The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Gay film makes waves in Sarajevo

A movie depicting gay love during the Bosnian war is sparking fierce debate in Sarajevo--and it's not even finished. Go West by Sarajevo director Ahmed Imamovic tells the story of two gay men--a Serb and a Muslim transvestite--who attempt to flee the besieged Bosnian capital and are captured at a checkpoint by Bosnian Serbs. The Serb saves his lover by saying that he is his Muslim fiancée and that they are to be married in his hometown in southern Bosnia. The movie is in the editing stage, and it is not yet clear when it will have its premiere. Bosnian Federation television, a coproducer of the film, on Monday aired several clips in a program meant to defend the film and its contents after it became a target of criticism.

The film became front-page news after an afternoon talk-show host on local Muslim-run Hayat television attacked it last week as a "mockery" of the sufferings of Muslims during the 1992-1995 war. The show accused Imamovic and cowriter Enver Puska of abusing the tragedy of the Bosnian war, which pitted the country's Muslims, Serbs, and Croats against each other, killed 200,000 people, and left 2.2 million homeless. TV host Arduana Pribinja-Kuric, opposed to homosexuality, argued that the gay aspect of the film was a trick to win it awards. Puska rejected that claim in an interview published Thursday in the weekly Slobodna Bosna. "The main message of our film is that any kind of intolerance leads to
misfortune: We cannot hate someone just because they are different," he was quoted as saying. The weekly defended the movie and called the attacks on it "barbaric." "Imamovic's Go West is essentially a love-story movie which openly and without compromise talks about intolerance that the horrible circumstances of war impose, when being different in any way from others, being of other
ethnicity, or being gay is enough to lose your life," Edin Avdic of Slobodna Bosna wrote.

Another weekly, Dani, defended the film. "It is bizarre that someone can attack something that he or she has not even seen and, for that matter, is not finished yet," Emir Imamovic, a Dani editor, wrote in Thursday's edition. He is not related to the director. But another Sarajevo weekly, Walter, joined the criticism. Imamovic, who won a 2002 European Film Academy award for his short movie Ten Minutes, told the Associated Press he does not "have time to deal with these
stupidities." "These are vulgar and tasteless attacks. It is, to say the least, irresponsible that someone is discussing a project that has not been finished yet," Imamovic said, interrupted in his editing work by the telephone interview. "All I want to do now is finish my film, nothing more and nothing less." (AP)

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