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EXILE IN SARAJEVO

Australia, 1997 (MIFF 1997, Australian)

Director: Tahir Cambis, Alma Sahbaz

Multiculturalism under siege. Exile In Sarajevo is a passionate and persona! account of the siege of Sarajevo, from the viewpoint of Bosnian-Australian Tahir Cambis and Sarajevan, Alma Sahbaz.

The directors encapsulate wider tragedies within two unfolding narratives. Nirvana, a talent­ed young dancer, dies after a shelling attack. Her family, unable to come to terms with their loss, are forced to leave Sarajevo as refugees bound for America. Eight year old Amira's illustrated diary is poignant testimony of the murder of fam­ily and friends. Both stories are set within the context of NATO bombing missions, UN Press Conferences and the liberation and reunification of parts of the city under Bosnian-Serb control.

In an ineluctable way, Cambis and Sahbaz the filmmakers becomes Cambis and Sahbaz the subjects. The grief of people around Cambis resonates with his own mother's flight from Sarajevo in the 1950s, forcing him to examine his own cultural inheritance. Anguished, enraged, even funny at times, Exile in Sarajevo is an elegy for a city where Serbs, Bosnians and Croats still live in harmony, ignoring the myth of ethnic hatred.

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