Kym Vercoe: During the filming in Višegrad we did not dare say Jasmila´s name

Sarajevo-based Bosnian news site published an interview yesterday with the makers of a new Bosnian film that deals with the sensitive topic of war crimes and sexual violence against women in war and the denial and suppression of these crimes in some parts of the country. The film; FOR THOSE WHO CAN TELL NO TALES takes place in the town of Višegrad in south-eastern Bosnia.Since the Dayton Accords split the country in to two enteties in 1995 Višegrad has been a part of Republika Srpska. During the war in Bosnia the town was the site for some of the worst atrocities of the war. 1.785 people were killed in the town in 1992; some 200 women were raped in the hotel Vilna Vlas which features in the film.  On 4 December 2012 Milan Lukić  was sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)   for the crimes of;  persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds, murder, inhumane acts, cruel treatment and extermination. His cousin Sredoje Lukić was sentenced to 27 years for the crimes of; inhumane acts, cruel treatment; aiding and abetting persecutions, murder, inhumane acts and cruel treatment.

By  2012 -09-26

Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić new film FOR THOSE WHO CAN TELL NO TALES had its European premiere last night at the 61 annual film festival in San Sebastian, Spain. Today the film was shown to reporters with a press conference on which the three screenwriters Kym Vercoe, Zoran Solomun and the director Jasmila Žbanić spoke about the making of this film, which is based on actual events.

According to Žbanić she wanted to make a film that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina twenty years after the conflict. I wanted to do something that showed the situation and the feelings in the society twenty years on. – When I saw Kym´s play on the subject I told myself; this is what I want to say, so I approached her about turning her play into a film. According to Žbanić all the parts in the film some based on actual vents, were played by professional actors such as Kym Vercoe.

The film has a very documentary feel to it; we are talking about real people and real events that took place in Višegrad.  1.785 people were killed in the town in 1992; some 200 women were raped in the hotel Vilna Vlas. The hotel (Vilna Vlas) which features in the film is a real place, it exists. However we wanted to show what people might do today when they discover that something like that took place.

When asked about the “culture of silence” in post-war Višegrad that film deals with Žbanić said that the film crew had a chance to experience that problem at first hand while filming in Višegrad. According to Žbanić; “the film crew did not tell the people in the town what they were filming. – We knew it would be difficult to shoot this in Visegrad. – We were advised by some not to do that. One of our screenwriters, Zoran had to pretend to be a Serbian director shooting a completely different film.”

The star of the film, Australian actress Kym Vercoe said that at no point did the crew consider filming anywere else but Višegrad.

“It´s a small town so we had to reveal some parts of the plot. Specifically, that it was about an Australian turist and her desire to travel to Visegrad and Bosnia and Herzegovina after she had read the novel by Ivo Andric. I am completely convinced that there exists a “culture of silence” in Višegrad.” According to Vercoe the crew was very nervous while filming in Višegrad.

“I have the sense that when it comes to Višegrad , not only is everything that happened “hushed down” but certainly all but forgotten. The silence, the suppression and denial of events that took place there during the war is so profound. Still it was very interesting that during the filming in Višegrad we did not dare say Jasmila´s name out loud. We were told it would be best not to do so. Jasmila is a Muslim name and she is a familiar figure in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Zoran Solomun one of the screenwriters said that; “it´s only thanks to the fact that he does not have a Muslim name that he was allowed talk to the people and try to find out some things about what happened there.” According to Solomun, some of the residents said to him frankly; “You know what Lukic (Milan Lukic) did” “To me personally it was important to see that some of the people in the town were aware of what had taken place right before their eyes” Solomun added.

During the press conference the filmmakers added that they would try to show the film across Bosnia and Hezegovina.

According to Žbanić; “for some the story about Višegrad  is not a welcome one; however we will try to show it anyway. We want to screen the film in Banja Luka but we have yet to hear from the local film distributors there considering that the viewing of my last film was not permitted there.  – Even if we can´t show the film in cinemas, we´ll try to screen it on alternative locations since we want young people to come and see the film and talk about it. For the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina it´s important that others see and feel their pain and to see that which they are not permitted to discuss.”

FOR THOSE THAT CAN TELL NO TALES is included in the Competition Programme  at the festival in San Sebastian and will compete for the Golden Shell and five other awards

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