Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Danis Tanovic with a Bosnian perspective

Born in Bosnia in 1969 Danis Tanovic studied at the University of Sarajevo Music Conservatory and The Academy of Performing Arts, but stopped studies in 1992 because of the siege of Saravejo  He formed a film unit to follow the war action putting out films and news clips.  In 1995 he went back to school, but this time in Brussels.

"No Man's Land" released in 2001 won Cannes for best screen play, an Oscar as best foreign film and over 40 other awards.  I had assumed it was a very violent movie, but in reality it was more satirical about the absurdity of war.  Branko Djuric was the lead. Members of opposing sides are trapped together with a third man laying on a bomb that will explode if he tries to remove himself.  The United Nations forces are tied up in bureaucracy.

From this experience Danis ended up  serving on the jury for the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.

"11'09"01" was a film with 11 directors from 11 countries each given a 11 minute segment to commemorate 9/11.   Different world views, some political.  One that impressed me dealt with the overthrow of Allende (with American help) which also occurred on a September 11th, but over 25 years previously.  There did seem to be some anti-American bias, but most of the small features demonstrated what a shock it was and how people handled it from different corners of the world.  Danis' segment was sympathetic about the American tragedy.  Released in 2002

"L'enfer" (meaning "Hell") was a film he directed that had been written by a Polish duo Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piewsiweicz (famous for the "Red" " White" and "Blue" trilogy) with a French cast.  Not seen, but highly rated.  Released in 2005  Supposed to be part of another trilogy by the Polish writing duo.

"Triage" released in 2009 in English starring  Colin Farell, Paz Vega, Christopher Lee, Kelly O'Reilly  War time photographers go through horrors of war.  Home based in Ireland.  Christopher Lee impressed me the most.  Branko Djuric in the special features claimed he had to learn English in a matter of a few weeks; seems hard to believe, but he does speak several Balkan languages.

Cirkus Columbia" was set just before the outbreak of war in Bosnia and Herzogovina.  There are hints throughout, about the impending disaster, but basically this is a family drama  Released in 2010.  Actors included Predrag Manojiovic, Mira Furlan and Jelena Stupijanin.

An "Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker," was directed and written by Danis.  Set in Bosnia focusing on a family of Roma (gypsies) in a desperate situation.  Released in 2013 and won an award at the Berlin Film Festival.  Not yet accessible for me.

"Tigers" which is still not released although having done well in festivals caught me off guard.  I recognized the name--Emraan Hashmi of Bollywood fame as the lead actor.  It appeared at the Toronto Inernational Film Festival 2014 to good effect.   It portrays the true story of Syad Aamir Raza, a pharmaceutical sales rep who became a whistle blower when he discovered the fatal misuse of his company's product.  He suffered a great deal.  Danis sympathized with the dilemma and realized similar practices are too prevalent.

There is an unreleased documentary "Looking for Europe" 2015.

After living in Paris for a few years Danis now lives with wife and five children in Sarajevo where he teaches film directing at the University of Sarejevo.  Has worked in several countries and languages.  Looking forward to his future movies (plus ones I have not yet seen).

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