Jasmila Žbanić: Grabvica: The Land of my Dreams (Grabvica)

Grabvica: The Land of my Dreams (Grabvica), Jasmina bani, 87’, Bosnia – Herzegovina / Croatia / Austria / Germany, ZDF 12.2.2009, German dubbed version

Jasmila Žbanić is 17 years old when war breaks out in Sarajevo. She lives close to Grbavica, a neighbourhood she will name her first feature film after in 2006. Esma, a single parent, experiences the hard post-war years in Grbavica with her 12-year-old daughter Sara. She works as a waitress, tries to cope with everyday life until one day Sara needs to provide proof of her father’s “heroic death” and Esma has to confess that this father doesn’t exist. Around 20,000 women were victims of rape during the Bosnian war. “I realised,” the director recalls, “that I was living in a war in which sex was used as part of a war strategy to humiliate women and thereby cause the destruction of an ethnic group.” For Esma, admitting the painful truth is the first step to dealing with the trauma and starting afresh between mother and daughter.

Jasmila Žbanić (*1974) is a well-known Bosnian director, author and producer. She worked as a puppeteer and video artist before making feature films from 2006 onwards. In cooperation with Das kleine Fernsehspiel, she made her debut film Grbavica: The Land of my Dreams (2009), which won the Golden Bear award. Other films with the editorial department include On the Path (2012) and Love Island (2016). Her works have been screened in Berlin, Venice and Rotterdam, and she has received, among others, the European Film Award for Quo Vadis, Aida? (2020).