Saturday, 21 September 2013

Pretty Village - film by Kemal Pervanic

A truly impressive and moving film last night at the Frontline Club, London - marking the end of several years' hard work by Kemal Pervanic.  Pretty Village is directed by David Evans and tells the harrowing story of the 1992 Kevljani massacre in Bosnia and its continuing effect on people's lives there. Kemal himself is a survivor of the notorious concentration camp, Omarska, where among his guards were former neighbours and teachers.

Kemal Pervanic, centre, at a discussion at the FrontLine Club chaired by Ed Vulliamy after the screening of Pretty Village
In May 1992, 6,000 Bosnian Muslim men, women and children were detained, tortured and raped in the cluster of villages around Kevljani. Many of these Bosniak were killed and 1,200 are still missing. In 2000 the first Bosnian survivors returned to Kevljani, where  they started to rebuild their homes and lives. Most Serb neighbours remain silent about the past and continue to fight against an initiative to erect a memorial even after the discovery of mass graves in the village.
In Pretty Village, Kemal Pervanic returns to his village. In one of the film's most extraordinary moments, in a school corridor he intercepts his former Maths teacher, who interrogated him in Omarska,  and asks him about what happened. Incredibly, a conversation ensures  - a discussion about events that are almost beyond belief.
Kemal helped with the very first Bridging Arts project, Crimson Harvest, which brought the work of Bosnian Serb artist Pero Mandic to the UK. He also helped to develop Srebrenica Now, showing photographs of Bosnian Muslims and Serbs living in Srebrenica ten years after the genocide.
Having the personal courage to confront these nightmares is inspiring to say the very least.