Another cinematography has flourished and prospered after the fall of Yugoslavia. Bosnian cinematography has gained itself a pretty remarkable reputation among the most demanding moviegoers and connoisseurs. Very often on the lists of the most famous world festivals, followed by awards and good words, this cinematography should not be taken for granted.
Often dealing with difficult topics, post-war society and their problems and overall problems in Bosnia, these movies have a lot to say and are definitely not for the audience who only looks for something relaxing and easygoing. They are serious, dark and often depressing, but worth watching. And this is the list of the 10 best Bosnian movies of all time.
Quo vadis, Aida? (2020)
Jasmila Žbanić is one of the most famous and creative Bosnian directors and screenwriters and with this movie she swept away not only Europe but the whole world. Among countless awards, the movie also received a nomination for the best international Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.
This historical war drama retells and dramatises the events of the Srebrenica massacre when Serbian troops sent boys and men from Bosnia to death in July 1995. The movie’s title is connected to its main protagonists, Aida, a mother and a school teacher who is working with the UN as a translator. The story is told from her perspective while we follow her family who is also looking for shelter in the UN camp.
Halimin put (Halima’s Path, 2012)
This movie is a co-production of Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia, a war drama about a Halima, a grieving but determined Muslim woman who must track down her estranged niece. She needs to recover the bones of her son lost during the war in Bosnia in the 1990s. There is something that Halima hides from everyone, including the UN Committee for Missing Persons.
Her son was adopted and we need to find out everything about her story so we are taken back to twenty years ago when Halima and her husband adopted a child. We follow her story nowadays, too, when we learn that her son’s mother is actually this estranged niece of hers. There is a long and complicated story behind her giving up on this child and after Halima finds her, she discovers a horrifying fact which will stop her from further searching.
Ničija zemlja (No Man’s Land, 2001)
The directing debut of the talented Danis Tanović was a huge hit all around the world and also the winner of the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards in 2002. It is set in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993, when the war was raging. Two soldiers on the opposite sides, a Bosniak Čiki and a Bosnian Serb Nino become trapped in no man’s land.
There is one more soldier there with them, who wakes up from unconsciousness, Cera, a wounded Bosniak soldier who is lying on a land mine buried under him. While Čiki and Nino are constantly fighting, there is a rescue mission being organized for the three of them. In the meantime, it becomes obvious that the mine cannot be defused and Cera gets left alone in the trenches. The true face of the men in charge is slowly starting to show itself when they decide to lie about the situation to both Bosnian and Serbian troops.
Grbavica (Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams, 2006)
Another Jasmila Žbanić masterpiece, this is a story about a single mother and their daughter whose lives are still shaped by the Bosnian war in the 1990s. It is told through the eyes of Esma, this single mother, her daughter and many other women in contemporary Sarajevo. It was a huge hit and received a Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.
The title of the movie refers to the part of Sarajevo where Esma lives, which was one of the most affected neighborhoods in the city, where the aftermath of the rapes of Bosniak women by Serbian soldiers in the war can still be felt and seen. Esma lives with her daughter Sara who wants to go on a school trip.
This seemingly innocent situation will be the trigger for numerous situations, fights and revelations which will finally end in Esma’s and Sara’s making up and living the past behind them.
Gori vatra (Fuse, 2003)
The movie is set in the small town of Tešanj, two years after the Bosnian War, a town that is full of organized crime, prostitution and corruption. Its people live in peace, but the aftermath of war is still present in the town and inside them. Zaim is a retired police officer who can’t get over his son’s death and spends his days drinking and having visions of Adnan, whose body is missing.
Adnan’s siblings Faruk and Azra can’t do anything but watch their father’s decline. When the American president Bill Clinton announces his arrival in Tešanj, everything changes. The prostitutes are put somewhere out of sight, children are learning the lyrics to “House of the Rising Sun” and meanwhile, Faruk tries to find out what happened to his brother.
Kod amidže Idriza (Days and Hours, 2004)
This is a slow, dark and painful movie about loneliness, war and suffering. We follow a couple who lost their only son in the war and they are trying to survive their days as painlessly as possible. One day their friend Fuad Memić Fuke arrives to visit them and repair their water heater.
Their heater needs some additional parts and Fuke promises to come back but soon realizes that his car broke down and that he needs to stay with his cousins. This long night will only prove the sadness and depression these two poor people are dealing with, along with a family conflict Fuke knew nothing about. This good man will try and mend their hearts, providing them with his time and kind words.
Deset u pola (Not So Friendly Neighborhood Affair, 2021)
This movie was directed by Danis Tanović, one of Bosnia’s most accomplished directors and this time he is bringing a story of post-pandemic Sarajevo in 2021. The city’s Old Town is trying to recover from the financial impact the city suffered and we are going to meet an array of people who gather around the two most famous kebab restaurants in Sarajevo.
Enes and Izo are friends and rivals who are in a fight over the quality of their meat and the offer they have for their guests. Through this verbal feud, Tanović shows all the problems and issues Bosnian people are dealing with nowadays, being forced to accept all the changes and life decisions in front of them.
Savršeni krug (The Perfect Circle, 1997)
This war drama follows the story of a poet Hamza who discovers two boys hidden in his flat after he accompanied his wife and child from away the war threatened Sarajevo. These two poor boys have lost their family and wanted to hide from the grenades.
The mute Kerim and his younger brother Adis escaped the massacre in their own village and came to Sarajevo to find their aunt. They don’t know where the rest of their family is so Hamza decides to take them outside the besieged town. He befriends them and together they try to escape the war horrors.
Na putu (On the Path, 2010)
This is a story about Luna and Amar who live a pretty normal, non-religious life in modern Sarajevo. She is a stewardess and he works as a flight controller who gets fired after getting caught drinking alcohol during his working hours which is strongly forbidden. He is also sent to recover from his vice. Luna eventually forgives him for this carelessness.
While coming back from a trip, they got in a car accident with a man who happened to be Amar’s old friend Bahrija. Staying in touch, Bahrija offers Amar a job in his community where Amar begins to spend the majority of his time. Soon, Luna discovers the nature of the community and starts to notice the change in Amar’s behavior and world views.
Remake (Approved, 2003)
This movie is set in the interval of fifty years and it shows the situation in Sarajevo during World War II and the Bosnian War. We follow two tragic stories, the first set in the present time where a young writer Tarik sends his screenplay to a competition in France. The story is about his father during the outbreak of WWII in Sarajevo.
Eventually, Tarik is captured by the Serbian army but he manages to get out of Sarajevo and flee to Paris where there is interest in his script and where he meets one of his tormentors. Remake is so much more than a war movie. It is a coming-of-age drama that shows the good and bad sides of two young men’s lives.