some other memory, but they went away as quickly as they came, leaving me with a feeling of loneliness and frustration. HELPING WAR CHILDREN TO REMEMBER Reading the book "Cirkus Columbia" gave me a fast ride back to that period before the war. It's in no way similar to my own experience, but there is something about that book that touches every Bosnian and Herzegovinian. The book tells stories of people who naively believed that war was not possible here, of neighbours who help each other in spite of mortal danger, of lost youth and new beginnings, of hate that for a while seemed to cover everything and, of course, of love that knows no borders. I hope that adapting these stories to the screen will help other war children to remember. DEPARTURE POINT FOR DISCUSSION My movies tend to be anti-war, anti-violence, anti-nationalist, but I don't know if they have any specific single message. It's more complex than that. But it does please me when the ideas and emotions of my movies stick with the audience and they continue to think about them long after seeing them. I believe that movies should be a departure point for discussion. But I don't try to send out set messages. I just show the world in the way that I see it. THE OTHER SIDE I was happy to work in my language again. HELL was in French and TRIAGE, in English. I guess I could probably make a movie in any language, but it was great to go back to my own... The area of Herzegovina where we shot is very beautiful. I was very happy to re-discover the landscape, the forests, the cold rivers. It was a pleasure to be there again, not only for the look of the film, but also to be with the people. This part of the world has a very out-of-time feeling... Unfortunately, so much has changed - irreversibly. I sometimes feel that in 1992, when communism fell, we stood on the edge of a wide abyss. The rest of the world watched silently on the other side. We were forced to jump, but we did not make it to the other side. And we are still falling.
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Danis Tanović

Written by: Danis Tanović, Ivica Dikic

Produced by: Mirsad Purivatra, Cedomar Kolar, Amra Bakšić Čamo, Marc Bachet

Cinematography: Walther Vanden Ende

Editing: Petar Markovic

Production Design: Dusan Milavec, Sanda Popovac

Cast: Miki Manojlovic, Mira Furlan, Boris Ler, Jelena Stupljanin, Milan Strljic

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2011