Celine Cojocar and Ajla Sahbegovic were concerned about the lack of recognition for the wars in the Balkans as part of European remembrance culture. To address this, they organized a film festival as their Action Project, which aimed to explore the societal effects of the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Ukraine. Despite the loss of hundreds of lives during conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo, the recent war in Ukraine was often referred to as the first war in Europe since World War II.
To address this discrepancy in remembrance, Cojocar and Sahbegovic organized a film festival with the primary objective of raising awareness about the Balkan wars and their relevance to the war in Ukraine. The festival aimed to draw parallels and differences between the conflicts and explore ways in which the international community can learn from past mistakes to support Ukraine in a constructive manner.
The inspiration behind their creation of the film festival stemmed from two contrasting reactions to conflict. On the one hand, she was touched by the show of solidarity from Bosnians toward Ukrainians during the early days of the Ukrainian conflict. However, the international community’s response to the Balkan wars was disappointing, with many countries remaining neutral and the reconstruction and reconciliation efforts in the region still ongoing. The team behind the festival sought to draw attention to these past mistakes and generate discussion on how the international community can better support Ukraine in its current situation. The festival aimed to explore various aspects of the Balkan wars, including wartime sexual violence, war crimes, genocide, community-building, and reconstruction, and to use this knowledge to inspire positive action toward achieving transitional justice.
The festival aimed to explore various aspects of the Balkan wars, including wartime sexual violence, war crimes, genocide, community-building, and reconstruction, and to use this knowledge to inspire positive action toward achieving transitional justice.
Behind the Scenes
In developing their project, they first identified their goals and objectives. They then searched for films that would align with these goals and help to showcase the issues they wanted to address. After selecting the films, they began to seek funding for the project. Cojocar and Sahbegovic discovered that the search for funding was more difficult than anticipated due to their lack of prior experience in this area. Fortunately, they connected with the European Academy Berlin, which supported securing the necessary funding and acted as an organization to receive the funds. With funding secured, the team began organizing the venue and reaching out to potential panelists. They also worked on obtaining the necessary film rights to ensure a successful event.
The project left a lasting impression on Cojocar and Sahbegovic. They fondly remember the weekends of events, where the team had to moderate discussions in front of an engaged and interested audience. Meeting with panelists from diverse backgrounds and getting to know them as individuals personally made it all the more impacting.
Cojocar and Sahbegovic are planning their next project following the success of their film festival. They will be publishing an essay collection on the topic of women in European wars, building on the inspiring panel discussions that took place during the festival. If interested, do not hesitate to reach out with advice on publishing houses or ideas for funding. They are always welcome!