Ines Tanovic on Her Sarajevo Opening Film ‘The Son,’ and Her Next Project

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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Great Outdoor documentary series about

    Farm to Picture: Documentary Series 'The Great Outdoor' Chronicles a Life Gone to Pot

    Cannabis cultivation in the Emerald Triangle, the area in Northern California that has long been a go-to for growers, has a starring role in a new documentary series called “The Great Outdoor.” Funded by Flow Kana, one of the state’s leading cannabis flower brands, filmed by David Zlutnick, and executive-produced by Flow Kana co-founder Flavia [...]

  • 1982 El Gouna Festival

    Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival Puts Arab Helmers at Center Stage

    The upbeat state of Arab cinema will be on the screen and in the balmy air at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival (Sept. 19-27), which is steadily gaining traction in its stated ambition to become a key platform and solid driver for Middle-East producers. “This year was one the best for Arab cinema,” says Intishal [...]

  • Star Skipper Paramount Animation

    Meet Star Skipper, Paramount Animation's Magical New Trademark Logo Character

    Studio logos are powerful signals to audiences.  Multiple generations of moviegoers flipping through channels or scanning streaming titles have frozen at the sight of a desk lamp hopping across the screen, because it means a Pixar movie is about to play. Likewise, when a young boy lounging inside a crescent moon casts his fishing line into [...]

  • Sybil

    Cannes Competition Movie 'Sibyl' Finds North American Home With Music Box (EXCLUSIVE)

    Music Box Films has acquired the U.S. and Canadian rights to Justine Triet’s darkly comic drama “Sibyl,” which competed at Cannes and had its North American premiere at Toronto in the Special Presentation section. Represented in international markets by mk2, the film follows the ambiguous relationship between Sibyl, a jaded psychotherapist (Virginie Efira, “An Impossible [...]

  • Kent Jones Directs 'Diane'

    Kent Jones to Exit New York Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

    In a surprise move, New York Film Festival’s director and selection committee chair of seven years Kent Jones will step down following this year’s 57th edition, which runs Sept. 27-Oct. 13. The departure comes as Jones’ feature filmmaking career is taking off. Issues of potential conflicts of interest have arisen as his work has moved [...]

  • Ava-Mark-Split

    Ava DuVernay, Mark Ruffalo Selected for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Honors

    Ava DuVernay and Mark Ruffalo have been selected by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for its fourth Annual Patron of the Artists Awards. The awards will be presented on Nov. 7 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The show benefits the nonprofit SAG-AFTRA Foundation and is not televised. Previous SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content