The Film

October 15, 2015

MARIBOR MU

MostarUnited_poster small

Synopsis

Mensud fought in the Bosnian war, defending his hometown Mostar and the

Old Bridge. Now that peace has returned and the Old Bridge has been

rebuilt, Mensud is fighting once again, this time against the new

nationalist mentality.

Torn apart and enraged by ethnical conflict, Mostar is more like two

“ghettos” divided by a big boulevard, than the joyful Montmartre of the

Balkans that it  was before the war. From the pitch of the Velez

football school, the legendary team of Mostar, Mensud teaches an army

of kids the value of friendship and unity. His son, Dzenan,

one of his players, cannot stand this struggle any longer.

He dreams of playing for a major European team

and living in a safe environment.

mensud e adnan

CREDITS

Director: Claudia Tosi

Executive producer: Elena Filippini, Stefano Tealdi

Producer: Edoardo Fracchia

Co-producer: Petra Seliskar

Photography: Brand Ferro

Editing: Rasmus Høgdall Mølgaard

Assistant director: Nenad Orucevic

Sound design: Vladimir Rakic

Music composer: Daniele Rossi

Music performed by Like a shadow

A Stefilm production

In co-production with Petra Pan Film Production and Multicanal Iberia s.l.u

In association with

Lichtpunt, YLE FST, NRK, RTV BiH Bosnia-Erzegovina, RTV Slovenija, TSI

With the support of Slovenian Film Fund, Piemonte Doc Film Fund

Fondo Regionale per il Documentario  , Regione piemonteregione piemonte mole

Provincia di Modena, Assemblea Legislativa Regione Emilia-Romagna  logo assemblea legislativa s

regione emilia , UISP-Peacegames per Adottalapace, Movimenta  logo_movimenta

Developed and distributed with the support of MEDIA Programme (UE)

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a blog by Claudia Tosi

September 1, 2012

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Contacts: info@movimenta.net

Claudia Tosi CV

October 15, 2015

Claudia Tosi was born in July 18, 1970, in berlinale_CLAUDIA_TOSI2872_lightModena, Italy.

She has studied at the University of Bologna, as a Philosophy major.

She has started working as director in 1998, realizing TV programs and commercials. She has worked as a creative documentary

filmmaker and producer since 2003 and established Movimenta in 2004. Claudia has attended EAVE in 2011 (with the project “The perfect circle”), EURODOC in 2012 (with the project “A Country for women”), IDFA summer Lab in 2014 and Berlinale Talents (Doc Station) in 2015.

MAJOR FILMOGRAPHY:

2015- The perfect circle, 55’ and 75’, Italy-Slo-NL-UK, produced by Movimenta in co-prod with Miafilm, Cobos Films and Petra Pan Film Production.

2009 – Mostar United, 55’ and 75’, Italy-Slovenjia, produced by Stefilm; co-produced by Petra Pan Film Production; co-produced by CHELLO MULTICANAL; YLE, LICHTPUNT, NRK, TSI, TV BOSNIA, RTV SLOVENJA; Best documentary at DOKMA-Slovenjia 2009; 2nd Prize of the Audience at Trieste film Festival 2009; nominee for PRIX EUROPA 2009; in competition at IDFA; selected for Sarajevo Film Festival 2009;

2007 – Building the Winter Games, 3×46’ Stefilm International for Discovery Channel Europe

2004 – Private fragments of Bosnia, 52’, Italy, produced by Movimenta,

Best Documentary at Genova film Festival 2004, Best Documentary at Mediterraneo Video Festival 2005, Selected for IDFA 2004, Selected for “Festival dei Popoli”, Firenze 2004, selected for One world – Human rights festival, Prague and broadcasted by TSI

(Switzerland) and YLE (Finland).

The backstage

October 26, 2012

#1 – The beginning.

For a slow person like me, the making of a film takes so long that while making it the crew becomes a family. The boundary between work and life is not so clear and you end the production as a different person than you were at the beginning. Under an emotional point of view it’s very demanding and exhausting, but everyday I bring home a memory, something that makes that day special. I am terrified by having days, which are all the same and fade because there is nothing  or nobody to remember. “Mostar United” is five years of life of a handful of people that have chosen each other at the first sight and that have always some magic around when they’re together. In 2003, I saw Edoardo Fracchia, an Italian producer, moderating a match making in Bardonecchia and I thought: “I want him!”. Then he sent me to Mostar to meet my “pen friend” and experience the city. After months of researches about Velez on the web and chats with a young, talented, incredibly smart and ironical student in cinema from Mostar, but living in “Mordor” (Norway), finally I got to know him. He met me at Kafana Velez, in Mostar, on u. Marsala Tita, and saved me while I was desperately trying to interview the Velez physiotherapist through body language, because he didn’t get my English and I couldn’t catch anything of his Bosnian. The boy arrived in his heavy metal, black shirt and jeans. As he entered I asked him to sit down with the guy and talk with him. I guess my desperation was impressive because Neso, the saver, did it without protesting. When I think of that meeting, I remember the feeling of having known him forever. I trusted him without any doubt. That was the beginning of five years of work together. He was there the very first day when everything started and left us the very last day after we celebrated the end of the editing. I still have the regret I didn’t put in the credits what he asked me for.

