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Gori Vatra

This film directed by Pjer Zalica was the best shown at the 2005 Global Lens Film Festival. It is now available on dvd in the USA courtesy of First Run Features. It includes a video introduction by the director.

GORI VATRA is set in Tesanj, a Bosnian town close to the Serbian border, two years after the civil war officially ended. Corruption and hatred are palpable and most townfolk are engaged in one type of illegal activity or another. Somehow, Tesanj becomes part of President Clinton's itinerary through the region; the town stands to benefit in the form of infrastructure improvements and investment opportunities. This would require hiding the vice and corruption from a visiting international team, and cooperation among enemies to organize activities. Fuse is a drama with strong satiric tones. Among the principals: Zaim, the former police chief who spends his days drinking and talking to the ghost of his deceased son; Zaim's other son is a firefighter whose girlfriend returned from exile in Germany and stepped on a mine; there's Velija, a smuggler/pimp/dealer of illegal substances, and his sensitive and sweet accomplice Pic. They are in cahoots with police chief Mugdin, whose border connections come in handy. The encounters between these characters and uptight international overseers are hilarious yet there's plenty of pathos and poignancy amid the laughs. As the visit approaches, a children's choir learns "House of the Rising Sun", prostitutes try on uniforms and learn show tunes, American flags are made, Bosnian and Serbian fire departments merge temporarily, and an artist paints a portrait of Clinton. But, will it be possible to hide entrenched traditions of crime, corruption and ethnic conflict?