International Film Festival Bosnia Herzegovina Looks Around (IFFBHLA)

Bosnia and Herzegovina
North Macedonia




For the most challenging and convincing film


Nebojsa Slijepcevic
Croatia / 2018 / 1:12:00

During the winter of 1991, Croatia defended itself against the military aggression of neighbouring Serbia. Among the innocent victims of this conflict was Aleksandra Zec, a teenager of Serbian origin, who was hatefully lynched in Zagreb. A generation later, while in Croatian schools, Serbian pupils continue to be taken for the “enemies” of yesterday, Oliver Frljic adapts “the Zec affair” at the theatre, with Nina, a Serbian, born in 2001, in the title role. In front of Nebojsa Slijepcevic’s camera, the troupe’s rehearsals turn into collective psychotherapy, interspersed by shots of an empty stage haunted by personal accounts that build up in voiceover. Through skilful metatheatre that involves both the troupe’s acting and sense of self as they work on their own memories, distanced by the theatrical device, Srbenka delineates a public space likely to break the cycle of vengeance. Slijepcevic´s film also constitutes a powerful reflection on one of the possible functions of art: to dry out, metre by metre, the cesspool of hatred fed by the entrepreneurs of ethnic cleansing who continue to act today.



The Jury unanimously and with great joy gives the Main Award in the Documentary Competition to a film which successfully tackles different layers of post-war living for the generations born after the conflict – the feature-length documentary “Srbenka” by Nebojsa Slijepcevic. Apart from being a cinematic tour de force employing a clever use of film language, masterful camerawork, and on-spot editing, in the background, the film also serves as a platform for examining art as a phenomenon. In this sense, “Srbenka” is an auto-referential work which sheds a light on the process of artistic creation and deals with the ethical questions of truth and fiction and their intersecti

The subject of the film, the creation of a theatrical performance, focuses on the deconstruction of a suppressed national notion according to hich it is unjust to condemn the Croatians for the death of a single Serbian child, Aleksandra Zec, when so many Croatian children had suffered in the war from the hand of the Serbs. Yet, this is not a mere recording of the creation of a controversial theater performance. The meta-narrative, told by the eye of the camera, focuses on the philosophical question of the power of art and its significance in fostering change in the real world. More than an aesthetic choice, the last shot of the film is following the student who decided to disclose her Serbian ethnicity during the performance, outside of the theater building and into the streets of Rijeka, a Croatian seaport city with a large Serbian minority. Thus, the author of the film suggests that art has the potential power to influence reality and this power can be especially significant in communities with bottled-up bitterness over an unresolved past.


For films offering ideas and perspectives for a sustainable future

Balkan Triangle

Stef Brok
Netherlands / 2018 / 1:23:00

Balkan Triangle follows three stories of people who were vital in resisting nationalism before, during and after the Yugoslavian Wars of the 1990s. The film is set in Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo. It explores how these men have used media to stand up against Milosevic and try to build bridges between the different societal groups. They’ve made huge sacrifices to uphold the freedom of speech, freedom of press and the rights of journalists, sometimes even putting their own lives in danger. The film’s narrative unfolds through a series of storylines, set against historical events throughout the Balkan Wars. The main characters talk about their personal experiences, in many cases on the actual spot where it all happened, mixed with archive footage of the events from the 1990s. All of them share their message as to what should be done in order to prevent it all from happening again in the future.




“Balkan Triangle”, a documentary film by Stef Brok, investigates the role of media during wartime, and specifically when activists use the media power to try to prevent war. The film embeds this intention querying the corpus of three media platforms based in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Kosovo, whose managers endorsed peacemaking and popular demonstrations against violence and extremism. The film focuses on how the protagonists reenact the past when they were channeling to the their audiences ways to reconceive the notion of the Other, to shift from jungle laws to social equalities, to embrace the value of social cohesion that bypasses political, religious, and economic pyramidal values. The dialogue maintains a narrative line heading toward redefining the dignity and freedom scopes in the multicultural territories of ex-Yugoslavia. In this perspective, “Balkan Triangle” becomes itself an attempt to resist the fanatic ideologies that lead to human failure materialized, in its apogee, by wars such as those in the Balkans in the 1990s. It’s a documentary about the traumatic fallen past, the post-traumatic unstable present, and the ongoing attempt to learn from fears in order for humanity to heal the symptoms of more potential war, and thus, to invest the past for a better and sustainable fu


