This past Thursday evening in Beverly Hills, the South Eastern European Film Festival Los Angeles kicked off events with an Opening Gala at the newly restored Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre.
SEEfest’s official announcer, Hedy Lynn Herdes, NPR Anchor for KPCC’s Midday News, welcomed the packed theatre to the 11th annual celebration. Next came warm salutations from Festival Director Vera Mijojlic and an beautiful speech by Salam Darwza, Producer of ‘Salam Neighbor,’ on the theme for SEEfest 2016: Cinema of Exile.
Also in attendance was the Mayor of Beverly Hills (and part-time William Friedkin look alike) John A. Mirisch. Mayor Mirisch made a speech commemorating the festival for its important work in sharing unique global perspectives and talent, and then capped it off by awarding the South Eastern European Film Festival Los Angeles a Certificate of Merit on behalf of the Beverly Hills City Council.
Headlining SEEfest’s opening night is the film ‘Our Everyday Life,’ Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Oscar Submission for Best Foreign Language Film.
It’s refreshing to find a film with an appreciation for the brick and mortar moments that constitute daily life. The same spaces Neorealists fought to include at the beginning of and at the end of every scene; the places they believed to contain the very presence of god or creation or however you choose to define it.
‘Our Everyday Life,’ written and directed by Ines Tanovic, tells the story of a modern Sarajevan family as they navigate their day-to-day lives. Tanovic doesn’t use the same conventions as say Vittorio de Sica in ‘Bicycle Thieves,’ but instead she finds her own decisive path to capturing small but complex family drama that serves to provide a window into a war torn culture now in recovery.
The film takes carful consideration to how it builds the conflict between family members. Without missing a beat, each scene reveals another aspect of the household dynamic—an absent daughter, a scarred son, a bitter father, and the mother who works tirelessly to hold it all together.
It’s clear each member is masking his or her pain from one another, thinking that by doing so, they save the others in the family from sharing their personal agony. All this leads to a climatic confrontation that you won’t be able tare you eyes away from.
Uliks Fehmiu plays the son, unemployed and newly single, he wakes up in a headache most days from heavy drinking. In the roles of mother and father, veteran Bosnian stage and film thespians Jasna Bery and Emir Hadzihafizbegovic breathe masterful life into every one of their character’s actions. Hadzihafizbegovic is known for his role in ‘These Are The Rules,’ for which he received the Special Orizzonti Award at the 2014 Venice Film Festival.
Beautiful unobtrusive cinematography by Erol Zubcevi captures an intimacy with the Sarajevan neighborhoods. Tanvoic finds with her camera that sometimes the biggest moments in life and cinema don’t need extravagance; that with the right angle and light, allowing things to unfold with a soft touch leaves room to capture the tapestry of details in her characters, both said and unsaid.