Grbavica- Victim of War

dir. Jasmila Zbanic | 2006

A bit of history first. Grbavica is a quarter in the city of Sarajevo. It was occupied by Army of Repulica Srpska during the 1992–95 war. It is one of the important locations of genocide and mass rape that the war is sadly known for. Grbavica is also known for its Sniper Alley- where the Serb snipers occupied high buildings and targeted Sarajevo populace.
The war had adopted Ethic cleansing methods, which is a war crime of higher order, compared to that of Germany against Jews. The war is also considered to be the worst thing that happened to Europe after the world wars in the twentieth century.
What are all the things that a parent has to hide from their children? The dilemma that a mother and daughter face is very clear from the beginning of the cinema. 
Wars cause irreparable damage to economy, political structures, infrastructures, patriotism but most importantly to personal relationships. The relationships getting affected is a very dangerous thing, as the people’s will to live is affected. Their identity gets challenged. The fall-out of such impacts can live for generations. The cinema focuses deeply on the effects of war on relationships of daily life, with historical evidence.

“One day you wake up to find a mother.
And on another, a war victim.
Both are different things.
One is alive.
The other can be a corpse, striving to meet life.”

Wounds are healing 
Life has this impeccable habit of blooming again after disasters. But the memories of the disaster linger on those who suffered through it. When life around them refreshes again trying to outlive the sad memories, the victim has two ways to choose — perish or persist. They can never truly escape their past. A mother persists! 
The entire film is simple. No intentional color spikes. No special editing. No special movements in camera. Actors performing their duty. The cinema is well within the realms of Realism and Sarajevo’s presence adds a sad tone to the film- there is a tension in the air.

The most romantic thing about the cinema is the plot. The screenplay creates and continues a minor tension, even though we always have a clue to what is going to happen next. And the beauty is the plot lies in this simplicity. The film promises nothing to us, much like the characters in it. 
The patriotism brews fresh and a little hope for the future emanates on the faces of children as they consume their past and march towards their future, for Sarajevo; their love.

Originally published at on October 19, 2017.