Shooting Under Siege - A Study of Documentary Film Production Culture in Times of War Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992-1995
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Abstract In this MA thesis a study of documentary film production during the war in the nineties in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been conducted. How was it (practically) possible to make these documentaries and what motivated the filmmakers were the research questions. An analysis was made based on two of the most active film production companies that made films during the three and half years of the siege of Sarajevo from April 1992 to December 1995. The war started after the secession from Yugoslavia; a country that had an interdependent film industry between the constituting states. When Bosnia and Herzegovina became an independent state, it was soon apparent that the country was not only lacking technological filmmaking assets, but also in the area of human expertise. In this study I researched the individual efforts of people coming from different (professional) backgrounds who organized themselves (some literally over-night) and started to produce films on a daily basis. The substantial documentary oeuvre they produced was well received abroad. The research questions were answered with multiple and diverse sources in line with the Production Culture methodology of John Thornton Caldwell. Semi-structured interviews were held with the filmmakers. The elaborate answers were cross-checked with contemporary primary sources from the time of the war (newspaper articles, magazines). All the collected data was clustered in categories based on the main identified themes. The results showed that the practical process of film-making in the war was improvisation dependent of the conditions the production companies had on the first day of the war and their further adaptations to the circumstances. The filmmakers call it guerilla-filmmaking. The results further revealed that the filmmaker's main motivation was to fight in the war (in their own manner) through cultural resistance. The irritation they developed towards what western media was showing contributed to the decision to make films/documentaries and to screen them abroad. These more specific reasons were all connected to the overarching reason of fulfilling the identity and profession of filmmaker. The research has shown how producers/filmmakers had a different meaning-making process regarding their identity and film as a medium in war-time. The meaning-making even adapted itself to a terminology used in war-time. The danger in war had not stopped the filmmakers to make films. Their feeling of a filmmaker identity was only stronger. This research can be an incentive for similar research in other countries struck by war to study the meaning-making, creative and production process there.