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BERLINALE 2023 Berlinale Special

Review: Kiss the Future


- BERLINALE 2023: Nenad Cicin-Sain offers us a glimpse into how music can be used as a weapon in wartime, retelling the story of the siege of Sarajevo

Review: Kiss the Future

If anyone – in times of social-media activism and hashtag challenges – wants to know how much harder it was before to get attention and whip up support for a cause, even for the biggest rock star of the 1990s, Bono, they should take a deep dive into Kiss the Future [+see also:
interview: Nenad Cicin-Sain and Bill C…
film profile
. This US-Irish documentary showing in the Berlinale Special Gala section of the Berlinale – which was directed by Nenad Cicin-Sain, written with Bill Carter (based on his non-fiction book Fools Rush In), and boasts Matt Damon and Ben Affleck among its producers – intertwines a few different topics while telling the story of how a post-war U2 concert happened.

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Cicin-Sain starts his film with archive footage from late 1989. As the Berlin Wall was falling, much like the Eastern bloc in Europe, other walls were being built. Slobodan Milošević, under the pretence of reclaiming the Serbian territory, sparked the Yugoslav Wars and besieged the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo for 1,425 days. The film follows a few citizens – journalist and artists among them – who, at that time, were trying to survive under the constant bombing and sniper shots, but who were also striving not to lose hope or their will to survive.

Music, performed in the makeshift underground clubs, was the most important tool to do so. Maverick journalist Bill Carter, who was based in Sarajevo, had done the impossible to keep spirits up: he contacted Bono, known for his social and political activism, in order to interview him for Bosnian TV. When contact was initially made, Bono was advocating for international military support for Sarajevo, and one of U2’s tours featured live broadcasts from the besieged city.

This is the core of the film’s story, which revolves around various issues of differing degrees of political relevance. Neither the USA, NATO nor the UN intervened in the war-torn Balkans for years, until the reports of genocide were too glaringly obvious to ignore. CNN news anchor Christiane Amanpour, interviewed for the film and shown in archive footage, provides some context to this, while former US president Bill Clinton seems to only half-explain why nothing was done in time. Cicin-Sain also discusses the humanitarian aid that was provided to Bosnia and focuses on the punk-rock music genre in order to give a little background to the social and political engagement of U2 and Bosnian band Sikter.

Kiss the Future uses a lot of footage from besieged Sarajevo and 1990s U2 gigs. These scenes, along with interviews with Bosnians, are the most powerful segments of the movie. By allowing music to speak, the director gives us a truly emotional experience and proves that even 30 years later, it still has a huge impact. There are minor weak points in the narrative: sometimes, the protagonists repeat themselves or tell the audience what they have already figured out – like the parallels between Milošević and today’s leaders. More decisive editing choices could have benefited the film, but it by no means disappoints or leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

Kiss the Future was produced by US-based Pearl Street Films, Good Wolves Productions and Ireland’s Maverick - Parallel Films. US company Fifth Season handles the world sales.

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Photogallery 19/02/2023: Berlinale 2023 - Kiss the Future

24 pictures available. Swipe left or right to see them all.

Nenad Cicin-Sain, Wim Wenders, Bono Vox, Adam Clayton, Matt Damon, Drew Vinton, Bill S. Carter, Sarah Anthony, Vesna Andree Zaimović
© 2023 Fabrizio de Gennaro for Cineuropa -,

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