While downtown director Igor Drljaca was only a child when he, his mother and his brother fled the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, what he experienced has continued to fuel his creative juices.
Drljaca, a Sarajevo-born filmmaker who lives in the Yonge and Bloor area, is the writer and director of the feature film, Krivina. The film’s protagonist, Miro, is an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia who travels to Bosnia to find a long-lost friend after learning the friend has been missing for two decades.
Krivina looks at the trauma caused by the war in Bosnia and the challenges faced by many new Canadians looking to settle in their new home.
“I didn’t necessarily have the same sort of trauma (as Miro) but I definitely related to some of what he went through,” Drljaca said. “The story was definitely influenced by autobiographical things from my life and from the actors Goran (Slavkovic) and Jasmin (Geljo).”
While Drljaca’s parents did their best to shield him from the strife in their former home, the tragedy that surrounded them became evident as they left.
“As soon as the shelling began in our neighbourhood, my mom had had enough and decided to figure out a way to get out of there,” the filmmaker said. “It was a smart decision because the next day, the airports shut down.”
Drljaca left with his mother and brother and they travelled for a time as refugees. His father stayed behind, which truly drove home the conflict in their former home.
“At one point, I started grieving for my father even though he was still alive,” Drljaca said. “I started hearing about a lot of people dying – of friends and acquaintances dying in the war.”
Krivina started out as Drljaca’s Masters thesis project at York University and progressed from there. Filming takes place in Bosnia and Toronto, and the filmmaker was determined not to gloss over either reality.
“It’s not like a typical Canadian immigrant story,” he said. “A lot of people who come here have problems after they enter the country, and (Miro) is carrying demons from the war.”
The film sees the main character travel from Toronto to Bosnia. The journey he takes, however, is as much a psychological one as it is physical as he struggles in the present and works to confront the past.
“It’s a travel film in a way, but it’s more about the psychology of the trip he takes,” the filmmaker said.
While Krivina marks Drljaca’s debut as a feature film director, he has also created several shorts, some of which also deal with the war in Bosnia and its aftermath. His short film The Fuse: Or How I Burned Simon Bolivar tells the tale of a young boy in Sarajevo whose efforts in doing well at school may have served as a catalyst in a civil war and won several awards.
Krivina premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and has since been screened at festivals around the world.
It opened on Friday, Jan. 25 at the Royal Cinema, 608 Bloor Street West. Check www.theroyal.to for listings.