The Balkans have a complex history of conflicting cultures and religions due to its location at the crossroads of numerous historical empires, such as the Venetian, Hapsburg, and Ottoman empires. This and the breakup of Yugoslavia provided the framework for the Bosnian conflict that lasted from 1992 to 1995.
For many films from the former Yugoslavia, the Bosnian war is the central theme.
The events and following impacts of the Balkan wars offer numerous perspectives and anecdotes of what was happening in Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo during the time of the conflict.
The Balkans Film History
Filmmaking has a long tradition in the Balkans, particularly in Serbia. Second only to the United Kingdom, Yugoslavia was the most common location for foreign-shot Hollywood films between 1960 and 1970. During the Bosnian wars of the 1990s, the cinema industry was decimated by a generation isolated and preoccupied with its own survival.
Most of the films on this list are about the conflict in Bosnia, which has affected and dominated the lives of the individuals who lived through it for the past 30 years.
The film industry is making a resurgence in the region, so expect to see more movies from this area in the future.
1. No Man’s Land (2001)
When the Bosnian war broke out, two Bosnian troops were stranded in No Man’s Land, a trench between the opposing sides.
It’s impossible for them to rely on anyone, and a fellow soldier is laying in the trench below them with a spring-loaded bomb ready to go off if he moves. Were it not for the seriousness of their predicament, it would be amusing.
At the 2001 Oscars, No Man’s Land was named Best Foreign Film.
2. Welcome to Sarajevo (1997)
based on a true story, Welcome to Sarajevo tells the story of a zany group of TV journalists reporting from war-ravaged Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
When a British journalist investigates a run-down orphanage, he is moved by the condition of its residents. His goal is to smuggle the youngsters out of the country with support from an American humanitarian aid worker.
Another film about the Bosnian conflict that depicts the devastation it has caused to humanity.
3. The Whistleblower (2010)
Based on the true story of a Nebraska police officer who accepts an offer to operate with the United Nations International Police in Bosnia-Herzegovina under the government-contracted private security firm of the United Kingdom, The Whistleblower.
When Kathryn uncovers a large-scale worldwide sexual slavery network, she is shocked (including Americans). She finds out that it was hushed up in order to secure lucrative defense and security contracts when she brings the incident to the UN’s notice.
However, individuals who witnessed the events depicted in this Bosnian war film say they are accurate representations of what really happened at the time. In my opinion, Rachel Weisz is one of the best actresses in the business, and this film was a must-see to grasp the atrocities of this war.
4. In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011)
Angelina Jolie’s debut feature film, In the Land of Blood and Honey, is based on the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s and was shot in the country.
Danijel is a Bosnian Serb soldier fighting in the ruins of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. The son of a cruel Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) general, Neboja, meets Ajla, his ex-girlfriend, in a prison camp run by his father.
Ex-lovers’ lives may be in jeopardy due to Bosnian Serb policies and concealment of their relationship prior to war.
5. Tito and Me (1992)
When conflict broke out in Yugoslavia, Tito and Me was the last feature film to be made there. Just two days into the conflict, filming began. The director, Goran Marcovic, continued filming in spite of the attack.
The movie takes place in the 1950s in Yugoslavia, a socialist country. Zoran, a chubby 10-year-old, lives with his parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles in an overcrowded apartment. Many Yugoslavian homes were confiscated from their owners during Yugoslavia’s communist period as part of the Land Reform Programme. As a child, little Zoran learned in school that Tito was the greatest man of all time, and he idolizes him to this day.
6. Venuto al Mondo (2013)
Another film that explores the ramifications of the Bosnian War stars Penelope Cruz as Venuto al Mondo. Sixteen years after fleeing Sarajevo, Gemma returns to the city with her lone child, Pietro. After Diego stayed behind and died in the battle, Pietro’s father, Pietro, was born.
Gemma tries to mend her relationship with Pietro while on a trip with her wartime buddy Gojco. She is torn about whether or not to tell Pietro that she was not his mother. Pietro’s biological mother, Aska, is still alive and married to Gojco, a fact that stuns Gemma. Despite Gemma’s long-held conviction that Diego was Pietro’s father, Aska confesses that he was not, since she had been a sex slave to the Serb Volunteer Guard garrison during the Second World War.
To live up to the title “Twice Born,” Gemma has to deal with grief, the toll of war, and the healing power of love.
7. Underground (1995)
Underground tells the tale of Yugoslavia from the outbreak of World War II to the most recent atrocities that occurred in the Balkans in the late 1990s……….
“The Greatest Generation” tells the story of this generation’s trials, including World War II and the Cold War, the war in Yugoslavia and Soviet Communism, as well as the treachery of their own leaders. As seen by individuals who have an unbridled devotion to their homeland and culture, the film depicts the truth.
In 1995, Cannes awarded the film the Palme d’Or, the highest honor for a film at the festival.
8. A Wonderful Night in Split (2004)
A Wonderful Night in Split is a black-and-white dramatization of the final minutes of a New Year’s Eve in Split.
While the New Year’s Eve celebrations are taking place in Split, Croatia, three stories take place in the town’s dark and empty streets. This is a fantastic film with exquisitely composed visuals.
9. Grbavica (2006)
Grbavica, a Sarajevo neighborhood, serves as the backdrop for Jasmila Zbanic’s first feature-length film, which explores the effects of the Balkan War on a Bosnian mother and her daughter.
Sara, Esma’s 12-year-old daughter, lives with them in Grbavica, a neighborhood of Sarajevo, Bosnia’s city. Despite the fact that Sara’s father is a war hero, Esma tries to pay the whole amount for the school trip that Sara wants to go on.
10. The Battle of Neretva (1969)
Germany launched its “fourth offensive” against Yugoslav Partisan forces in western Bosnia in January 1943, fearing an Allied invasion of the Balkans. The partisans, who are outnumbered and outgunned, must also strive to protect thousands of refugees.
During World War II, Yul Brynner plays the role of a guerilla leader determined to rid his motherland of all Nazis.
SFR Yugoslavia’s biggest-budget film, Battle of Neretva, was shot in 1992. Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.
Bulaji claims that Picasso agreed to make one of the initial English posters for the film without compensation, just asking for a case of the best Yugoslav wines.