Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic has revealed what to expect from her upcoming drama about the Srebrenica massacre, a genocide that took place during the Bosnian War in that country’s eastern region about 75 miles outside of Sarajevo.
In July 1995, Serbian forces killed more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General of the United Nations, described the massacre as “the worst [crime] on European soil since the Second World War.” Zbanic will have the film, titled “Srebrenica,” packaged and ready to present to producers by the end of this year.
The prominent female filmmaker is best known for her Golden Bear-winning “Grbavica,” a 2006 drama focused on a single mother and her teenage daughter struggling in the aftermath of the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, where Serbian troops systemically raped Bosniak women.
Zbanic spoke about “Srebrenica” at the Sarajevo Film Festival, where her doc “One Day in Sarajevo” held its world premiere in competition. (The exploration of differing perspectives on the assassination of Franz Ferdinand won the festival’s Human Rights award.)
“Because [the Srebrenica massacre] is a very heavy subject, I had to find a way of making it a human story and even people who have no connection with war or this kind of experience will still be able to connect emotionally with the human dimension of the story,” said Zbanic. Screen Daily reports that “Srebrenica” will center “on the true story of UN interpreter Hasan Nuhanović, who was based at the town when it fell to the Bosnian Serb Army in July 1995. Nuhanović’s family was among more than 5,000 civilians who joined 25,000 refugees seeking shelter on a UN base in Potočari.”
“We are telling of a moment in history which could have been different for 8,000 dead people, if someone had been more brave and if decisions were made in a different way,” Zbanic noted. “Srebrenica” is Zbanic’s biggest budget to date — more than double of anything she’s previously done. The war film will include a large cast, guns and tanks, but at its center, she says that “Srebrenica” is “a very emotional story about Europe and my country.” The director added, “When you start researching you see how many dimensions this act had.”