Dir: Igor Drljača | Doc, Bosnia Herzegovina | 91′
Ranked second in the world for its salt lakes, Bosnia Herzegovina is desperate to re-invent itself after the last century’s tragedy. The result is success – for the most part.
Igor Drljača’s bring a refreshingly comic approach to this cinematic foray into his homeland that doesn’t beat about the bush by being over-talkie but explores with a calm, straightforward narrative the process of regeneration through four war-torn towns. The Stone Speakers plays out as an informative wide screen travelogue showcasing this vast now peaceful forested corner of the world and taking stock of its touristic potential, with concise contextual commentary by the people who have lived through the country’s time of change. Amel Đikoli’s fluid camerawork glides gracefully through a river in Visegrád; a series of long takes reflects luxuriant countryside: tree-covered rolling hillsides and vineyards give way to flowery pastures under the bluest of skies,
Meanwhile, classical churches stand alongside derelict buildings and thriving cityscapes in what emerges as a predominantly Christian country that now attracts a wealth of pilgrims from Ireland to China. There’s Medjugorje, the most famous of the four because it becomes a United Nations of Catholic pilgrims. Said pilgrims sing songs that sound more like they’re from a Protestant youth group. There’s Visegrad, celebrating both the river Drina and the man who wrote about it, Ivo Andric. Tuzla celebrates Josef Tito but ambivalently.There is a tour of the town built in honour of Nobel-winning writer Ivo Andrić. There’s Medjugorje, best known for its Catholic pilgrims. And a monk in full-length regalia also shares his religious thoughts. And although the live speakers often express their experiences and consumer bleats with pent-up anger and plaintiveness, Drljaca maintains his distance, floating over his protagonists with a serene sense of laissez-faire. Let the people have their say but let the facts and images speak for themselves. MT
BERLINALE 2019 | FORUM