3000 € research grant sponsored by Heartefact Foundation is available for research of stories presented at True Stories Market, proposal deadline January 31, 2019

In 2016 Sarajevo Film Festival launched a new programme - Dealing with the Past. This project is dedicated to the improvement of dialogue in the countries of former Yugoslavia, faced with the deep and far reaching consequences of the aftermath of past conflicts. The film programme features a polyphony of author voices that tackle painful events of recent history. The subjects they explore are different, as are their aesthetic approaches and they confront viewers with unsolved war crimes, ethnic hatred, resurgent nationalism, and many wounds that have yet to heal. In previous years the programme welcomed renewed authors such us Joshua Oppenheimer, Ron Haviv, Ognjen Glavonić, Mila Turajlić, Lars Kraume, Nebojša Slijepčević, Anja Kofmel and others.

In addition to the film programme, the True Stories Market, a unique event that connects filmmakers with organisations that are documenting and researching the Yugoslav wars of the 90's has been launched with the aim of bringing these stories to wider audiences. Moreover, to facilitate the transition of the stories from the market to the screen, Sarajevo Film Festival is launching an open call for filmmakers interested to execute a project inspired by one of the stories. The Heartefact Fund will award a €3,000 grant to support further research of one of the stories.

Through straightforward application process – we invite filmmakers and production companies from the Southeast Europe to send us their proposals - fiction narrative or documentary feature, the submission deadline is: January 31, 2019. Please scroll down for more details on the application process.

Selected proposal submitted by the production company or the filmmaker will go through intense project development in Sarajevo, in April 2019 and subsequently it will be presented at the biggest SEE industry platform CineLink Industry Days with an aim to attract funders, potential producers and coproducers to engage in this unique process. The process is conceived as a dialogue between organization and filmmaker who can bring unheard, unique story to a broader audience. Ultimately the project once realized will be screened at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

This unique project is supported by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Heartefact Foundation.

Each story is presented by an actual pitch presentation that has taken place in August during 24th Sarajevo Film Festival and accompanied with short synopsis and presentation of the organization who delivered the story.


In the city of Prijedor in 1992, 102 children were murdered solely because of their names. Nermin and Nermina were among the victims, murdered on the doorstep of their home. Today, their father Fikret Bačić leads a group of local residents who are campaigning for a monument to be built in Prijedor that honours the city's innocent victims. But, contrary to prevailing nationalistic narratives, they want the monument to bear the name of every child killed in the conflict, regardless of their national and religious identity. They are faced with strong opposition from local Serb politicians. Paradoxically, they're also met with resistance from the Bosniak authorities as well, including the municipality president, who is openly sabotaging their initiative. Not only do the parents have to live with the terrible loss they’ve suffered, they still have to fight the same toxic politics that robbed Prijedor of 102 innocent kids over a quarter of a century ago.


About organization:
Youth Centre KVART
is a locally founded activist organisation that has been actively working on dealing with the past in Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina, since 2013. Kvart’s activities include dealing with human-rights and social-justice issues, as well as working with local youth, delivered through a cross-cutting approach.


“Three days after giving birth, she abandoned me. I grew up in an orphanage”. Amir Šečić, a 23 year-old boy in a crisp white shirt and sharp suit is giving a press conference. The cover of his memoir, I Was Hardly A Child, is decorated with his image. Amir's name is printed next to it. He was born four months after the Srebrenica genocide and this event had shaped his entire life. Ibrahim, the father of an unborn boy, was among the 8000 men and boys executed during the massacre. His pregnant wife managed to reach the city of Tuzla, where she gave birth in the local hospital. She ran away after three days, leaving her unnamed child behind. Many years later, Amir’s sponsor called him on the phone from Italy, asking what he needed, so he could go out and buy it for him. “I need my parents”, Amir replied bluntly, and hung up. Over the course of his life, moving from orphanage to foster family, to a family of a boy he sometimes played football with, he wasn’t just fighting ghosts. His quest was to find what war had taken away, before he ever got the chance to experience it.


About organization:
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH)
is a non-governmental media organization that specialises in monitoring and reporting on war-crime trials. Since it was formed in 2005, BIRN BiH has been analysing and informing the public about transitional justice issues and the work of war-crime chambers at state and local courts across Bosnia and Herzegovina. BIRN BiH supports the development of high-quality media, civil society, and the enforcement of human rights. In line with this purpose, BIRN BiH publishes a substantial body of high-quality reports, investigations into and analyses of crucial transitional justice, political, economic, and social issues. The organisation facilitates broad public debate on these topics through hosting cross-sector conferences.


