Bosnian director Aida Begic finally leaves the war in “A Ballad”

Currently seeking funding and partners to complete post-production, Aida Begić’s fourth feature film “A Ballad” is set to bow out in the CineLink Work in Progress section of the Sarajevo Film Festival after winning the award. Eurimages for the development of the co-production during the event in 2015. Produced by Adis Đapo and François D’Artemare – respectively for Film House Sarajevo and Les Films de l’Après Midi in France – it will mark an important departure for the Bosnian director , used to tackling serious social problems in her work.

“My first three films were about the consequences of war and now I’ve decided to talk about something else. I was tired, ”says the director, whose first feature“ Snow ”won the Critics’ Week Grand Prize at Cannes and whose second feature,“ The Children of Sarajevo ”, received the Special Distinction of the Jury at Cannes Un Certain Regard. line up.

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“If I have a hard time watching one serious movie after another, how can I wait, say, for my aunt to go to the movies and really enjoy it?” In Bosnia, we basically force people to look at their own lives on the screen. But this film is funny and light, and I’m so proud of it, “she adds.

Her protagonist, Meri, returns to her childhood home after her marriage to Hasan goes sour. Living with her outspoken mother is not easy, but Meri finds a way out: she decides to audition for a role in a film that will be shot in her neighborhood.

“She’s not your typical heroine,” Begić says. “I was trying to show a woman who isn’t really strong – she’s confused. But when you find yourself in trouble, it doesn’t matter if you can’t deal with things right away, or if you’re still in love with a man who doesn’t want to live with you anymore. It’s good to feel lost. These characters also deserve our attention, even though Meri ultimately finds her freedom in art.

Admitting that another twist awaits his viewers, Begić also drew inspiration from traditional Bosnian folk ballads. Especially “Hasanaginica”, created in the 17th century and recounting the tragedy of a victimized woman, driven from her home by her husband then forced to remarry, finally dying of grief, unable to find her children.

“This is not a direct reference, but I needed to deconstruct this myth that a woman’s greatest achievement is to suffer and die with dignity. Why is he so valued, when we see so many fighters in our everyday life? I tried to place him in a contemporary context and this time, it is the mother who offers him to remarry. Many women share this patriarchal mindset. They are the ones who sometimes preserve it.

The question of what it means to be released, as a woman but also as a filmmaker, is something Begić also asked himself. Determined to look for new solutions this time around and to play with the expectations of the industry.

“I felt so trapped, going to all these festivals and markets, realizing that I’m not really free. In our industry, people don’t know the recipe, but they act the way they do. I didn’t want to listen to anyone when I was doing ‘A Ballad’. That’s why it’s a very independent, low-budget movie, ”she says, describing the pandemic shooting as something that brought her and her team“ a whole new level of joy ” .

“I really needed that kind of experience. If you look at the European arthouse scene, we’re still fighting what we call “American” solutions, so God forbid, there’s a flashback or a happy ending. But then we start to repeat ourselves too, ”she said.

“I wanted to explore my character’s freedom and my own freedom as a director, and of course I use flashbacks and all that ‘blasphemous’ elements of cinematic language that we’re so afraid of. All these questions that I have been asking myself for so long? They are now part of the film.

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