It feels kind of embarrassing to be writing about Sarajevo only from the entertainment point of view. Of course there is so much more to the city than amusement, fun and pleasure. But be it as it is, I always have good time in Sarajevo. Somehow, every time I’m there I enjoy it a lot. Call me trivial, I don’t mind at all.
You might remember Sarajevo from the news back in the 90’s when the horrible siege of the city took place and kept its citizens trapped for far too long. The actual post-war renovations of the city may be slow and partial but it’s the people that form one city’s soul. Sarajevans or Sarajlije, as they’re called locally, are relaxed, modern and proud of their multicultural city. I love to hang out with them. It’s so much fun!
The Sarajevo Film Festival is a real treat. It seems to be a city’s motor of some sort. It feels as if everybody is hardly waiting only for it to begin. The city itself gets spruced up, so do people who on any other occasion make very sartorial outings anyway be it a stroll down Ferhadija, main pedestrianized street, a dinner or party, but during the events of the film festival they get very classy indeed.
Many stars and celebrities come to Sarajevo during the film festival. Oliver Stone and John Cleese were the most widely known ones this year and they both received the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo award for lifetime achievement. There were of course many more.
The most wonderful venue for watching the films is certainly a huge courtyard known among Sarajevans as Metalac. It’s right in the heart of the city, in the vicinity of so called Festival Square, encircled with Austria-Hungarian townhouses. It’s righteously the most popular venue.
Although we certainly love a good film, it’s not (only) films that we come to Sarajevo for during its famous film festival. It’s the city itself, its personality and vibe.
Sarajevans are very much emotionally attached to their city. Even as a total outsider I can nod to their uneasiness about any other city. After Sarajevo many other capitals of the West, particularly the monocultural ones, seem justifiably boring.
Whenever I return home from Sarajevo my head is so filled with encounters and happenings it pushes me into a strange state of void (if there is such a thing). I cannot describe it any other way. Somehow, for a day at least, I feel kind of lost in utter nothingness. Perhaps it’s just exhaustion. There’s only so much partying one can handle after all. And trust me, they certainly know about partying.
Every time I’m there I’m soaked in goings-on, events, good time, meeting people, food, drink yet at the same time everything around somehow loses its edge and significance. Continue reading “Sarajevo Revisited”
When I find myself hungry while at work I’m consequently, more often than not, disappointed by the limited food options on hand. It happens that I simply can’t figure out what I feel like eating anyway. Desperately enough, I’m drawn to reminisce about the outstanding dishes that would’ve been just the thing at that very moment save for the fact they’re unavailable completely.
Say a simple plate of trippa alla fiorentina. It’s considered a redneck dish where I come from and I’ve loved it ever since I was a little girl. Continue reading “Lunch”
The title is a bit of a stretch, I admit. Firstly, Robert De Niro was visiting Sarajevo overnight only. Secondly, I never met him. Thirdly, I admire his acting and his films very much, really, truly, but let’s be honest, I’m whispering now, he’s of a certain age.
Coincidentally, Robert De Niro, one of the world’s greatest actors, and I happened to be at the same event last Friday. He was a guest of honour, of course, whereas I was a mere spectator. I’m talking about 22nd Sarajevo Film Festival, a festival that started during dreadful times of war and evolved into the most influential and eminent film festival in the region.
Robert De Niro was there to open the festival and promote the restored Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and most importantly was awarded the Heart of Sarajevo (what a brilliant name for a prize, don’t you think?) for lifetime achievement. His presence in that city was powerful and meaningful and his thank-you speech at the opening ceremony was nice too. So was the audience at the open-air cinema Metalac. It’s an incredible venue, a courtyard amidst the townhouses (in fact, a high school sports ground), huge, roughly 2000 to 3000 viewers were present, the screen is of king-size XXXL, it felt almost as the Rome’s Colosseum.
“I will treasure this award — my Heart of Sarajevo — because I don’t think there is another city in the world that has shown such heart in the face of so much tragedy,” De Niro said at the ceremony.
Do read the Washington Post’s article on the festival (the above quote is excerpted from it) – it’s filled with all the vital information.
Of his countless performances, the one line I remember most is “I know a thing or two about a thing or two” from … wait, I have to check the title of this movie co-starring young Leonardo Di Caprio …here it is: This Boy’s Life. If you have the stomach for abuse take a look.
Not only was De Niro there, in Sarajevo, the festival is packed with celebrity material: on the second evening Stephen Frears of Dangerous Liaisons, The Queen and Philomena (among others) came to greet the public on stage before the screening of his magnificent Florence Foster Jenkins. He is a regular but he was all the same overcome with the large auditorium.
Sarajevo is the European capital that appeared regularly in the headlines in the 90’s. Unfortunately, this was due to the so-called Balkans’ war following the break-up of Yugoslavia, which led to this city and its inhabitants being tragically under siege for several years (1425 days actually). The reminders of this brutal war are visible throughout the city still. Today, two decades after the conflict ended, the city is as pleasant and welcoming as ever before. That’s at least what I’m told because my first visit to Sarajevo took place only about 10 years ago. So, I’m not in a position to judge the before and after effect. Not that I’d want to anyway. From what I hear I would’ve liked it before the war for sure and I certainly like it now.
What’s not to like?!
Friendly people? Check
For those of you awaiting more on Apulia please be patient. It’s coming up as promised.