True Stories Market connects filmmakers with war documentation

Part of the Sarajevo Film Festival's Dealing with the Past programme, the new True Stories Market is a unique event that connects filmmakers with organisations that are documenting and researching the Yugoslav wars of the 90's, with the aim of bringing these stories to wider audiences.

At the True Stories Market event on 17 August, the organisations will present six cases that have not yet been the subject of films or TV productions to filmmakers. The presentations will be followed by one-on-one meetings where filmmakers can learn more about the cases and the possibility of developing films or documentary projects based on them, using the research, documentation and expertise that the organisations can offer.

Jovan Marjanovic, Head of Industry at Sarajevo Film Festival, commented:

"Thanks to the invaluable work of these organisations, there are vast collections of research material and documentation of the wars. But far too much of it and the events it chronicles remains unknown by the general public. We want to help change that, and our aim is to create an "open source" where these organisations and filmmakers can meet and collaborate. We hope this will allow these important stories to be taken to the larger audiences they deserve, using the urgency and power that cinema can offer."

Partner organisations in this first edition of the initiative are the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past, forumZFD Ziviler Friedensdienst, Integra, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, and the Research and Documentation Center Sarajevo.

The Dealing with the Past programme is supported by Robert Bosch Stiftung and is presented in partnership with Al Jazeera Balkans.

These stories will be presented:


Source: Centre for Civic Education (CCE) Montenegro

Montenegrin society has not yet fully confronted the truth about the Morinj detention camp. This place, which brings back painful memories to those who were imprisoned there during the war in the 1990s, today takes pride in its exceptional tourist offer. Those who visit Morinj today know nothing of what happened there a mere two decades ago. People in Montenegro still shy away from the issue and are unprepared to face the truth about what Morinj was during the bloody war.

Established in 2002, the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation. Its vision is one of Montenegro as a democratic society of responsible citizens, while its mission is to contribute to the development of civil society and encourage the participation of citizens in policy-shaping and decision-making through the education of actors in the fields of democracy, human rights and European integration.


Source: Documenta - Center for Dealing with the Past, Croatia

War stories are often complex and surprising, in that they can capture not only moments of extreme cruelty, but also examples of unexpected kindness. Milena Perčin's story captures both. A Croat nurse who remained in the Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina throughout the war, she fled from the area together with its Serb population after the Croatian military’s Operation Storm. Her son, a soldier in the Croatian Army, was killed during the war, but her Serb neighbours protected her from possible retaliation in Serb-dominated Krajina. Perčin’s is a story of humanity in wartime, a story about people of different ethnicities who protected each other while their communities were in conflict, and who returned to their homes after the end of the conflict and moved on with their lives.

Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past is based in Zagreb. It was established in 2004 in an attempt to deepen public dialogue on dealing with the past by contributing to the documentation of historical events, developing educational policies, commemorating culture, advocating a compensation policy and advancing judicial practices and legal standards as a result of continuing monitoring of war crimes trials.

Source: Forum Civil Peace Service (forumZFD| Forum ZivilerFriedensdienst), Serbia

SBX Brezovica allows people to behave differently from what is expected of them, and sometime even required from them in their violent society. Given the daily politics, one might think a friendship among young Serbs and Kosovars is impossible. But young snowboarders offer a different path, a possibility for youth like them to live side by side and form friendships.

The Forum Civil Peace Service (forumZFD| Forum ZivilerFriedensdienst) is a German organisation that was established in 1996. It trains and deploys peace experts to regions in conflict, where they work together with local partners to promote peaceful co-existence and non-violent conflict resolution.

S. K.
Source: Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The story of S.K., a victim of the war and a former camp inmate who became a nationalist after the end of the conflict. His transformation into a nationalist can be understood if the suffering he endured is taken into account. But once this victim recognises that nationalism is not the right choice for him; when he decides to fight against it and to confront other nationalists whose views he agreed with not long ago, his extraordinary story becomes worthy of a film.

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Republika Srpska was founded in May 1996 by a group of independent intellectuals, as a citizens’ reaction to violent and systematic human-rights violations. It is an independent, non-profit organisation of citizens that has undertaken a series of activities directed toward promoting and protecting of human rights, with a focus on educating citizens about the basic humanistic and cultural values that underlie human rights, including the field of transitional justice.

Source: The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH), Bosnia and Herzegovina

Baljevine – an exceptional story about a village that rejected war, a village where Serbs and Bosniaks protected each other during the conflict. When Croat soldiers attacked the village, Serbs and Bosniaks fled their homes. But they returned after the war and today they raise their voices in protest, saying that a village like theirs does not fit anyone’s political agenda in today's Bosnia and Herzegovina because it shows that co-existence after a bloody war is not only possible, but that it is probably the only right choice.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) is a non-governmental media organisation based in Sarajevo that specialises in monitoring and reporting on war crimes trials. Since its formation in January, 2005, BIRN BiH has been actively analysing and informing the public about the work of the war crimes chambers at state and local courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Source: The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH), Bosnia and Herzegovina

Three stories from hell. That women were raped during the war is a well-known fact, but unfortunately one that no one really talks about. Over time, the horrors women suffered and the impact the experience had on them becomes taboo; they are shunned by the public and their painful experiences are never openly discussed. Three women involved in this project decided to speak out on behalf of all other victims in order to show that they live among us, and demonstrate how little understanding there is for their continued suffering. But they also want to show that they will not give up, that they want to take from life what little it has to offer.

Source: The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH), Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ramiz Nukić's story is perhaps one of the most painful confrontations with the consequences of crimes committed during the war. For years, Nukić has spent his days walking through the woods in search of the bones of people killed during the war. Every shot of a possible movie about him, every minute of it, would be a confrontation with the evidence of inhumanity.

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