“Neso, is it ok if I put you in the credit as an Assistant Director?” and he:”I prefer to be called The Master of Universe or at least The Shah of Southern Jamahiria of Mostar. If you can’t put that, then I don’t have any choice but to be satisfied with the assistant director title”.

#2- The crew and the co-production.

In 2004, Edoardo and I attended Documentary in Europe at Bardonecchia to pitch the film, at that time provisionally called “The Mostar derby”. Few minutes before entering (late!) the meeting room where our colleagues where already working with Paul Pauwels, we were discussing about our trailer.

-“Eddie, we have a problem. The subtitles are a bit pushy. What happens if they realize that we have pushed some translations?”.

-“Claudia, do you really think somebody in that room will understand Bosnian?”

His question made sense. I was probably worrying too much. We ran into the room, sat down at our seats and…guess who were sitting in front of us? Petra Seliskar from Slovenia and Brand Ferro from Macedonia.

-“Edoardo, we are fucked. We need to have them on our side!”

There was no time to introduce to each other and establish a sort of “please be gentle to us, don’t screw us” because our trailer was the first one to be shown. I was very nervous. But, our colleagues from the magic world of former Yugo where laughing from the beginning until the end of the trailer, enjoying it so much that I was touched. Petra explained me that, actually, it is almost impossible to translate Bosnian literally. They are too creative, too crazy to be caged in an English subtitle and the more you push, the more you are close to the real meaning. It was my second lesson about the Balkan. The first one? I will tell you at the end. Anyway, that day something was starting. Beer after beer, Brand, Petra, Edoardo and I were becoming something. Sitting at the movie theatre, while attending a Case Study, Petra said:

-“You know what Claudia?! We really like your project and Brand would love to shoot it”.

I would have been honoured to have such a great DoP on board, but I had started it with a friend of mine and I didn’t know what to do. Few months later my friend had an accident with his motorbike and he was on a coma for a while. Now he’s fine, but at that time the fate decided and Brand became the DoP of “The Mostar Challenge”… yeah, the provisional title was changed during the workshop to put football a bit aside. We might say that at Bardonecchia, in 2004, Edoardo and I established ourselves as “the dynamic duo from Italy” and an Italian-Slovenian co-production was established. But also a Macedonian-Slovenian co-production was establishing, because few months later Petra got pregnant.

Why did you decide to shoot this movie, any previous experience with BiH subjects?

  • “Mostar United” is my second film in BiH and I consider it a sort of sequel of my previous one “Private fragments of Bosnia”. Everything happened because of my best friend, Svjetlana, a girl from Mostar who escaped when the war broke out and spent a couple of months in Italy, near my village, where we have met because of common friends. Now she’s in the USA with her husband. Since ’92 we had been talking about her eventual coming back home. She used to tell me wonderful stories about pre-war Mostar and I totally fell in love with her town. I finally decided to go and visit it. Nothing to do with what I imagined from her stories. Streets were empty and ruins were everywhere. There was an atmosphere of nothingness. I went many times, with my camera and shot a 12 hours of footage. I visited her family and all the places she used to love and mention in her stories. I made a film out of that footage, “Private fragments of Bosnia”. It was not meant to be a film for a distribution or festivals. It was a personal project for family purposes. I only wanted to convince her to visit home and overcome her fears. She actually went back for visiting the family, but the city she walked through was a completely different one. Not because of the ruins and the new street names, but because of that feeling of togetherness and joy that was gone. I couldn’t believe the beautiful town I had fallen in love with, because of her tales, was gone forever. Something had to be still there. I wanted to make a film about old Mostar and its values, its atmospheres, in order to understand if that past could come back or be an inspiration for the future. This is how “Mostar United” was born.

How come you decided to use the ‘sports’ as a backbone for a story about people and nationalism in the post-war Balkans?

