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Exile in Sarajevo (1997)

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clip Bridge of brotherhood and unity education content clip 3

Original classification rating: M. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

To the sound a Bosnian vocal group performing, people stream back into Sarajevo at the end of the Bosnian War as United Nations peacekeepers and international media look on. It is an emotional reunion between friends and relatives after a four-year siege.

Curator’s notes

The moving combination of sound and pictures effectively communicates the emotional importance of the moment. Cambis’ strength in this documentary is in giving a face and voice to the Sarajevan people. In this clip, we see families and friends reunited, people carrying flags and people expressing their joy at returning to their city. It is a moment that needs few words, and is prefaced only by a brief introductory statement by narrator Alma Sahbaz.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows Bosnians crossing the Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity to return to Sarajevo, capital city of Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosnia), after the siege of the city ended in 1996. Some people carry what was then the Bosnian flag, some weep, some smile and embrace friends and relatives with whom they are being reunited. One man says 'We’ve waited for this day’ to a friend. United Nations (UN) peacekeepers observe the procession of people, who are filmed and photographed by the media. The film is intercut with footage of a Bosnian vocal group, whose poignant song accompanies the clip.

Educational value points

  • The Bosnian War (1992-95) was an inter-ethnic war between Muslim Bosnians, who made up 44 per cent of the population, Bosnian Croats, who made up 17 per cent, and Bosnian Serbs, who constituted 32 per cent. Yugoslavs and people of mixed Muslim, Serb and Croat ancestry made up the remaining 7 per cent. The number of people who died during the War is disputed, but according to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) the figure is around 102,000. While human rights were violated by all sides during the conflict, the UN and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) believe that the Bosnian Serbs were responsible for the mass killings of Muslims.
  • After the Second World War Bosnia became part of one of the six states of communist Yugoslavia under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980). Yugoslavia consisted of six 'socialist republics’, including Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia, and the provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. Tito’s tight reign kept ethnic tensions in check, but his death in 1980 led to the break-up of Yugoslavia, with Croatia and Slovenia declaring their independence in 1991, and Macedonia and Bosnia in 1992. This was resisted by Serbia and Montenegro, which in 1992 formed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with Slobodan Milosevic (1941-2006) as leader until 2000.
  • Bosnia’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in March 1992 inflamed ethnic tensions and in April 1992 fighting broke out between Bosnian government forces and Bosnian Serb nationalists, who wanted Bosnia to be part of Serbia. Soon after, Bosnian Croatian nationalists, who wished to unite with Croatia rather than remain in a Muslim-dominated state and who formed a temporary anti-Muslim alliance with the Bosnian Serbs, joined the conflict. However, in early 1994 Bosnian Croats and Muslims formed an anti-Serb alliance.
  • In April 1992 Serbian forces, known as Bosnian Serb Republika Srpska (RS), attacked Sarajevo. In the months leading up to the War, the RS with the military support of Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, who controlled the Yugoslavian army, mobilised in the hills around Sarajevo. While the RS had superior weapons, they were outnumbered by the Bosnian forces in the city and were unable to seize Sarajevo. The RS bombarded the city with shells, blocked roads leading into the city and prevented shipments of food and medicine reaching the port. They also cut off supplies of electricity and water.
  • The siege of Sarajevo, which lasted from April 1992 to February 1996, resulted in the deaths of about 12,000 people, including more than 1,000 children. The constant shelling and sniper fire wounded 50,000 people. Sarajevo was hit each day by an average of 327 shells, and much of the city was destroyed. Snipers who came from Serb-controlled neighbourhoods were a constant threat. UN airlifts delivered food and other supplies, and by mid-1993 Bosnian government forces had built the Sarajevo Tunnel, which enabled supplies to enter the city and people to leave it.
  • The Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity was reopened on 29 February 1996, when the siege of Sarajevo officially ended. 'Brotherhood and Unity’ was the slogan under which Tito had unified Yugoslavia in 1945. During the War the Bridge, which divided the government-held parts of the city from Serbian-held Grbarica, was a no-man’s land, used by both sides to exchange people. The reopening of the bridge reunited residents, including relatives, from both sides of the divided city, and enabled those who had fled during the siege to return to their homes.
  • In August 1995, in response to the mounting war atrocities, the USA led NATO bombing strikes against Serbian forces, resulting in a ceasefire. In November 1995 the Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian governments, representing the different sides in the War, agreed to a peace accord known as the Dayton Agreement, which ended the siege of Sarajevo. It divided the country into a Muslim Croat Federation and a Bosnian Serb Republic with a central government that had a rotating presidency. In 1999 Slobodan Milosevic was indicted by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity during the Kosovo War. In 2006 Milosevic was found dead in The Hague, most probably from a heart attack.
  • Australian filmmaker Tahir Camis, whose parents were Bosnian immigrants, went to Bosnia in 1995 to make Exile in Sarajevo because he was concerned that the media were misrepresenting the conflict. He was accompanied by Australian cameraman Roman Baska. Once in Bosnia they teamed up with sound recordist Alma Sahbaz, a resident of Sarajevo whose local knowledge contributed to making the film a moving and highly personal account of how the citizens of Sarajevo coped with siege and war. Exile in Sarajevo received Best Documentary Awards at the St Louis, Newport and Melbourne film festivals, and from the Australian Film Critics Circle.

This clip starts approximately 1 hour 24 minutes into the documentary.

This clip shows Bosnians crossing the Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity to return to Sarajevo, capital city of Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosnia), after the siege of the city ended in 1996. Some carry what was then the Bosnian flag, some weep, some smile and embrace friends and relatives with whom they are being reunited. The film intercut with footage of a Bosnian vocal group, whose poignant song accompanies the clip.

Alma Sahbaz (narrator) The crossing of the bridge of brotherhood and Unity is the last act in the siege of Sarajevo.

Music to end of clip.

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  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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