Srđan Vuletić, film director
[wzslider]“Sarajevo Times” had the opportunity to speak with filmmaker Srđan Vuletić. His feature film ”Ljeto u Zlatnoj Dolini” (Summer in the Golden Valley) premiered in 2003 and succintly and realistically portrayed the generation of young people in the post-war period in Sarajevo. He told us that unfortunately, not much has changed since this period. He manages to depict the dominant social issues that faced post-war Sarajevo and BiH by depicting ordinary situations and how individuals struggled to carve out a semblance of certainty while facing the unknown. Despite the rampant problems here, he describes Sarajevo as a city with opposing qualities, a city that makes you feel as if you are walking through different time periods and a city that manages to combine two distinct philosophies.
By: Medina Malagić
You made a movie in 2003 entitled “Ljeto u ZlatnojDolini” (Summer in the Golden Valley). There are numerous contradictions presented in that movie, regarding how people in this city present themselves. Is this how you see Sarajevo, as a city of contradictions?
Sarajevo is a city that you can love and hate at the same time. In some ways, Sarajevo is a city that can be very gentle and very rude towards you. In the movie, I tried to portray a generation of young people during a specific period. These are young people who were shoved under after the war. They were left with a very bad recent past-the war, collapse of the former Yugoslavia, and they were faced with the unknown directly in front of them. There was no visible bright future in front of them, and so I tried to portray an environment that does not offer you anything apart from trying to carve out something better for oneself.
This means that there is no system in which one can find support, so that through this system you can accomplish something. Thus, you end up having to solve your problems on your own. In this sense, I thought about how to show both sides of Sarajevo. I know that many people reacted harshly when this film premiered. For example, they seemed surprised at the amount of cursing in the movie. I thought for myself, if cursing in my film is a problem, then we are all in deep sh…. So, I think that Sarajevo has a huge problem in dealing with the truth.
You see the worst types of crime, but when this is shown on the big screen, this hits the audience even harder and they actually do recognize the problem, but the vast majority of them do not want to confront it. Ten years after the movie was made, there have been a large number of incidents regarding juvenile crime, stabbings in the tram, youngsters carrying weapons, etc… Many people saw that and did not react on time. People who were attacking the film then started to write on various blogs and news portals that things need to be solved. So, double standards are a theme in Sarajevo.
Unfortunately, I think that the film is still relevant today. Not much has changed since the film came out in 2003. Now, I can say that this film can be viewed as a documentary with specific historical elements that cannot be filmed any longer. Simply put, this film succinctly captured a particular moment in post-war Sarajevo. At the end of the day, the film played great both domestically and internationally, and it turned out that the film influenced many young people and became more relevant than I had originally thought.
Can you tell us more about your current projects and future plans?
After “Ljeto u ZlatnojDolini”, I made a movie called “Tesko je Biti Fin” (It’s Hard to be Nice). It is a story about a taxi driver who is involved in criminal activities and tries to get out of this type of life and become good. However, he creates more enemies than he previously had. I tried to tell this story about a space in BiH in which it is not enough to have good intentions. It also has to be done, and I tried to create an ambient where it portrays that it is easier to do illegal actions than legal ones, easier to buy a stolen suit than to buy one, etc… I told the story as a bittersweet comedy and my stories revolve around ordinary people with small problems.
I am currently filming a new movie and am again dealing with what Sarajevo and BiH is now. I am focusing more on human rights violations, because currently in BiH human rights violations are widespread. What is disturbing is that most people have become ignorant of this. They do not even recognize it any longer. People do not see it as a problem if people in the LGBT community are mistreated or the various problems that national minorities face. We have come to a very dangerous dead end and are now separated from a certain standard of a civilized society. Thus, a huge discourse, debate and energy are necessary.
Sarajevo is often described as a city where “East Meets West”. In your perspective, how would you define this description of Sarajevo and what does it mean to you?
For many European cities, such as Budapest, Skopje, Pristina, Belgrade, all tourist brochures will say the same thing. However, in Sarajevo this description is visible in a more concrete way. In Sarajevo, from the old town to the new part of the city, it is as if you are walking through time. However, in Sarajevo this description is visible in a more concrete way, not only through architecture and what is immediately visible.
What is more interesting to tourists is the connection between two philosophies. Sarajevo is not a city where people are always running. Even if this may sound funny, in a country that is rampant with corruption, people are not constantly running towards money. Money is not the most primary thing. There is a sort of Eastern perspective on time and how people spend their day. This can be felt in Sarajevo. People in Sarajevo are more likely to not do anything all day than to run around trying to earn something. People recognized this aspect of Sarajevo even if they are here for a short time. So, even if multiethnicity took a hit here, it is not a made up story. It is a real story and people see this.
I personally think that these imaginary borders within the country are not as strong as they appear. Sarajevo is not like Mostar, where the division is conspicuous. In some way, Sarajevo preserved a feeling for communalism and the toleration of differences. For example, in Sarajevo there are no crimes motivated by ethnic hatred, which is very different than in Zagreb and Belgrade where these types of crimes are more common. Despite all that has happened, Sarajevo has retained a feeling for diversity, the sensibility for diversity, and this can be due to some historical factors. Yes, there are many factors working against this, but the feeling is still here. This will continue to develop, and we will have to see in what direction it goes.
How much of your own life do you input in your movies?
I attempt to create a film story, so that my private life has the least amount of effect on the story. However, it is normal for my story to have my seal. As long as you try to be objective from one side, it is impossible because it is your story. It is a process where you are looking for the best balance.
Also, upon choosing your theme, you have to do research so you know your subject. These are themes that are not directly a part of your private life.
What are some of the focal points of comparison between Sarajevo and other urban areas that you have visited?
I have heard the expression that goes something like, In Florence there are 1,000 flaws, but people from Florence will not tolerate people who are not from Florence to mention this and to speak about the bad things. In Sarajevo, I think a large problem is that people do not have money, there is a protracted economic crisis, and people cannot live in the way that they want. It is a city that in the last five years has become frozen. There is a lack of development of diversification regarding what is on offer to tourists and progress is slow.
This is a city that you either love or hate, and it is a city that I still love.