Bosnian filmmaker Ines Tanovic returns to the Sarajevo Film Fest with this year’s opening film, “The Son.” Her second feature film continues the examination of family that began with her segment in the 2010 omnibus film “Some Other Stories,” about a young man at the end of the Bosnian war who returns to his native Sarajevo a refugee in his own city.
In 2015’s “Our Everyday Life,” which likewise premiered in Sarajevo, the story focuses on an older divorced and weary war veteran who has lost his ideals and finds himself trapped in the status quo.
Tanovic continues the loose story arc in “The Son,” in which the older character, now a father, moves to the background as his son, and a new generation, become the focus of the story. The film examines the challenges of modern-day Sarajevo, a transitional society plagued by drugs, weapons and wrong values. Tanovic spoke to Variety about her latest film, Bosnian-Herzegovinian society and her next project.
What were your inspirations for this story?
I am the mother of two children and as they’ve grown up I have faced many issues related to their upbringing. I was especially inspired by the relationship with my son from my first marriage and the feelings he had because he had a stepfather and a half-sister. Each family has its own tensions when bringing up teenagers, but at one point I asked myself, if it is occasionally so difficult with your own child, how difficult it is to raise an adopted child, because the responsibility is even greater. That’s why I wanted to treat this topic in my own way in the movie.
How would you compare “The Son” to your previous film, “Our Everyday Life,” which also revolved around a family?
In a way, I feel “The Son” is a natural continuation of “Our Everyday Life.” Both stylishly and emotionally I followed the same authorial manuscript. From the omnibus movie “Some Other Stories,” through “Our Everyday Life,” I actually deal with the same family.
Accompanying the same family through three films, my characters are undergoing all the changes that Bosnian-Herzegovinian society has undergone over the past 25 years. We have been changing from the initial euphoria at the end of the war, through the enthusiasm that we would build a better country, to this day’s total disappointment in international society, the politics pursued by our neighbors as well as disappointment in our politicians, who we have persistently chosen all these years. It’s all at a subtle level through my movies.
What made Dino Bajrovic and Hamza Ajdinovic the ideal lead actors for this film?
Although there was a long casting process to find these actors, as soon as I saw Dino and Hamza together, I knew that they were my “sons.” The emotions that Dino and Hamza have simply coincided with what I imagined for my film. As for everything else in the movie, I’m always guided by intuition and I think I could not have chosen better actors.
Did you work on “The Son” with some of the same partners that co-produced “Our Everyday Life”?
I am delighted that we had such good partners who recognized our story. Zdenka Gold was our co-producer on “Our Everyday Life.” I hope that we will also co-produce with the same partners on the next project.
What kinds of projects are you working on at Dokument, the Sarajevo-based company you manage with producer Alem Babic?
We are developing it as a production company. We mostly produce our own projects, but we also co-produced the film “All Alone,” from producer Zdenka Gold and director Bobo Jelcic in 2018.
What are you working on next?
I already have the first version of the script for the new feature “A Rematch.”
It’s a story about friendship, betrayal, corruption, parental love and pain. Mesa lives quietly and with modest means in his family home. Only, his house happens to be at the prime location of a major development site. Everyone around Mesa has moved out, but he is stubbornly refusing to give up his home that he shares with his wife Zlata, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and their autistic daughter Alica. They get by one day at a time. However, a local boss has different plans for them. He wants Mesa’s house because he has promised his Arab investors a clean location and a building permit, and Meša is in his way. He’s a problem that must be taken care of.