Welcome to Sarajevo: A Rare War Film

Welcome to Sarajevo by Michael Winterbottom is a rare war feature film shot in Sarajevo and Croatia just a few months after the gruesome Bosnia and Herzegovina war. Though fictionalized, the film is based on real life story about war reporter Michael Nicholson who saved and adopted a Bosnian girl during war. The girl still lives in England.

What makes Welcome to Sarajevo stand apart from other war films is that the entire story, city and the war is seen through the jaded lens of media and journalists reporting the war. Unlike many other war films, the film avoids sensationalizing the violence of war or blaming any sides or groups for it. The war and destruction is rather shown as cold blooded obscene reality which is unfortunately not significant to the western world. It depicts the hard truth that though the media covers the war, it is only for the TRPs or as a feed for news channels. This indifference depicted in the film is truly disturbing.

Bosnian war was one of the modern conflicts which happened right in media glare. But unfortunately media exposure ended up desensitizing people instead of sensitizing them. This constant desensitization continues even today. Wars and conflicts are still raging in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Middle East, Africa and many other corners of the globe. But media simply reduces them to another reality show or the footage that is used by western propaganda machinery.

Films like Welcome to Sarajevo are a rude reminder of the insensitive world we inhabit but it also holds out hope that when war machinery is held bent on destroying and wiping away evidences, it is simple journalists and surviving civilians who show exemplary courage to save and nurture life.

Welcome to Sarajevo makes sure world does not forget the obscene war, killings and death of innocents in Bosnia and Herzegovina. More than the story and the characters the destroyed city and country landscape becomes the metaphor of the war and most importantly a rude reminder of the indifference of the modern world.


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