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Monday, 21 April 2014

An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker by Danis Tanović, A New Wave film release from 25 April.

Courtesy of New Wave Films

No system is inhumane as long as there are good people among us.Danis Tanović

An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker
Written and directed: Danis Tanović
Cast: Senada Alimanović, Nazif Mujić, Sandra Mujić, Šemsa Mujić
Genre:  film-documentary
Length: 74 min
Original Language: Bosnian with English subtitles
Bosnia and Herzegovina / France / Slovenia
Cert: 12A

Silver Bear: Jury Grand Prix Berlin Film Festival 2013
Silver Bear: Best Actor Nazif Mujić Berlin Film Festival 2013

Sometimes in 2001-2002, I saw a documentary film called Southern Comfort by Kate Davis @ BFI hosting a Q&A with the director. The true story of a female to male transsexual from Georgia, Atlanta. The man was then diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was denied treatment by doctors fearing for their reputation to have a man in their waiting room. A transgender struggle with no chance whatsoever to survive. In the spectrum of the so celebrated new millennium, such a shocking tale existed in a Western society praising itself for being... advanced, developed, emerged! That admirable breathtaking documentary still resonates and its memorable sequences left me with a scraped brain.

The idiocy of stigmatisation and discrimination!

Recently, I was invited by Human Rights Watch Festival via the New Wave Films ladies to see the Première of Danis Tanović’s latest documentary film An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker.
Danis Tanović was born in Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and his feature debut, No Man‘s Land (2001), won awards at Cannes in 2001, an Oscar and a Golden Globe.
He has made more films about war and its consequences since then.
An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker is a documentary about a Roma family re-enacting an episode from their own lives.

Set in a small Roma community far from the urban centres of BosniaHerzegovina, the story unveils the alienation of a couple and their two small daughters. The father Nazif sells iron to a scrapdealer from broken cars that he debones or from metal debris fields nearby, earning at times €70 every now and then. The mother Senada is a housekeeper who looks after their daughters when Nazif is out “on business”. Opulence seems to be a word kept at bay involuntarily. One day, Senada is hanging the clothes she has just hand washed when she suddenly feels an abdomen pain and is losing blood. At hospital, she learns that she is losing the baby and is at risk of septicaemia. In need of an immediate surgery and lacking a stateprovided health insurance card, the couple faces a €500 bill... Despite Nazif begging for help from the hospital staff, Senada is denied treatment and they return home. A marathon is starting when Nazif spends more time searching for metal and getting in touch with NGOs while their electricity gets cut.
They managed to get treatment illegally... eventually. A “banal” episode... but a recurrent one!

Despite the episode being performed by the Roma minority family replaying their own real story, this uncompromising and unsentimental documentary doesn’t lose its grip of social realism near film noir. Danis Tanović and the Mujić-Alimanović family deliver a non dramatised “exhibition” of an oppressed minority suffering discrimination that became a national scandal now a worldwide political conscience.
How do we, earthlings of an “evolved” society contemplate, or at worse endorse, these suffocated screams... an underground genocide?

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