  • When I told to my friend Svjetlana that I wanted to make a film about what was left of the “old” Mostar, united and anti-nationalist, I asked her where to search. She suggested me to check what was left of Velez, the city football team, a symbol of Mostar anti-nationalism since 1922. Of course, being far for so long, she didn’t know anything about what was happened to the team after the war broke out. “Mostar in my heart, Velez until the grave”, she quoted the motto.  Searching on Internet, I realized that the football story of Mostar was a metaphor of the history of the town. Before the war one team, FK Velez, was representing the whole town. In ’92 the Croatian Sport Klub Zrinijski was refunded and since then the town is like under siege during the city derbies. The football environment reflects the divisions of Mostar’s community, but also the attempt to reunite it. On the youth level, both teams are working hard to get the kids to know each other. Football has become the backbone of the film because it allowed me to face both the good and the bad of the post-war situation. I choose football and I turned the film into a father-son story also because I didn’t want to make a film about politics, even if I am aware that everything we do is a political choice. I wanted to keep the conflict on an emotional level, without political statements, analysis or judgment. I was trying to tell a story that could express the feelings of a community of survivors. Once I was told: “If you are looking for the heart of a Bosnian, look on a football field”.  This is what I did.

Is it the fact that people now have different uniforms to continue the war with different means –the ‘sports uniforms’ replaced ‘army uniforms’…?

  • The insanity that happens in Mostar during the derbies happens everywhere, also in Italy. Of course our recent history is different, but in Rome or in Milano or in Catania there are a lot of people who think they have good reasons to hate and beat “the others”. There are wars everywhere people don’t accept to be different and live on the same ground. On the terraces amongst thousands people it’s easy to behave like an enraged beast, accusing “the others” to be the cause of our problems. Propaganda always counts on this. These people don’t love sport, they don’t even watch the match and it’s not a “sport uniform” what they wear, they are just enraged and racist persons searching for a big audience.

How long did you shoot it, what was the process, how did you contact all the main ‘characters’, find the story, how long dig you live in Mostar…?

  • After my friend suggested me to search in the Velez environment, I surfed the net to find information. I met a very smart young student in cinema living in Norway since ’92 but deeply Mostarian, Nenad Orucevic, Neso. At the beginning he was helping me with information, then he became my assistant.  He was a member of “Red Army”, the supporters of Velez. Many times Neso and I have met in Mostar looking for the characters. The FK Velez was very happy about my idea and they were friendly and open to me, even though accepting to be always followed by a camera was another story. They also didn’t know me. Neso did a great job and convinced the community and his friends to trust me. Mensud, who was an excellent candidate because of his engagement with kids, his job as a Manager of Tourism and his strong belief in anti-nationalism, was really brave and accepted to have a crew always behind his back and in his private life. “I have nothing to hide” he used to say “and nothing to envy to Mel Gibson!”, so he was a great character and a generous and good friend. At that point I had the character, a plot but I didn’t have a crew, yet. In 2004, during a documentary forum I met Petra Seliskar, who later became the Slovenian co-producer of Mostar United, and her boyfriend Brand Ferro, an award winning and experienced Makedonian cinematographer who loved the project and was happy to jump in. It was the beginning of a great friendship. From 2004, every year, twice a year, we used to spend 10-15 days in Mostar to shoot. During the research I had an idea of when things could happen and Neso, my assistant, who went back to live in Mostar, used to keep me informed about the situation. From 2004 to 2008 we shot 100 hours of tapes, attended 7 derbies (youth and main teams), drank a huge amount of beers but above all we spent 4 years with people that I consider part of my family, now. The boundaries between work and life were totally erased. While the years were passing by, Mensud’s son, Dzenan, was growing up and he was becoming a mature young man with his own idea about the world. The story became a father-son story and reflected the conflict between old and new generations, their values and different expectations. After losing his “old” beloved Mostar, Mensud was teaching an army of kids how to rebuild it, even if what they saw in football was not the chance to rebuilt values but to leave the Country. Once again the father might face a loss once again.  “Should I stay or should I go” is a stereotype in the Balkan post-war literature and cinema and in young minds living in Countries where there are not many opportunities. Italy is not much different.  I think, all together, we have spent about 5 months in Mostar and 5 years constantly thinking of Mostar and feeding my precious friendship with Neso, Mensud’s family and other friends. Now that I haven’t much time to go there, I miss it. I miss the peaceful and lazy atmosphere in old town, the perfumes, the colors. I have learned a lot about human relationships in Mostar and also about time. Time for friends is precious. Kairos wins over Kronos.

Were you ever in other ex-war zones?

