We Were in Sarajevo

7 9 2018

We Were in Sarajevo

An emotional yet familiar memoir of war

Diana Bosnjak Monai, author of Da Sarajevo con amore. Diario dall'assedio, clears her throat and starts: "I have lived through three wars, this is by far the worst". The words of Puniša Kalezić; a writer, a journalist and a grandfather. During the Bosnian War, he kept a journal, updating it daily, reporting from a dark basement where he and his family hoped bombs wouldn't arrive.

He wrote it in his own language, in a journalistic voice which gives an incredible perspective to his work; professional yet familiar. Diana is Bosnian but has now been living in Italy for many years. Puniša was Diana’s grandfather, and he left her the diary at the end of the war, because his memoir had to be passed on, he hoped that one day it could be published.

Years later, after her grandfather’s death, Diana felt that the work had to be published. She felt it was her duty towards herself, towards Puniša and towards everyone, to share work on the conflict.

“It has been the hardest job I have ever done, I struggled and cried so many times, but at the same time, the more I was getting closer to the end, the more I felt I was doing the right thing,” Diana told the reporter Christian Elia.

Her tales, her broken voice echoes in the wonderful Basilica Palatina di Santa Barbara, the crowd is silent. Puniša’s heart-breaking words hit everyone like a punch in the face. The image of Vijećnica, Sarajevo’s library, burning to the ground, fills the crowd’s eyes. Puniša’s eyes witnessing entire neighbourhoods and communities fleeing the city, leaving its streets empty, silent and forever damaged.

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Diana stops for a moment and addresses the audience . “I would like you to watch a short video. This video is a trailer of documentary that hasn’t yet been finished. Many stories are involved and I believe they speak for themselves. During the war, Miran Hrovatin came to Sarajevo. He filmed the babies who were born in the hospital during the conflict. Born in Sarajevo, 1994, is their story years later, but it tells us a lot about ourselves too.”

Here's an interview (in Italian) with the author conducted by Festival volunteers:

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