Bridges of Sarajevo

In connection with the exhibition YOU AND ME

Monday, March 9, 2015 at 6pm
Goethe-Institut Chicago, 150 N. Michigan Ave., 200, Chicago, IL
Film: With English subtitles
Free Admission, RSVP REQUIRED

13 European directors explore the theme of Sarajevo; what this city has represented in European history over the past hundred years, and what Sarajevo stands for today in Europe. These eminent filmmakers of different generations and origins offer exceptional singular styles and visions.

DIRECTORS Aida Begić (Bosnia-Herzegovina) Leonardo Di Costanzo (Italy) Jean-Luc Godard (Switzerland) Kamen Kalev (Bulgaria) Isild Le Besco (France) Sergei Loznitsa (Ukraine) Vincenzo Marra (Italy) Ursula Meier (Switzerland) Vladimir Perišić (Serbia) Cristi Puiu (Romania) Angela Schanelec (Germany) Marc Recha (Spain) Teresa Villaverde (Portugal)


France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria, Germany, 2014, 114 min., Color

Bosnian, Catalan, French, German, Italian, Russian with English subtitles

Sarajevo, from 1914-2014, a fascinating series of short films sewn together into one. Who are the most appropriate European directors? How best to chose them? We came up with some needed guidelines, and were blessed with fruitful encounters. The final list is full of exemplary European filmmakers- men and women from different backgrounds, and different generations, each with a very particular style, and point of view a wonderful reflection of this fascinating city and its history. Linking artists from artists from “Eastern Europe” and “Western Europe”, terms which remain incredibly irrelevant today, we have painted a compelling portrait of Sarajevo.

The directors featured in THE BRIDGES OF SARAJEVO include, native Aida Begić, who has lived there her whole life, Ursula Meier, a German filmmaker who rushed to Sarajevo for the first time to make her short, Vincenzo Marra, another first timer who strove to keep his distance. There are also two shorts from Italian filmmakers, Marra and Leonardo Di Costanzo included in our selection.

As for Cristi Puiu, he knows the city well, he stayed there long enough to have the desire to build something somewhere else, in Romania, his birthplace, yet the ironic fairytale that focus on these atrocious tragedies portrays a city that trades with monsters, from the Roman Bridge to Sniper Alley.

Jean-Luc Godard, who had Sarajevo in his heart from the outset of the conflict was one of the first filmmakers, and artists (along with Chris Marker) to understand the sense of tragedy that was happening, which continues today. In 1993 he began to work on JE VOUS SALUE SARAJEVO which appears in THE BRIDGES OF SARAJEVO, JLG/JLG, For Ever Mozart (he gave the first copy to Serge Toubiana and myself, in an airplane which was the first civil aircraft to land in Sarajevo after war) and of course in his film, OUR MUSIC, which is the most explicit evidence of his commitment to Sarajevo.

In a different manner, Angela Schanelec and Vladimir Perišić try to measure the distance which differentiates the murderous act which triggered the First World War, the founding tragedy of our modern age, from the present time where terrorism still reigns.

Isild Le Besco was not even 10 years old when the first shells fell on Sarajevo, yet she fully enters into a memory where her sensitive intelligence manages to express the present day with somber echoes from the past. She went to Sarajevo for a two-week shoot, and stayed for months.

Each of our short films, each story, is carefully constructed and unique. Our only basic guideline as producers was not to generalize nor unify, nor homogenize. Each filmmaker who contributed to THE BRIDGES OF SARAJEVO is loved for his or her existing work. Thus each short film is original and presents an individual artistic perspective.

The project, of course, was to make a feature film. Created from the personal style of each of the thirteen films that composed it, we must remember that first and foremost, each short is its own film. Films which reflect their directors, and thus we trusted, that a common horizon would emerge, linking the films in a organic fashion that could not be predicted or predetermined.

We knew the movies would talk to each other, reply to one other and contrast with each other. Between the shorts are drawings by François Schuitten animated by Luís Da Matta Almeida they suggest what could be almost another story, a slight whisper of its own.

Each director’s intention has its own rhythmic pulse, yet a subjacent baseline unites their voices in a single harmonic motion. Like phrases, the points of view are repeated, with variation, throughout the film, emulating the ethics of the Nouvelle Vague. The essence of the idea truly lies here. Sarajevo is a terribly real city, an idea, a hope and a tragedy. Only genuine filmmakers, each with their own impulse and sensitivity, could be trusted to faithfully portray all these dimensions on the big screen. Jean-Michel Frodon

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