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Barbara Cupisti • Réalisatrice de Hotel Sarajevo

“Les images d’archives que nous venions de voir étaient les mêmes que celles, provenant d’Ukraine, qui commençaient à tourner sur les réseaux sociaux”


- Nous avons rencontré la réalisatrice italienne à l’occasion du Balkan Film Festival de Rome, pour parler du documentaire qu’elle a réalisé à propos des trente ans du siège de Sarajevo et de son prochain film, consacré à l’Ukraine

Barbara Cupisti • Réalisatrice de Hotel Sarajevo

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

Barbara Cupisti, of Tuscan origin, lives between Warsaw and the USA. After many years spent working as an actress, she stepped behind the cameras and now has eleven documentaries exploring important social issues to her name. Hotel Sarajevo [+lire aussi :
interview : Barbara Cupisti
fiche film
, a film about the siege on the Bosnian capital which began thirty years ago exactly, in 1992, is her latest documentary, which recently screened at the Sarajevo Film Festival and the Balkan Film Festival in Rome - where we met up with her - and which is available in Italy via the RaiPlay platform.

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Cineuropa: What stage were you at with your work on Sarajevo when the assault on the Ukraine began, on 24 February? And how did it affect you, to see war returning to Europe?
Barbara Cupisti: We were at an advanced stage of editing, and we’d only just finished watching all the archive material available. The images we’d just seen were the same as the ones which were starting to come out of the Ukraine and circulating on social media. It was a shock because the way the footage was filmed was also similar. In Sarajevo, civilians were asked to document what was happening with their own cameras, and that was the material we focused on, rather than news footage. There were images of regular people, really intimate moments like the ones you see on Instagram today. Hotel Sarajevo is a film about what life is like in Bosnia-Herzegovina today. It tells three stories, about three generations discussing current events and how the memory of the war influences their lives.

Where did the high-impact archive material that you used come from?
It came from a Bosnian filmmaker, Nihad Kreševljaković, who had started to gather footage by amateur video enthusiasts and who went on to make a film called Do You Remember Sarajevo? It was composed of six hours of non-edited material, divided into three chapters: video messages (in order to communicate, people sent each other sorts of video letters); weddings (proving that life went on, in spite of everything); and funerals (linked to the conflict). Nihad, who founded the Sarajevo Theatre Festival, also appears in my film: the festival was founded at the very time the siege was taking place; people wanted to carry on as normal and were willing to risk their skin to go and see a show.

What gave you the idea to place the former Holiday Inn hotel at the heart the story?
The film was born out of an idea by Andrea Di Consoli, who wanted to make something about the thirty-year anniversary of the siege. I immediately embraced the idea because I’d been wanting to make something about Bosnia for a long time, and, taking inspiration from an investigation which had come out on Al Jazeera, I decided to centre the film around the hotel. I have really strong memories of watching the news at the time, and of that yellow cube which looked totally out of place with the rest of the city’s architecture, which journalists were holed up in, as if it were a fortress, and which stayed standing despite all the bombing. The first person we contacted was Boba Lizdek and it just so happened that at that very moment she was putting together an exhibition about the hotel; at the time she was a fixer, she’d experienced her greatest love story in that hotel, and the trauma she felt was so overwhelming, she had to stop. Then Zoran Herceg came along, starting out as our fixer. But once we’d heard his story, we decided to make him one of our protagonists. And then when Boba and Zoran went to meet Belmina Bajrović, the hotel’s new director who’s 26 years old - the same age Boba was at the time of the siege - we decided to get these three generations talking about the current situation.

In terms of the Ukraine, you’ve just visited the country for your upcoming project. What angle are you taking for the film?
I got back from the Ukraine a few days ago. We shot for three weeks in all. I started out in Odessa, the moved on to Lviv, Kiev, Borodjanka… The war is in full flow there, you start out with an idea but then everything changes in a flash, it’s difficult to stick to a schedule. The major question and starting point is why, in 2022, with everything we should have learned by now, are there still conflicts like this? And then there’s the role played by women, which is especially significant in the Ukraine.

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(Traduit de l'italien)

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