Ahmed Buric
Ahmed Buric

Ahmed Burić: The Third Sarajevo

During summer, especially when it’s this hot, it isn’t the time to settle accounts. That is why, for the most part, this is the role of cold and heartless Sarajevo winters in which one (seemingly alive) citizen can hardly go shopping or throw garbage. Desolate and lonely is the winter Sarajevo, once an Olympic city. Adjusted to the level of innkeeping all that war plunder, it turns out it couldn’t have gone any better. It turns out that the spirit of this place withstood the iron that fell on him, but he could not bear the consequences of those wounds. Sad. But life is, for the most part, like that.

However, Sarajevo, like any living (old) thing, likes to hear something nice about itself. Such a compliment was uttered in front of about two hundred of us, by Irish musician and activist Paul David Hewson, better known in the world as “The Beautiful Voice”, at the National Theatre. Bono Vox, a man who loves to come to Sarajevo, and who has helped internationalize some of the city’s most difficult moments: this time he and his old friend, German director Wim Wenders came as guests of the Sarajevo Film Festival, from which Wenders received the Honorary Heart, which is, practically, a reward for a lifetime’s work. There aren’t a lot of people in the world who deserve it to that extent. Even if we doubt at least a little the absolute genius of his most famous works. In Sarajevo National Theatre we watched The Million Dollar Hotel, restored in 5k technology: it is, basically, Bono’s story, which tells about a group of homeless people, drug addicts, prostitutes and losers of all kinds, who live in a hotel in Los Angeles, in the neighbourhood in which all the inhabitants are practically similar to them – drug addicts, drunkards, vagrants. At the time of its creation, at the very beginning of the new millennium, the film had catastrophic reviews, it spent twelve times more than it earned, and it was as if they were racing over who would “bury” it more. At least in America. In Europe, he received the Silver Bear in Berlin. Even Mel Gibson, who plays Skinner, an FBI agent with special needs, in the film was strongly opposed to the film. He went even so far to lobby, so the film would not play in theatres in the United States. Probably because he saw how Wenders portrayed him. But not just him. But also, Trump’s, dystopian America, in which the perpetrator of the crime is not important for the investigation, but it is only important that it is recognized, so that the FBI has more “solved” cases on the list.

Some things just show up at the wrong time for their own reception. Had The Million Dollar Hotel come out during Trump’s rule, or when Biden took power, it can almost certainly be argued that it would have been praised as a complex work by the great artist, anticipating social movements and America’s relationship to itself. And the rest of the world. All in all, the film was practically remembered through the soundtrack: an album made by Bono, Edge, Brian Eno, jazzers Bill Frissell and John Hassell and many others, with Lou Reed’s songs and even one lyric by Salman Rushdie, was received much better. Because the main character in the film is an idiot, the FBI agent is also an idiot, the father of the victim is a human pig, the female lead is a prostitute. It is a certain “Festival of Idiots”. And no one likes it when he/she is portrayed that way.

We said that Sarajevo likes to hear nice things about itself. Bono said the following from the stage: “There are two Sarajevo’s – real and magical. The first is what you live every day, and it is real. The other thing is that we, who come here, take with us into the world a mythical Sarajevo. A place of fun and magic that is still for me, the capital of coexistence and diversity. This festival is almost like a connective tissue between those two Sarajevo’s – it unites the visible and the invisible into one image. ”

That Bono is great. A true ace. He knows what to say when someone invites you to a party. Now, it’s the second thing, or the first, the devil knows. Has Sarajevo preserved what he’s talking about? Ever since the beginning of the eighties, when we bought his records Boy and October about fifty metres from the place where he said these words – in “Prosveta’s” bookstore on the corner of Kulović Street, and then through those VHS recordings from Colorado where he marches with a flag, to Joshua Tree with B.B. King – I stopped following them around that time, when they turned to the microwaved disco t rex sound – some magic still revolved around him. Which would also give birth to some immortal songs. They are, one of the greatest ballads ever written. Bono is “master” in these things. He still knows how to notice things, because the difference between (at least) two Sarajevo’s is never so obvious as during the Film Festival.

Sarajevo of violence, corruption, seizure of construction land, rudeness, nationalism and powerlessness is, in some way, in fact, The Million Dollar Hotel. An advertisement for something that once was, and a lack of awareness of the dignity of one’s own existence.

On the other side is the Festival. In which there is everything: a franchise with levers of power and a self-sufficiency that does not tolerate even the most well-intentioned criticism (just remember what happened to my colleague Mirza Skenderagić when he “dared” to write a critique of Concentrate Grandma !?), and provincial exclusivism on red carpets, and whatnot.

But, no matter what, during the Sarajevo Film Festival, those magical nights happen, that light and illuminate the city, so that it could shine with that same brilliance, that Bono Vox was talking about.

Maybe we need a Third Sarajevo: one that is not socialist, and not nationalist.

A city that would shine even when there is no festival. It only makes sense to support it like that. Inside and out.

Prethodna vijest

Almir Bečarević, savjetnik direktora BH Gasa: Gas je poskupio, razliku za sada plaća BH Gas

Naredna vijest

Osnovana Mreža lokalnih vijećnica i odbornica u BiH „Više od kvote“