  • During the making of my first film “Private fragments of Bosnia” I have traveled all around Bosnia and Herzegovina and did some stupid things like walking on a mine land in Srpska Republic. I went several times to Sarajevo, to Knin, Banja Luka and traveled through many villages but I was never able to have a personal relationship with people. I am not attracted by “war tourism”, by ruins and butted walls. The war is over. I am interested in people, how to build a better future here or in Bosnia or anywhere in the world.

What were the reactions during and after the premiere of the movie in Mostar? Any problems?

  • The premiere in Mostar was very exciting, touching and intense. I was very nervous and I couldn’t imagine how they would react. In 5 years you can learn a lot of things but you can’t become a domestic, so I was afraid that the film could unconsciously hurt somebody. My friends from Mostar were optimistic, but I was worried anyway. The Club of Veterans was turned for the event into an open air cinema: 200 seats, 2 bars, the fridges full of beers, the nearby Neretva refreshing the hot atmosphere. 500 people attended the screening during a wonderful Mostarian summer night. I felt a strong sense of belonging. My friend Svjetlana came from LA to join me and it was our first time together in her town.  It was like sitting in somebody’s living room watching a family movie. People laughed or were silent, but they just didn’t miss one frame. It was immense beauty what I was experiencing. The warm applause at the end was followed by murmurs. «How come is Velez winning only one match?!». We actually feared much more critical reviews from the audience, but Mostarians liked the film and the next day Mensud received many compliments from people. His friends were very proud of him. I was incredibly happy. Dzenan was happy, too, except that now everybody was calling him “Brad Pitt”. After the screening we celebrated with beers and grilled Blizva. I will never forget that night.

Did you screen it on ‘both sides’ of the city?

  • The Mostar Premiere was in Old town and was organized by Red Army, the supporters of Velez.

In the beginning the coach say to the kids: “you’re not a normal generation” – I guess that was one of the premises, you can’t be “normal” after the war… do you see any hope for generation raised by hate?

  • In that scene, Mensud was disappointed because the kids were not close to each other and didn’t behave like friends on the field. For him normality means to feel part of the community and help your friends even if this means to risk your own life. What is not normal in this generation, in Mensud’s opinion, is the lack of sense of friendship and of belonging to each other, which can be for sure an effect of war traumas, but that I can see also in youngsters in my Country.  History of the XX Century has taught us that social and ethical achievements of our societies are not granted to stay forever. It’s an everyday battle for rights, equality, respect what we have to fight for. If we don’t engage to improve our societies and lead them to social peace, what is life worth of? So, my answer is “Yes”, there is hope for kids of Mostar and it’s in their hands.

I guess some Croatian (especially Bosnian-Croatians) viewers would call this documentary pretty one sided… your comment?

  • Many Bosnian-Croatians watched the film and they liked it. They reflected themselves in Mensud’s fight. Even the newspaper of the “Croatian side” of Mostar wrote a kind review about the film. I am on the side of people who fight against nationalism or fascism in Mostar, like in Spain or Italy or Niger or Germany. I don’t consider Mostar divided between Bosniaks and Croatians, but between anti-nationalists and nationalists and they can be Bosniaks or Croatians or Serbians. Franjo, a Bosnian-croatian, a trainer of Zrinjski speaks clearly in the film about helping the kids to get to know each other to become friends. He’s a wise man, well respected all over the town and he works with Mensud to erase conflicts. If the “one side” of the question is “being anti-racist and anti-nationalist” my answer is “yes”, the film is one-sided. But when it comes to nationalities, I am not on “one” side. I have friends from any of them and nationality means nothing to me. Religion even less.

Why didn’t you choose also a Croatian character and shoot also in the Croatian side, to make the film more objective?

  •  When I got the idea of this film, I didn’t want to tell “my” truth about Mostar.  I was not interested in a political analysis or a reportage. In both “sides” there are people who dream of old unity. I wanted to tell a story about what was left of the old Mostar and how it could effect present and future. Velez had fascinated me. Its ancient glory and nowadays troubles were very symbolic. My main characters are a father and a son and I followed them in their everyday life. There was no dramaturgical reason to interview people in the streets to make a “politically correct” film that could be perceived as “objective”. This was not that kind of film.

Press

April 20, 2010

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http://www.osservatoriobalcani.org/article/articleview/11420/1/152/


Until the next resurrection

October 29, 2009

Berlin. 17th-24th of October. Prix Europa 2009. Around 40 delegates have watched and judged 33 tv documentary films, in a room without windows, during 6 days, from 9 am to 7pm.

While outside it was mostly sunny.

