Smrt u Sarajevu (Death in Sarajevo)
Sarajevo has been the site of many important assassinations and massacres in recent history, and this film wants to know: who were the biggest victims? Europe, the Serbs, the Bosnians, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, his assassin Gavrilo Princip or his descendant who wants to repeat history? History hangs heavily over this intriguing complicated drama as each character plays an intricate role in a larger game of cause and effect, whether they know it or not.
The myriad action takes place in the aptly named Hotel Europa, which has seen better days. Its despotic manager, Omer, struggles to save it from the brink of disaster, caught between the workers who are planning a strike, the drug smugglers who put the vice on the workers, and the EU officials set to attend a commemorative dinner in the hotel. Meanwhile, on the rooftop, a TV journalist investigates how Gavrilo Princip’s image has changed from assassin to hero and back again with different intellectuals.
The audience is exposed to the hysterical whirlwind of Bosnian history, and the lesson is taught with disparate points of view represented vigorously. However, Tanovic always brings the story back to the personal and the universal through the characters who work in the kitchen, the bar and the basement. The hotel seems to be a cross section of Bosnian society and all of it’s complexities.
The camera never lets you catch your breath as it chases characters down corridors; it drops one and jumps on another seamlessly. Every one has something to gain and lose, and pleads their case with conviction and passion. The dialogue is perfectly tailored to the high-brow pontificating intellectuals on the rooftop and the workers in the kitchen fighting for fair pay. Every action has an even bigger counter-action and it’s enthralling to watch the cause and effect snowball into an avalanche. Tanovic laboriously builds a choral drama where the voices clash and contradict each other to articulate a frustration with a country being pulled in ten different directions that might never be reconciled.
Smrt u Sarajevu (Death in Sarajevo) does not yet have an official UK release date.
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