Consequences of the Wars

in 8th Prishtina International Film Festival

by Nachum Mochiach

The main competition of the 8th edition of Prishtina International Film Festival in Kosovo (April 22 – 29, 2016) given the name “Honey & Blood”. The title echoes the fact that the region is still recovering from the last Balkan, or Yugoslav, wars (1991-2001), and that fact still influences many of the films made in this part of the world.

The multi awarded The High Sun (Zvizdan) by Dalibor Matanic consists of three personal stories, each takes place in a different decade, from the eruption of the Balkan wars to this day. The recurring theme of the stories is unreasonable hatred that develops between neighbors, speaking the same language and living on the same piece of land, because of different ethnic origins and religious beliefs. This gap destroys even relationships between lovers, whose affection towards each other becomes forbidden.

Death in Sarajevo (Mort a Sarajevo) by Danis Tanovic takes place on 28.6.2014, the centennial anniversary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke of Austria-Este, Austro-Hungarian and Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia. The assassination by the Bosnian student Gavrilo Princip is believed to have been the primary cause for the eruption of World War 1. In Hotel Europa the manager is making the final preparations for hosting delegations of distinguished diplomats from many European countries, in an effort to achieve a peaceful future for the people of the region. But the workers of the hotel have other issues in mind. They didn’t get their salaries for months and naturally they protest.  Their leader is a laundry worker, who is the mother of the reception manager, a very decisive young lady whom the manager wanted to promote before he fired her. At the same time, a French diplomat is rehearsing his speech, and in another location in the hotel, a very sharp TV anchor-woman is interviewing VIPs. This brilliant film is very allegoric and has an Altmanesque look.

A Good Wife (Dobra Zena) by Mirjana Karanovic tells of a 500 year old bourgeois wife who gets bad news – she is diagnosed with breast cancer. At the same time she finds out something horrible about her husband’s past. It seems he was involved in war crimes. The Woman wakes up from a convenient and peaceful life to a nightmare.

Our Everyday Life (Nasa Svakodnevna Prica) by Ines Tanovic depicts the life of an ordinary family, who stopped functioning normally since the war. The father is forced to leave the company that he built from start. His wife, who is retired, discovers that she has breast cancer. Their son, who served in the Bosnia Herzegovina army during the war, lives with his parents and is unable to get himself to do something productive. His sister, who lives in Slovenia, is pregnant and isn’t planning to get married. It seems all four of them are doing nothing in order to change anything.

Two other films in the category dealt with different aspects of the serious problems Europe is coping with nowadays. The Bulgarian The Judgment (Sadilishteto) by Stephan Komandarev tells the story of a man who lost his job due to the economic crisis, and finds himself smuggling refugees from the Middle East. A Blast (Sheperthimi) by the Greek Syllas Tzoumerkas shows what happens to a very gifted and optimistic young woman, married and raising a new family, because of the economic crisis that seem to destroy everything in her life.

Edited by Yael Shuv