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A Song For Bosnia and Herzegovina

New Vic Borderlines released the documentary film ‘A Song for Bosnia and Herzegovina’ to raise awareness of the Srebrenica genocide on its 25th anniversary. 

The project was intended to be a drama piece which would have toured communities across Staffordshire, Coventry and Birmingham as part of commemorations this year. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic sadly interfered with this collaboration and made a live performance in 2020 impossible. 

Instead the true words, experiences and testimonies of Bosnian women survivors and artists have been used as the basis for this video, which features a mosaic of art forms to show snapshots of the ordinary, everyday experiences we take for granted – sewing, cooking, childhood – which are disrupted and distorted for these unfortunate individuals because of the actions of perpetrators and inactions of bystanders. These include haunting passages in Bosnian written from the perspective of a nine-year-old girl spoken by the author who was that age at the time of the genocide; the endless names of the murdered boys and men read throughout; and an underscore of a beautiful composition called ‘White Flower’ by musician Elvir Solak. 

Borderlines director Susan Moffat was inspired to start working on the piece after visiting Bosnia in September 2019 as part of the YMCA delegation with charity Remembering Srebrenica. This year she intended to return and reconnect with the Mothers of Srebrenica along with soprano Aida Čorbadžić, choreographer Nadža Pusilo and writer Dževa Avdić to complete the writing of the first draft of the planned performance. 

Borderlines director Susan Moffat said of the film:

“The video includes the voices of people living in Staffordshire, some of whom would have watched the unfolding of the genocide from the safety of their homes on a television screen like I did. Including their voices in speaking the words of the survivors brings them closer to the people whose words they are saying. 

“Also included are photographs of the names of the victims of the genocide that have been written out by hand by local people from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and across the world. The writing of each name by another human being gives dignity to every individual name, sending a message to the relatives of those slaughtered that we acknowledge the genocide, that we reach out to them through writing the names of their loved ones, and that we defy perpetrators’ ambitions to wipe their existence from the world. We are saying to the deniers that we know what they did and we will stand with the community for the truth and justice.

“The video is by no means a completed piece, but the beginning of our process to create a meaningful accessible document-drama, which will be warm and welcoming like the Mothers of Srebrenica. It will take audiences on a journey which will leave them determined to fulfil a promise to bear witnesses, to recognise the mechanisms of hate and to never again be bystanders.”

Watch the video below:

Find out more about the project by reading this in-depth interview with Sue from Al Jazeera here.