AMIR TELIBECIREVIC LUNJO:Festival as our every day's bread
Sarajevo as a festival city. Sounds interesting, promising but yet only sounds because it's not a totally completed idea. If it have to be completed it's not very clear, as well as it's not clear if it is wished to be completed. This town already has many festivals which are getting more international status from year to year. Pretty slowly but certainly the amount of people interested in festivals is increasing here and across the Europe too.
"Sarajevo film festival", "International theatre festival Mess", "International Jazz festival", "Summer cultural festival Bascarsija's nights", "Festival Sarajevo's winter", these would be the main and most famous so far. For town that is not too big someone would say it is too much while some others would say it's just enough. But for the town which was five years ago under the longest siege in modern history, which is the capital of a small state with the most complicate and unusual political system, where among other things corruption and fascist national parties are still in power, such a festivals are a kind of necessary. Yet, even still the city is just somehow unofficially considered a festival city. Like it is and it isn't at the same time. The atmosphere in town is not easy to define. It's somehow mostly the same before, during and after the festivals. People are talking a lot about it while at the same time thinking about ordinary things, especially younger population.
Usually many of them don't give a shit for all those events in town. That's partly related to a little Sarajevo's tradition of ignoring famous persons with their glory walking across our streets during some political or cultural events that has European or even worlds significance.
Even the last war in Bosnia was like some artificial festival with lots of spectacular fire work, participants and colorful program. For many people here, just like war never actually happened, they carry on with living and working (this includes unemployed too) every day life, almost like they didn't lose hand, leg, relatives, pieces of ass, job, home, intelligence, nerves or even sex organ. Of course when we say working, it means working basically in general. They work at home, in the garden around home, working in order to find a job or working on it to never work again and to get retired. We mustn't forget the majority of social-political-economic-moral-ethnic-immoral population in the country called unemployed. Now what does it have to do with festivals ? There's gotta be something since they are the largest population in this town, and they treat the festivals almost the same way as war. Probably they make around 60% of festival audience. The rest would be mostly foreigners.
Still we should be satisfied with this much festivals knowing that many quality & productive ideas with same subjects failed in this town. For instance during the war, in Sarajevo happened music festival called "Rock under siege" which was interesting and productive. Organizers wanted to turn it into traditional rock festival in town. First year after war they made "Rock under siege B" but the idea failed after a while mostly because of some moron reasons. Theatre festival "Mess" has its lucky side. It exists a couple of decades already and in their case, war was some kind of unexpected break so they continue after. Nowadays it became more known in the world which helped many Sarajevans to find out about this festival, since there was a significant amount of local persons who never heard of "Mess" although they lived in a same neighborhood. Then for international film festivals last few years the town has been visited by so called worlds names as William Dafoe, Steve Buscemy, Bono Vox, John Malkowich, Vanessa Redgrave, Woody Harellson and many others but it was all like almost nothing. There is still more or less same percent of those who are interested in culture or art and same number of those not interested, as well as approximately same number of unemployed. When all those world celebrities are walking through town it's considered like any Sarajevan is walking. It has its good and bad sides but that's another story.
Many artists and journalists claim that Sarajevo's cultural life in the siege & war time was stronger then ever. Of course they are talking from different positions and various angles. But speaking of audience and other visitors of performances, there is an old Bosnian actor who offered an interesting explanation about the solid visits to Sarajevo's war theatres, performances, shows and festivals. He based his explanation on simplification and took it off the level of a mostly fake phenomenon. People who lived near the theatre or cinema used to go there because it was close to their home, safe and interesting since everyday life was sometimes boring without electricity, TV, money, drinks, bars, etc. Spaces where the war performances were held used to be surrounded with many walls or under ground as a kind of basements or shelter so it offered others to feel kind of safe when bombing starts. It means breaking monotony and morbid boredom, at small distance from the residence, and feeling safe would be three main reasons for good visits of cultural events under siege, according to this old actor, whose name is not relevant in this story. Before the war people had more time to go to see some events out of town or country. After the war among those three war reasons the main one for the mass visits would be to kill the boredom (if the ticket isn't to expensive) plus one new reason but less important, and it would be small complex because some visitors are trying to present them selves as cultural and educated as they are possibly comparing themselves to their friends and neighbors. They think if they follow festivals especially avant-garde performances (even if they don't understand it) then they can get cultural credibility and respect in their company what also could help them to find a girlfriend or boyfriend, sometimes.
Speaking of festival organization, it is something that deserve respect and credits since they are organizing big festivals in such a complicate country, while they need lots of money for what they are doing. And they are pretty successful in organizing with their enthusiasm every year. Under all of these hard circumstances Sarajevo festivals can be roughly divided into four important segments - organizers, participants, audience and critics. Among all for now, organizers deserve the best mark, but it is temporary as all other things on the Balkan are temporary.