Saturday, August 1, 2009

Snow: Bosnia's complicated peace

Melbourne International Film Festival 2009

Snow (Snijeg) is another movie that explores the dark side of humanity but offers hope to those who survive the worst that modern society can serve up to them. It’s Bosnia 1997 and the Slavno village is trying to cope without the men who were taken away during the war. Their fate is still unknown. There are only two males remaining, Dedo (Mir Hadžihafizbegović) the grandpa who leads prayer at their wrecked mosque and Ali (Benjamin Đip) a young boy who is totally traumatised by his personal horror.

Young widow Alma (Zana Marjanović) struggles to bring her husband’s dream to life by making the area a viable farming community. When two Serbs come offering to buy their land for developers, past and future clash as they search their souls for a way forward.

The cast have a mixed background of theatre, film and television. The children are all first-timers. It doesn’t show in their performances that are excellent given the dramatic nature of their parts.

Zana Marjanović gives a very controlled portrayal. Writer/director Aida Begic captures the rhythms of her life in close detail. Alma’s relationship with her mother-in-law Safija (Vesna Mašić) is skilfully realised and nuanced. It is Aida’s first feature-length venture, after directing short films.

As religion plays a central role in their community, the couple of supernatural elements are forgivable.

If you get a chance, don’t miss Snow. In Aida Begic words:
War is one of the most essential situations one can experience because of the constant closeness of death. If death follows you in peacetime, then peace continues to be as essential as the war was. Peacetime is sometimes more complicated than the war.

… This relationship between life and death, war and peace, past and future creates a lot of absurdities in the lives of people in my country. It creates a lot of questions but gives no answers. Pain and joy, love and hate, east and west are all happening and clashing at the same time.

… it may sound overly romantic to insist that the struggle for truth and freedom is worthwhile. But maybe we just need to be reminded. If art is not there to remind us, then what is?
Director’s Note

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