I am very honoured to be receiving this award. As I was traveling the Balkans in order to film my documentary the world was in turmoil. It was during the rise of Trump in the USA and terms like 'fake news' and 'alternative facts' were commonly used. Also all critical media were labeled 'enemy of the people' and this formed the base for Trump's ideas. So as I got deeper and deeper into the history of former Yugoslavia and found the stories of these people that in the past used the media to battle the Milosevic regime and the rising nationalism, I felt a huge parallel with our current times. Therefore I am very happy the jury sees my film as part of that same battle my main characters were/are fighting. This way the festival and the jury push the theme of my film into the now. All I wish for is that my film is being seen and that people think and talk about the issues presented. That's exactly what this festival (among others) has made possible. Thank you.


For films based and focused on sensitive insights including enigmatic dimensions

Talking with the Dead
Parler avec les morts

Taina Tervonen
France / 2020 / 1:07:00

Twenty-five years after the war, a mass grave was discovered in northern Bosnia. Darija Vujinovic travels around the country searching for families of the missing. She gathers their memories and the four drop of blood needed to identify the bodies...



The jury is happy to present this year’s SENSITIVITY AWARD in the Documentary Film Competition to “Talking With The Dead”, directed by Taina Tervonen. Covering a difficult topic in the Balkan region — the effort to uncover mass graves and identify bodies through DNA matching — the film follows a team of experts in their journey to identify victims and try to bring closure to families. In the field, one woman goes from household to household to collect blood samples while in the lab, a team investigates body remains. It is a heart-wrenching, slow, and diligent process — a final effort to provide some dignity to the dead and those that have mourned them for over 25 years. The film never gets in the way of the process, simply observing it and allowing the viewer to see and feel the human grief directly and without obstruction. It is not always an easy thing to watch, but nevertheless extremely important. At the end of the film, we see what all this careful work to find and identify the missing is about: providing some kind of peace and closure to the victims’ familie


For films touching important subjects and offering information in an astonishing and conclusive way

Little Star Rising

Sladana Lucic
Croatia / 2019 / 1:15:00

She set out to complete a triathlon and ended up changing lives.




For its clever way of telling the uncommon story of its dynamic protagonist, and for showing Bosnia and Herzegovina in different colors than the typical media coverage, the jury decided to give the SURPRISE AWARD in the Documentary Competition to the film “Little Star Rising”, by Sladana Lucic.

The narrative is cleverly built around the character of Nudzejma in such a way that the exposition suggests a story about a young Muslim woman whose struggle would be overcoming the imposed cultural and religious limitations of her community and becoming a successful athlete while wearing a hijab. However, once the viewer is hooked by the candy-quality of the protagonist’s goal, the narrative uncovers un additional layer: Nudzejma and her mother were refugees and she lost her father in the war. The difficult past of the protagonist is then dramaturgically juxtaposed to her mission to motivate and help people from her community who come from different backgrounds feel better about themselves through sports. Just as the story is becoming too perfect and leaning toward melodrama, the narrative uncovers yet another dark layer to the protagonist – Nudzejma is revealed to be the stepdaughter of Abu Hamza, a former Mujahid who sought to establish a fundamentalist muslim community in Bosnia after the war. She maintains a close and loving relationship with him, while at the same time deciding to run a marathon under the official Bosnian state flag, as opposed to the one representing solely the muslim community.

As Nudzejma’s different identities are uncovered one by one, the film suggests that a harmonious life among all is possible in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in any other region around the world wounded by war.


I'm honoured and grateful for this wonderful award. I wanted this story to show the capabilities of human will and determination, no matter what obstacles, expectations, and barriers they may encounter within different communities. This is an homage to human optimism and persistence. The importance of Nudzejma's story is the space it creates for much needed dialog which can support mutual understanding between different beliefs. In addition, this is a story of personal growth and change, as well as the positive change within diverse countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina.