Acclaimed director Danis Tanovic won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival for this unflinching exposé of the prejudices faced by Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Roma minority, starring the real-life couple whose harrowing ordeal became a national scandal.
An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker
The latest drama from Bosnian director Danis Tanović enlists a cast of non-professionals to reconstruct a harrowing personal ordeal that became a national scandal. Awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Berlin, An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker is a story of courage in the face of hardship and injustice. It revisits the alarming saga of Senada Alimanović and partner Nazif Mujić (recipient of the Berlin Silver Bear for best actor for his autobiographical portrayal).
Struggling to make ends meet as a scrap-metal forager in the remote Roma community of Poljice, Nazif's hardscrabble routine becomes a desperate fight for survival when Senada suffers a miscarriage. Without medical insurance or means to pay for a life-saving antisepsis procedure, Senada and Nazif are denied admittance to the local hospital. So begins a hellish ten-day odyssey pitting the couple against social prejudice and a callous bureaucracy, as Nazif scrounges and Senada's condition grows ever more critical.
From these wrenching events, Tanović
fashions an unflinching exposé of the
institutional discrimination faced by Bosnia-
Herzegovina's Roma minority. Shot with an
unvarnished, verité aesthetic against the
bleak backdrop of the Bosnian winter, his
film treats its subject with great compassion,
providing an intimate, empathetic portrait
of dignity amid crisis. His non-professional
performers, meanwhile, lend the project a
compelling authenticity. The knowledge
that they are reliving their own nightmarish
memories only bolsters the emotional
potency of Tanović's pointed social critique.
Contemporary World Speakers
Robert Austin, Lecturer at the Munk School's Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, is an expert on East Central and Southeastern Europe in both historic and contemporary perspective. He will speak about An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker in an extended Q&A session following the screening. Visit tiff.net/worldspeakers to find out more. Special thanks to the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs