Where am I?
University hosts local debuts of Bosnia films
By Megan Myers
Two short films dealing with the Bosnian war and genocide premiered in St. Louis at Fontbonne University on January 1, with a second screening on February 1.
Both films touched on the theme of the University’s Dedicated Semester, “Immigrant Experiences,” highlighting the struggle of Bosnians and all refugees to cope with the burdens and the responsibilities of remembering the ordeal they have somehow survived.
The protagonists of Harun Mehmedinovic’s short film “In the Name of the Son” are unable to escape the horrors of their past in Bosnia. While living in his new home of Los Angeles, Tarik receives an unexpected visitor: the Serb guard who had spared his life at the concentration camp in which he was held during the war. Wracked with guilt over his crimes, the man approaches Tarik for absolution.
The 25-minute film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and has since received critical acclaim and numerous awards.
Mehmedinovic’s family survived the war in Sarajevo by hiding in a cellar for 3 1/2 years. While the film is not autobiographical, Mehmedinovic has said that his interest in creating the film grew out of his own difficulties with adjusting to civilian life after experiencing the trauma of war.
“Neither Here Nor There” tells the story of the Selimovic family’s pursuit of a new life outside Bosnia as they struggle to confront and understand the War and genocide that turned their home in the Eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica into the site of the worst act of genocide in Europe since World War II. Along with the systematic rape and abuse of women in Srebrenica, more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred there in July 1995 after the UN abandoned the area to Serb militias.
After surviving Srebrenica, the family resettled in Columbia, Mo., where they met filmmaker Kerri Yost. Yost had been anxious to document the experiences of Bosnian immigrants after meeting many Bosnians through her work as an English teacher in Columbia.
Dr. Benjamin Moore, who heads the Bosnia Memory Project at the University, called the film “required viewing for anyone wishing to learn more about the Bosnian genocide.”
Amir Karadzic, a collaborator with Moore on the exhibit, “Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide,” added that “the story of the Selimovic family is a perfect example of how future generations will benefit by remembering the Bosnian genocide in a proper way.”
At the February screening, the St. Louis Bosnian Islamic Society’s choir, Ferhadija, performed a short concert of sacred music.
A panel discussion featuring the directors allowed the audience to ask questions about the films and learn more about the Bosnian War and genocide, which lasted from 1992-1995 and led to the killing and displacement of millions of Bosnian Muslims.