In the summer of 1992 in Prijedor, 17 year-old Nermin Karagić stood in line waiting to be executed. After shooting and brutally beating most of his cohorts to death, the soldier carrying out the massacre let Nermin live so he could help them load the corposes onto a bus. Among them was the body of his own father. Heavily beaten, Nermin managed to escape only to be caught again during another massacre, and then again once more. Through a combination of sheer willpower and miraculous good fortune, he dodged death three times in total, each time experiencing beastly abuse and witnessing the murder of over 100 civilians. To this day, he holds the record for hours spent testifying in the Hague Criminal Tribunal. Having spent a short period of time abroad, he returned to his hometown of Prijedor, where he often runs into his former captors. Despite his effort to overcome the deep emotional wounds that remain visible on his face, he receives no institutional support and his story remains largely unknown. On the contrary, many years after the end of the war, Nermin fell victim to extreme brutality yet again: he spent a night chained to a radiator in a police station while being beaten by the officers who arrested him. He claims that that night was more traumatic than anything that had happened during the war because the policemen were of his own ethnic background.


About organization:
The Foundation for Building the Culture of Memory
was founded in Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the aim of reconciling the consequences of war through documenting human-rights violations and war crimes. The foundation also seeks to establish a centre for informing and documenting, as well as to create new commemorative processes and memorialisation practices.


The region of Eastern Bosnia witnessed extreme violence during the war. Twenty years later, between 2012 and 2014, nine Bosnian Serb women from Kravica and nine Bosniak women from Konjević Polje began meeting in the border city of Bratunac, only a few miles away from the horrific killing fields of Srebrenica. Under the guidance of a psychotherapist, the women shared their wartime experiences and traumas. Their husbands, brothers and sons fought on opposing sides, yet they found catharsis and joy in talking to one another. But the group was not warmly received by either side. They were judged by their families and communities and the community centre in Kravica was subjected to an arson attack in retaliation to this initiative This did not happen. But the women are persistent – they are still meeting up on their own, confident in their belief that communication and joint initiatives are key to reconciliation. The funds for the project were discontinued and the women continue to look for ways to support it, hoping to promote group therapy in other neighbouring communities scarred by conflict.


About organization:
Vive Žene
was founded in March 1994 during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the aim of supporting women and children, the most vulnerable victims of armed conflict. From initial material support and crisis interventions, Vive Žene has developed into a professional Centre for Therapy and Rehabilitation, which is located in Tuzla and active throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Vive Žene has been dealing with facing trauma as a process that started several years before the war and continues in the present, i.e. sequential traumatisation.


It's June 19, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. A crowd of women walks through the streets of Zenica. Some are older, wrapped in head scarves and long skirts; the younger ones wear jeans and leather jackets. Despite their outward differences, they share two things in common: the colourful balloons that they hold in their hands, and the rape they experienced during the war. The atmosphere is not solemn – they are calm and proud. Led by one of the first women to publicly speak up about the violence she suffered, they are on a mission to fight and change how society perceives them: they want to be treated as survivors, not victims. Even though they aren't at all responsible for what happened to them, they are still stigmatised by the patriarchal norms of Balkan society, which expects them to act a certain way. If they want to register as civil victims of war and receive the benefits that come with that, they have to appear quiet and broken, heavily stricken with the symptoms of PSTD. If they don't conform to their society's stereotypical image of a rape victim, their applications are often rejected. But as their spokesperson – who was also a victim of sexual violence – proclaims: "regardless of who our perpetrators are and what our names mean, we share a bond.  We need to share our experiences and, then, move on". Society needs to let them do that, too.


About organization:
Medica Zenica
is an expert non-governmental organisation that offers psycho-social and medical support to women and children who are victims of war and post-war violence, including victims of war rape and other forms of war torture. The organisation also treats victims of sexual violence in general, domestic violence survivors, and victims of human trafficking. Over the past 26 years, Medica Zenica has provided more than 450,000 beneficiaries with services throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, and has published more than 90 publications.


Who can apply?

  • Production company or filmmaker coming from the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey.

How do I apply?

  • If you are a production company interested to research and develop one of the stories as fiction narrative or documentary feature, your application will be valid if you send us a concept note, production concept and motivation letter by applying on this link by January 31, 2019.
  • If you are a director or screenwriter interested to research and develop one of the stories, your application will be valid if you send us a concept note and motivation letter by applying on this link by January 31, 2019.

What if my proposal gets selected?

  • You will be invited to further develop your proposal in Sarajevo, in April 2019 (three intense days with mentors who will help you to structure the story and to develop it in the project). Your project will be presented at the 25th Sarajevo Film Festival to different professionals attending CineLink Industry Days. Accommodation costs will be covered by Sarajevo Film Festival as well as partial reimbursement of your travel costs.

What is the timeline of the programme?

  • Submission deadline: January 31, 2019.
  • Announcement of the winner: second half of February 2019.
  • Intense tutorship: April 11 – 15, 2019 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Online consultations with experts: mid June 2019.
  • Attending Sarajevo Film Festival: August 17 – 20, 2019.
Should you have any questions, please write to the following address


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