February 15, 2016 / 9:10 PM / 3 years ago

Bosnian film in Berlin is reminder to Europe of perils: actress

BERLIN (Reuters) - The cast and crew of Berlin film festival competition entry “Smrt u Sarajevu” (Death in Sarajevo) applauded Bosnia’s application to join the EU, but one of its actresses warned of danger if Europe failed to resolve its refugee crisis.

Vedrana Seksan, a native of the Bosnian capital, noted that like Syrians, Iraqis and people from other countries today, her countrymen had been forced in the early 1990s to become refugees during the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia.

“What did you see 20 years ago? You saw women leaving their houses with plastic bags,” she told Reuters in an interview on the day of the film’s premiere.

“All refugees in the world look the same. Bosnians are also well educated people that can contribute to the European Union. We lived in a union and we know what happens when you don’t compromise. Then you walk in blood,” she said.

Bosnian director Danis Tanovic’s film is based loosely on the stage play “Hotel Europe” by the French intellectual and commentator Bernard-Henri Levy. Levy’s play portrayed a writer — effectively himself — who is preparing a discourse on the future of Europe.

The film is set in a Sarajevo hotel of the same name as the title of the play. Seksan plays a journalist who is making a documentary about Gavrilo Princip, the Yugoslav nationalist whose assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo in 1914 was one of the main events that precipitated World War One.

Meanwhile, French actor Jacques Weber plays himself, rehearsing in a hotel room for Levy’s play, which he also played on the French stage.

Director Tanovic said that by filming in Sarajevo, he hoped to underscore the message of the play.

“We’ll see if Europe is moving in the right direction”, particularly on the issue of refugees, Tanovic said.

“I think it’s very important for all the nations in Europe to understand that the way they’re going to respond to this crisis is the way that’s going to define the future.”

“Bosnia entering Europe is as important for Europe as it is for Bosnia,” he said.

Reporting by Tara Oakes; Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Alison Williams

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