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Edoardo (my producer) and I are amongst them. We are in charge to award the Best Television Documentary Programme of the Year 2009 (PRIX EUROPA) and the Best Regional, Local or Low-Budget 
Television Documentary of the Year 2009 (SPECIAL PRIX EUROPA). Almost the all of us have a film in one of the two competitions. We come from all Europe: Germany, Italy, Bulgary, Belarus, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Ukraina, Lithuania, Belgium, Switzerland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia.  The discussions are lead by “the master” Paul Watson, pluri-awarded filmaker from England.

metro jury pan

We took our job so seriously that after 2 days we’ve had the first victim. The Ukrainian team didn’t appreciate the bloody criticism on their film and they left the festival. This was good for me and for people who had to screen their films in the following days, because discussions became softer and more peacefull. But expectations were higher and higher everyday and there was some feeling of unbearableness  when the umpteenth little boat opened the umpteenth almost silent eastern film shot in the wild countryside of the former CCCP.

jry pan 03

To cut the story short, the winner is:

Chemo by Pawel Lozinsk (PRIX EUROPA) POLAND

Until the Next Resurrection by  Oleg Morozov (SPECIAL PRIX EUROPA) RUSSIA

Chemo.It’s an one hour film built on a strong concept. A chain of close ups on people having their chemo treatments in a Day Hospital ward. Young and old people sharing their humanity and talking about everyday’s life. We smile while a young boy tells about his  wedding, but the smile goes away when we know that he can’t buy his suit untill he doesn’t stop loosing weight. We laugh when two oldies discuss if the comunistic era was good times or bad times. Is it better to be free and starve or have no freedom but have food and job? Chemo is a portrait of Poland seen from a Day Hospital ward. Irony, humanity and beauty. But death is around the corner and laughs have a bitter taste. There’s an oniric dimension that is broken by the last frame, a wide shot, the only one, on the corridor that leads outside. And suddenly we realize that we might meet them everyday on the train, on the metro or in a bar. Life seems so fragile and death is so real.

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Paul Watson and Pawel Lozinsk

Until the Next Resurrection. Some countrymen from some forgotten russian countryside are talking in a hut. Drinking, smoking and talking. I wrote on my notebook: ”I don’t understand anything!!!”. Then the camera goes closer and we are in a car with 2 young and beautiful girls on drugs; then in a sauna with a naked old man and a  naked young woman. They’re having fun. Watching tv, smoking, talking, drinking.  We got to know their bodies well. They’re lovers or maybe she’s a prostitute or it could be that they’re a couple because he’s very gentle and protective with her. There’s nothing morbid.  A couple of captions say that the guy lost his son and the girl his husband. There’s death behind every story. But there’s no sorrow on their face. Fragments of everyday’s life on the edge between death and life in the russian Kaliningrad.  After the first 20 minutes Morozov took me to an unknown state of mind and then I wrote “Fucking powerfull!”. I was totally lost. Apparently, the story has no logical sense but I felt confortably lost and free. Free from the Kingdom of the “storyline”, the apollinean golden cage of sense. Morozov taught me how to tell a life that has no sense. He’s not afraid of a narration which is not logical. Morozov makes of the magnetism of  his characters the glue of the film. We first see the humans and, by the way ,they are prostitutes or drug addicted. They don’t complain, they don’t fight, they don’t leave, they don’t wish anything…maybe to quit taking drugs, but the idea flies away in the bat of an eye. T.S. Eliott might clap on this film. The broken reality reflects itself into the broken film, but everything is fluent like a clear thought. Morozov has total access and takes us into people’s life, into their toilet, while they’re naked and stoned in the sauna or having sex watching outside the window. Every frame is so magnetic and powerful. A masterpiece. Thanks Mr. Morozov wherever you are.

until the nxt

What about Mostar United? We didn’t win anything, but the reactions were great. Our colleagues were very kind and supportive, but also professionally critical. In the short version we screened, they missed the struggle in the everyday’s life, but I think the problem is not there in the long version. And somebody complained that the brutality of nationalism comes too late and it takes 40 minutes to see how hard it could be to live in Mostar. I have to think about it.

What does it mean if Chemo and Until the next resurrection win the PRIX EUROPA, an award for tv programs? In my opinion, it means a lot. It means that the discussion between what is a film for tv and what is a film for the theatre is a sterile discussion. We all want to watch beautiful films, inspiring ones, both when we go to the movie theatre and when we watch tv at home.  Everything which is beautiful is also entertaining, but entertainment can’t be the aim, the goal to achieve. Too sterile, too empty. How can “How many times and how often people go to the toilet or to the fridge to pick up a beer?” be of any inspiration to build a film? Tv is just an empty box. How can it set the rules for storytelling? Let’s fill it up also with masterpieces.

Thanks dear collegues of mine! It was great to get to know you all and watch your films.

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