Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, France, Norway, Qatar
When a few years ago, Bosnia and Herzegovina was shaken by a considerable scandal, where allegedly a group of seven 13-year-old girls from the same class became pregnant during a school trip, the reactions were that of outrage and disbelief. Not merely were the girls judged, accused, and shamed by national media and via digital platforms, but the news about the precocious Bosnian girls reached even the international press. The latter, beating the drum of the local pseudo-moral dogmatic preachers, turned the story into a proper mass hysteria. The truth about what happened really didn’t matter anymore, and that interested me; but what held my attention even more, was the personal truth of these young girls. How are they managing their budding sexuality and what truly motivates their actions and desires in nowadays society? Especially in one so clearly defunct as the Bosnian one.
Remotely inspired by this real-life event, Excursion is a film that wants to address this question by subverting the narrative above, as we get to see the point of view of the main character to talk about society: its norms, values, and the perpetual violence it operates on its individuals. Iman’s individual story thus serves as a vehicle to reflect the collective around her - the society she lives in.
Iman is a young girl like any other her age: she starts to experience desire and the desire to be desired; for the first time, she sees girls, boys, men and women. As she becomes aware of the society around her behaving in a certain way, playing by certain rules and morals, she tries to figure out her place in all that. Yet, she is also unlike any other girl: she is audacious, assertive, resourceful, absolutely unwilling to be a victim, while, at the same time, delusional, naïve, and overtly sensitive. When she falls for Damir, she believes that, through this mixture of infatuation, raging hormones and young love, she will finally find her place in society, and therein channel her own womanhood. By way of being desired, she will gain this sense of accomplishment and validation.
While all adolescents are already naturally confused by their age, living simultaneously as both children and adults, the ones growing up in Bosnia and Herzegovina are also falling victims to another divide. On one side, we have the worst outcome of the capitalist transition in the Balkans, where their emerging sexuality is exploited and violated; on the other, the newfound conservative dogma disguised as religion, which, in the absence of other ethical and moral values in the country, has thrived – and is now ready to punish and humiliate that same youth.
The theme of duality and division returns home by stating the obvious: sexuality is a private matter, but then, inevitably, it becomes a public one.
As a woman in her mid-thirties only now untangling the knots of her own sexual upbringing, as a Bosnian woman observing its society and especially its youth today, and lastly, quite simply as a feminist – I feel an urge and an obligation to make this film.
DRAMATIC AND VISUAL APPROACH
The approach to the theme imposes the dramatic register of the film, undoubtedly embedded in elements of realism. We are watching a slice of life, where no aspect of it, no action, however big or small, will be without consequences. This realism, however, will not shy away from the absurd when needed, in a blunt and matter of fact way, for the sake of uncovering the hypocrisy of society.
Iman and the remaining adolescent characters will all be played by non-professional actors and will, likewise, be encouraged to behave in their natural and habitual way, rather than perform or act. They will also be invited to intervene on the language and dialogue contributing to the authentic sound of the film, bringing it as close to their reality as possible. The cast will be complemented by professional actors, playing the adult roles, giving the ensemble balance and stability. Finding the right Iman will be the single most challenging element in the process, and, equally, the most important one.
Unlike my previous films, EXCURSION will evolve in its visual style. The camera will be on the shoulder as before, but more stable, giving the actors a frame to play in, rather than necessarily following their every movement. This will result in a particular composition that reflects the themes and emotions of the film: the tension, duality, asymmetry and layers of the world the characters live in.
The photography will privilege natural, diegetic lighting where possible, making the most out of the available and practical lighting on location, filming the faces, bodies and city in a very raw and unpolished way.
The shooting is planned for early spring, with the aim of contrasting Sarajevo’s greyness and smog, in all its monochrome glory, with the bursts of light and color coming from the characters’ costumes, the adorned locations and the city.
The developed aesthetics will be crowned by a very dense and dirty soundscape typical for the urban, concrete-heavy neighbourhood where the characters live, and by diegetic local hip-hop music of this new generation, who, with their beats and lyrics, speak about and to, the Bosnian youth of today.
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Una Gunjak
Written by: Una Gunjak
Produced by: Adis Dapo, Amra Baksić-Camo
Cinematography: Matthias Pilz
Editing: Clémence Diard
Production Design: Emina Kujundzic
Costume Design: Katarina Pilic
Make-Up & Hair: Lamija Hadzihasanovic-Homarac
Original Score: Drasko Adzic
Sound: Igor Camo
Visual Effects: Antonio Ilic
Casting: Timka Grin
Cast: Asja Zara Lagumdzija (Iman)
Nominations and Awards
- Feature Film Selection 2023