Gallery 210 holds screenings, discussions as part of St. Louis International Film Fest

Rita Csapó-Sweet, associate professor of media studies at UMSL, looks on as filmmakers (from left) Boris Mitic, Zlatko Cosic, Almir Sahinovic and Hari Secic discuss the state of filmmaking in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia more than 20 years after the start of the siege of Sarajevo. (Photo by August Jennewein)

For more than 20 years, St. Louis has become home to thousands of Bosnian refugees. Recognizing this influence, Eastern European filmmaking was given prominent placement in the recent St. Louis International Film Festival, with the University of Missouri–St. Louis playing a significant supporting role.

UMSL hosted several events including film screenings and panel discussions with filmmakers. The program “Twenty Years Later – Films from the Former Yugoslavia: Ghosts of the Past, Visions of the Future” was curated by Rita Csapó-Sweet, associate professor of media studies at UMSL. The selection of films from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia examined the state of filmmaking in the region more than 20 years after the start of the siege of Sarajevo.

“I believe that art can change the world. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be doing films or theater,“ Hari Secic, a student filmmaker from the University of Sarajevo, told the audience gathered Nov. 20 in Gallery 210 at UMSL.

He was part of a panel discussion of filmmakers that included Zlatko Cosic, Boris Mitic and Almir Sahinovic. Prior to the talk they screened Mitic’s “Goodbye, How Are You?” and Cosci’s “Only the Chimney Stays.”

Secic, who screened his documentary “Variation” during the Balkan Student Film Festival held Nov. 15 at Gallery 210, will be studying at UMSL as part of a student-faculty exchange with the University of Sarajevo. While UMSL’s first exchange students traveled to Sarajevo in spring 2010, Secic is the first to reciprocate.

Cosic said war had changed his direction and identity and compelled him to create art. He believes art can change the world for the better.

“I lived through all that mess, so I felt like I died in the war, and this is my second chance to say something,” he said. “I would never create art if I didn’t live through that war.”

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