The Bridges of Sarajevo: an omnibus named Europe
by Bénédicte Prot
- CANNES 2014: 100 years after the outbreak of the First World War, 13 great filmmakers celebrate European culture through the evocation of a city in which it bled
They were nearly all there in the 60th Room of the Cannes Film Festival, the 13 big names of contemporary European cinema brought together by Jean-Michel Frodon around the project The Bridges of Sarajevo [+see also:
film profile], a collective film created to mark the centenary of the assassination, on 28 June 1914, of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand of Austria, on the Roman Bridge of the Bosnian capital, an event better known as the Sarajevo attack, which marked the beginning of the First World War.
The film brings together 13 segments of equal length, separated by short animations which were entrusted to the famous Belgian comic-book artist François Schuiten. The creators, in their order of appearance, are: the excellent new voice of Bulgarian cinema Kamen Kalev (at the Directors’ Fortnight in 2011 with The Island [+see also:
film profile] – read review), the Serbian Vladimir Perisic, the seasoned Italian documentary maker noted recently for his first fiction Leonardo Di Costanzo (The Interval [+see also:
interview: Leonardo Di Costanzo
film profile]), the German Angela Schanelec, who films regularly in France (she made Marseille and Orly [+see also:
film profile] there), the Romanian Cristi Puiu (The Death of Mr Lazarescu [+see also:
film profile]), the unabated cult director of political and photographic vehemence Jean-Luc Godard, a regular at the Cannes competition Sergei Loznitsa, the Catalan Marc Recha, the always-veiled Bosnian director Aida Begic (at Cannes two years ago with the very beautiful Children of Sarajevo [+see also:
interview: Aida Begić
film profile], as she was born in the wounded city with its pavements strewn with scarlet "roses" there where the bombs fell), the Portuguese Teresa Villaverde (who had already participated in 2004 in the vast omnibus film Visions of Europe), the Neapolitan Vincenzo Marra, the French director and actress from a cinema family Isild Le Besco, who in her segment adopted the point of view of a child which comes close to the charming tone of The Life Before Us, and finally the French-Swiss Ursula Meier (creator of Sister [+see also:
interview: Kacey Mottet Klein
interview: Ursula Meier
film profile]), who very elegantly carried out the mission of providing this vast enterprise with a tender and poetic final word, a soothing one.
The film begins with a dream scene preceding the assassination of Franz-Ferdinand and continues to move forward chronologically through the history of Europe, building on its wounds, its fractures. And then, halfway through, the tone changes, and becomes that of a nostalgic overview, looking back on the past from a more contemporary point of view, which is more feminine also, as if the reappearance of hope, of optimism, of faith in the future, and of childhood, had been left up to the female directors – or perhaps they naturally move in that direction, Frodon having spelled out that each of the 13 directors had done their parts based on common terms of reference.
As the wars are buried in the past, it is also a question of culture, in particular the culture of books, which will rebuild the broken bridges and upon which a new Europe can be restored – because what other object apart from a book is capable of uniting the efforts of all the inhabitants of a bombed city whose library is burning, and who each decide to save a book, in order to return it after, once peace has been restored?
One hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War, 13 directors were certainly needed to bring good luck to Europe for the next 100 years!
(Translated from French)
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