In Search of Better days

In Search of Better days
A Documentary by Wijnand Slurink
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About the project
LOCKLINETwenty years after the war in Bosnia the future still isn’t that bright for the younger generations. They leave in search of better days.

‘In Search of Better Days’ tells the story of a young generation from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Twenty years after the war the future still isn’t that bright for them. They struggle with unemployment and the lack of study opportunities. The country is poisoned by corruption and nationalism but no one seems to have the solution for these problems. Should they stay or leave, to another country where there are more opportunities?

How it started

The geographic location of the Balkans is very interesting, it’s between West-Europa, Russia and the Middle East. It’s been in under the influence of some of the greatest empires in history. Like the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire. All these empires have left their mark on the people who inhabit the Balkans today. Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of those countries with a rich culture and history. 

I wanted to get to know this fascinating country better so I decided to make my graduation movie about it. That's why I got into my car in November 2016 and made a trip trough Bosnia and Herzegovina. I drove across beautiful mountain roads, walked through centuries old villages and saw impressive waterfalls. It is one of the most hospitable countries I've ever been to. For example, I slept two nights with a family in a small village near Banja Luka, where the eldest son had invited me. The mother did not speak English but with gestures she asked if we fancied something to eat. She would not accept no for an awnser and began to prepare the most delicious traditional dishes. The son told me that if he needed to be in the city center he simply stood along the road and had a lift in no time. People in the Netherlands can learn a thing or two from that hospitality!

The country has three major ethnic groups, the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Serbs and Croats. Religion is important in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a result, the stunning landscape is filled with Catholic-, Orthodox churches, synagogues and mosques. Unfortunately, this diversity also results in a lot of trouble. In 1992, when Bosnia and Herzegovina had just declared independence from Yugoslavia, a bloody war started. Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats who had been neighbours for decades started to expel and murder each other. In 1995 the war was ended by the treaty of Dayton. Now, twenty years later, it is peaceful again, but tensions are still present. Still, the country is divided to the bone and national feelings are still present.

Research

I went on this trip to investigate how people of my age in Bosnia and Herzegovina deal with the tensions in their country. Do they feel dissension between each other? Are they afraid? But above all, how do they look at the future? I spoke with about 50 young people about these issues. I did this in different areas and people of different ethnicities.

It became clear to me how hard it was to be around my age and live in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Young people don’t have the same opportunities as Dutch youth and changes for a study are slim. Moreover, the chances are high you end up being unemployed after finishing a study. For a job you need to know someone or bribe someone. Young people do not feel represented in politics and aren’t heard in their own country. Because of this, many go abroad to find work or go to college. Before leaving, they plan to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve their country. But in practice, they mostly don’t return home.

The film

I want to tell the story of these young people because I think it’s important. I am going to show multiple angles on the subject. I'm going to show an idealist, someone who tries to change Bosnia and Herzegovina for he better. In contrast, I want to show someone who leaves the country, to search for work or college abroad. Because I heard many stories about how good it used to be, I also want to show someone who calls himself a Yugostalgonist. This person thinks back to the prosperity during the time of Yugoslavia. Through this character the viewer gets to know about the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In my film I want to show this beautiful country, its welcoming culture and at the same time the tension that makes everything difficult. I think it's important to show what hate and fear can do with a country. This kind of politics can wreck a country for a lot of generations.

What now?

In April we will go to Bosnia and Herzegovina to shoot the documentary. To cover the costs for our trip and finishing the film, we ask your support. With the Cinecrowd platform we hope to raise a sum of 4,000 euros. This we need for fuel, accommodation, camera - and audiogear.

You can fallow us on facebook: www.facebook.com/isobetterdays

We’re hoping for your support!

Quote that inspired the maker

"I love my country but I will leave tomorrow if I could, and I would not go back. Ever."
Research report, November 2016
This project was successfully funded on 19-03-2017

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