One Day in Sarajevo: Different perspectives on an historic event
by Vladan Petkovic
- Jasmila Žbanić has brought a collage filmed by various people on the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo
The biggest filmmaking name to break out of Bosnia and Herzegovina after Danis Tanović, writer-director Jasmila Žbanić won the Golden Bear with Esma’s Secret [+see also:
interview: Barbara Albert
interview: Jasmila Zbanic
film profile] in 2006, which she followed up with On the Path [+see also:
film profile], For Those Who Can Tell No Tales [+see also:
film profile] and last year's Love Island [+see also:
film profile]. She returns to documentary filmmaking with One Day in Sarajevo [+see also:
interview: Jasmila Žbanić
film profile], which world-premiered in the documentary competition of the Sarajevo Film Festival.
On 28 June 2014, for the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which sparked the First World War, a celebration was held in Sarajevo. The assassination is still a subject of much controversy in the Balkans and Europe, with interpretations ranging from celebrating the assassin, Gavrilo Princip, as a hero to those calling him a terrorist. Žbanić decided to put various points of view together as she invited citizens of Sarajevo, artists, journalists, political activists and personal friends to film their own versions and experiences on that day with small cameras and smartphones.
The result, 60 minutes long, is engaging, thought-provoking and even enlightening. It includes footage of people visiting Princip's grave at an Orthodox church, and a protest by activists in front of Sarajevo's City Hall, where European officials gathered to listen to a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, which was broadcast on a giant screen outside – it is particularly telling and bitterly funny to see Bosnians rising to their feet for “Deutschland über Alles” (which perfectly explains the activists' protest against neo-colonialism and the €2 million expense that the government spent on the event). Another inclusion is by local conceptual artist Damir Nikšić, who shot his performance with a mobile phone and a selfie stick: armed with a water pistol, he mimics the assassination by sprinkling the windscreens of cars passing by the spot where the historic murder took place, and then cleaning the windows, asking the drivers for money.
Besides footage of people praising Princip and those condemning him as a terrorist (including two Catholic priests who suggest that in order to bring about peace, following the Catholic Church is always a good idea), the film is interspersed with snippets of everyday life, such as a Serbian wedding and a Sarajevo-born immigrant who has brought his Canadian-born children to show them where he grew up.
Žbanić also uses footage from three feature films (two Yugoslavian and an Austrian one) to counterpoint today's events, repeating the sequence of the assassination from each film three times to underline the different points of view and various details that are discovered through repetition.