In Bosnian drama series “The Hollow,” a body is found in a museum. As senior inspector Edib Pašić tries to solve the case, he dives deeper and deeper into modern-day Sarajevo. Which hasn’t really changed all that much and keeps protecting its secrets.
“This combination of old and new is something we all carry inside. We are stuck in the past yet experiencing this strange transition in the present,” producer Amra Bakšić Čamo tells Variety. She has co-created the show alongside Danis Tanović, the director of Oscar winner “No Man’s Land.”
Presented in Sarajevo Film Festival’s Avant Premiere Series, “The Hollow” was produced by SCCA/pro.ba for BH Content Lab and BH Telecom.
“If you go to a random bar in Sarajevo right now, they will play 1980s songs. I don’t know where it comes from. Why haven’t we moved on culturally? Also, we are a society that doesn’t solve things. We haven’t solved anything for 30 years, so how do we use this genre? It’s a whodunnit, sure, but it’s also a chronicle of the city.”
The city also influenced the show’s “sunny noir” look, although not in the way its creators initially intended.
“One thing you can’t predict is the weather. What we were going for and what we ended up with wasn’t the same,” she laughs.
“Sarajevo is usually the foggiest town in the winter. It’s this heavy industrial fog, coming from pollution and the fact that we are in a hollow. And this was the sunniest winter in the last 15 years! Luckily, our DP Erol Zubcevic embraced it so beautifully.”
Bakšić Čamo, a self-described “crime buff,” wanted to create an iconic character in Pašić, enlisting the help of “A Perfect Day” actor Feđa Štukan.
“This man cut ties with his past because of the war, but he never started to live in the present. He is stuck. Every single country has some legendary inspector who solves murders, but not Bosnia. We never had that person! I always wanted to introduce him,” she adds. Noting that making the show as local as possible can potentially make it as international as possible.
“The most interesting shows right now are not made with some imaginary western audience in mind. Suddenly, you are spending your Sunday afternoon watching Icelandic, Danish or Polish series. Arthouse films just don’t work in the same way.”
“The Hollow” was directed by Tanović and Aida Begić, who also brought “A Ballad” to this year’s fest. But the collaboration, while interesting, was brought on by tragic events.
“When we shot the majority of the series, Danis’ son was hit by a car. He survived, he is doing well now, but it was very difficult,” says Bakšić Čamo.
“We were approaching the deadline and Danis wanted us to continue. Aida read the script on Monday, we talked on Tuesday and she met the actors on Wednesday. On Thursday, she started directing. I don’t think anyone will be able to tell who shot what. That’s the beauty of doing a series – in arthouse cinema, the directors bring their own voice. Here, you have to find the voice of the series.”
But arthouse is still where she feels most at home, she admits, conflicted about the show’s red-carpet premiere at a film festival.
“As a promotional tool, it’s great. On the other hand, there are things that are made for the big screen and things that are made to be watched with your dog and your husband. It’s beautiful, sure, but is it really the same as watching ‘real cinema’? I am still figuring it all out.”
With the first season clocking in at five episodes and set to premiere in September, there is room for much more, with the duo already writing the second season and hoping to shoot in the spring.
“This particular story ends, but the characters keep on going. We created ‘The Hollow’ as something that could continue. Not for 20 years, it’s not going to be ‘Midsomer Murders,’ but I am hoping for three or four seasons.”