Sunday 16 February 2014

Pretty Village - film by Kemal Pervanic - races towards final production

White House: notorious torture chamber at Omarska concentration camp
An update from Kemal Pervanic, who is currently fundraising for final production costs for his extraordinary film Pretty Village.  The film tells the harrowing story of the 1992 Kevljani massacre in Bosnia and its continuing effect on people's lives there. Kemal himself is a survivor of the notorious concentration camp, Omarska, where former neighbours and teachers were among his guards.
It's not too late to support him.... here's his fundraising page. Raising money for this film has been a long and tough struggle.

Kemal is an old friend of Bridging Arts. He worked with us on Crimson Harvest (paintings by Bosnian Serb artist Pero Mandic)  and  Srebrenica Now  - photographs marking the tenth anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica in 2005.

Kemal writes about his latest trip to his home village:

 "I just returned from another trip to the Pretty Village. I was there for the New Year. It was very different from the New Year’s celebration which took place on the eve of 1992 when a lot of young people danced and sang. It was very quiet apart from some local Serbs discharging remaining reserves of ammo from the last war. Apart from them it was two kids born in the 21st century who were making all the noise by setting off probably Chinese made fireworks. For a war survivor it was not a welcoming noise either. Kasim and I retired to bed without the customary ‘Happy New Year’ greeting.

"Pretty Village has not seen a happy New Year’s eve since 31 December 1991. The curse of the living is never being able to forget the nightmare they survived. During this trip I made separate visits to Jasmin and his mother Besima. Jasmin gets on with his life. He has a wife and two beautiful kids to look after. He was keen to see the latest film cut. His mother Besima was not so excited. She said she does not want to be reminded of her wartime again. She just passed the 80th birthday mark. Her murdered son Dzevad would celebrate his 53rd birthday, if he was still alive. This makes all the more important, and all the more remarkable, her testimony which we recorded impromptu when we just intended to take a still picture of the few remaining pictures of Dzevad which she keeps displayed in her vitrine.

"I am so pleased now that I felt no guilt when I acted as a filmmaker who tried to seize a moment which invitingly presented itself rather than a boy from the village and a contemporary of her son Jasmin, to ask to film her on camera. Our filming on that January day in 2013, several hours before we had to go and catch our flight back to the UK, has turned to serve many different functions. Most importantly it became her public testimonial and tribute to her murdered son. It became a cry for peace where no mothers want to see their sons murdered in the name of religion, political or economic conquest, or history.

"It was her first, and I believe last, outpouring of grief which continues to serve a great purpose. Through our presence and our camera we provided the acknowledgment that the justice system and politicians constantly fail to address. Our unintended filming that day performed an unforgettable deed. On the evening I visited Besima this time she was radiating with positive energy. Every war story is difficult to listen to, but the story of a bereaved mother forever remains an iconic story of every war. It remains an unfulfilled cry for peace.

"Let’s hope that Bosnia will not witness future filmmakers making a film about another Pretty Village in Bosnia based on its tragic past. Let’s hope that our Pretty Vilage film serves as an inspiration to generations of young people everywhere to uphold the value of peace. Let’s hope that the future of Bosnia does not have to tell new Besima stories.

"The more I work on this film, the more I keep visiting those featured in the film, the more I understand its value and its potential to teach us to always try harder at being better persons. Perhaps then we will hear fewer stories such as Besima’s."

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