During nearly four years of siege in the 1990s, the city of Sarajevo was shaken by shelling, the roar of armored vehicles and repeated sniper fire.
But in stolen moments, other, more hopeful sounds broke in: music coming from underground clubs and from televisions when the electricity was not interrupted. Songs like“Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “One”. The human need for joy and the liberation of music underpins the documentary. that counts how and the gang took up the cause of Sarajevo. The documentary produced by , Sarah Anthony and Drew Vinton and directed by made its world premiere tonight at the Film Festival.
The film (Berlinale sales title) takes us back to 1992 when Serbia, under the barbaric leadership of President Slobodan Milošević, embarked on a campaign of territorial expansion and ethnic cleansing after the dissolution of Yugoslavia as a state.
“I was prepared for problems,” says the former president. Bill Clinton in a new interview, describing the volatile situation in the Balkans. Another useful historical commentator on the film is CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, who earned her reputation as a war correspondent reporting from Bosnia. She explains why the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a place known for the peaceful coexistence of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, became a target for Milošević’s destruction.
“It was a very bright light, Sarajevo,” Amanpour observes, “and they had to put an end to it.”
After setting the historical scenario, kiss the future it boils down to its true priority: showing how the people of Sarajevo responded to extreme deprivation and the constant threat of death. Like what was seen in the Ukraine last year, the people of Sarajevo needed not only shelter, water and food, but also a respite from the war, if only in brief intervals, and the energy to continue resisting. They found inspiration in music, and in particular in the songs of U2, then the biggest rock band in the world.
“It was like being teleported to another place,” recalls Enes Zlatár, leader of the band Sikter, of what it meant to play and listen to music. “That’s what kept us sane all along.”
In a striking archival piece, Sikter’s drummer, who lost an arm to shelling, is seen furiously beating a kit at a concert, a drumstick taped to the stump of his right arm. That tells you how much music matters.
Enes forcefully recalls: “Our punk rock was our weapon to tell them: ‘Fuck you!’”.
MTV, then the most powerful force in popular music, could be seen on television in Bosnia. We learned that the people of Sarajevo revered U2 for their bombastic music and outspoken stance on political issues. Irish unity’s vibrant “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, written about the worst atrocity in the Northern Ireland conflict when British troops mowed down unarmed civilians in 1972, resonated deeply with Bosnians facing annihilation.
“I thought they were a force for good,” says Bill S. Carter of U2. He wrote the documentary and plays a major role in it, recalling memories of him heading to besieged Sarajevo in the early 1990s as a young American, where he connected with an unorthodox NGO. He only intended to stay briefly, but he fell in love with the people, he explains. The central part of the film revolves around Carter’s efforts to contact U2 and Bono and enlist their help in bringing attention to the plight of the mistreated residents of Sarajevo.
U2 were then on their huge Zoo TV tour, in support of the album. baby. Remarkably, Carter overcame countless obstacles and layers of security to meet U2 on the Italian leg of their tour; he interviewed Bono, who sent a message of solidarity to the people of Sarajevo. And at their next concert, U2 dedicated a performance of “One” to the city.
“We thought the whole world had left us behind,” recalls a Sarajevan of the hope that U2 awoke. “[It was] Unbelievable that anyone cared.”
Bono, The Edge and other members of U2 and their tour staff and management teams are interviewed on kiss the future. Bono remembers proposing to U2 that they immediately go to Sarajevo to play a live concert, but the idea was ultimately deemed too risky. But at stops on their Zoo TV tour in Copenhagen, Stockholm, London and elsewhere, they used a satellite connection to broadcast Carter and young Sarajevans for a live chat in front of huge stadium audiences. Those exchanges clearly left Bono shaken, but on one occasion a Bosnian woman on the live stream told the band bluntly that, despite the gesture of solidarity, “you guys aren’t really doing anything for us.”
It was a reality check that, despite some pleasant moments, the West in general had, at best, paid lip service to the suffering of Bosnia and Sarajevo. Milošević was getting away with bloody murder.
Following that public rebuke, U2 removed the “live from Sarajevo” interludes from tour dates. “It wasn’t producing a wave,” Bono offers, saying it had become a boring exchange of “reality TV,” “using people’s pain for entertainment.”
However, they were not done with Sarajevo. They would go on to write, with Brian Eno, the song “Miss Sarajevo”, inspired by a beauty pageant held in the city in the midst of the siege, where young contestants in bathing suits held a banner that read: “Don’t let them kill us”. Luciano Pavarotti sang an operatic section of the tune.
The film shows that the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, when Serb forces executed more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys, shamed the West into retaliating. A four-day NATO bombing campaign changed everything. Amanpour comments on Milošević’s forces: “They folded in a second.” The siege of Sarajevo soon ended.
kiss the future succeeds on several levels: as an important reminder of a terrible genocidal war that has been largely forgotten, and as a kind of time capsule, recalling an era when the “news feed” satellite link that U2 implemented for the Zoo TV tour it was a first. , and MTV reigned as the supreme arbiter of youth culture. But it speaks, crucially, to the present in which civilians in the Ukraine are being attacked as cruelly and ruthlessly as the people of Sarajevo were. The citizens of Ukraine, while struggling for livelihood and warmth in a cold winter, continue to make art and need music in a similar way to the moving scenes in Cisin-Sain’s film. Ukraine’s classical musicians have played in underground shelters, a gesture of hope and resilience, and an ennobling, humane act that stands in stark contrast to Putin’s exterminating enterprise.
The documentary narrates the triumphant arrival of U2 in Sarajevo after breaking the siege. They play to tens of thousands of jubilant fans in a stadium; one man recalls nearly 30 years later: “The war was over the moment they went on stage.”
Temporarily losing the exceptional tenor voice that made him one of rock’s greatest vocalists, Bono manages to shout to the crowd, “Long live Sarajevo!” He yells: “Fuck the past! Kiss the future!”