"Grbavica" by Jasmila Zbanic


The Golden Bear winner of the Berlinale 2006 ”Grbavica” is a brilliant example of co-operation cross borders. It is a co-production between Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany and Croatia.

Gabriele Röthemeyer at the German regional film fund Filmförderung Baden Württemberg heard about the project ”Grbavica” from her Austrian partner Peter Zawrel of Filmfonds-Wien. She directly recognized the highly artistic value of the project and saw the potential in the story. As she was already familiar with a short film by the same director and spotted a big talent, and as she knew co-operation with Vienna always worked well, she decided to invest in the project.

”Grbavica” might be the first feature film by Bosnian filmmaker Jasmila Zbanic, but it’s certainly not the first collaboration between the regional film funds Filmfonds-Wien Austria, and Filmförderung Baden Württemberg, Germany.
”I do believe in chemistry. You have to meet, get to know each other a bit, to see if you could work well together – and then build something up that can continue for a long time. That is why I think Cine-Regio is such a good idea. It is excellent way to meet future partners and build up relationships”, Röthemeyer says about her successful collaboration with Filmfonds-Wien. And she continues ”Peter Zawrel and I have known each other for at least nine years now, and we agreed very soon to join forces in realizing interesting film projects”.

For the project of ”Grbavica” Gabriele Röthemeyer faced the problem of getting the financing plan together. Normally when Filmförderung Baden-Württemberg invests in a project, 120 % of the money has to be spent in the region. So how could she propose a reasonable set up for all the partners in the project?
”It had to be shot in Sarajevo and there was definitely no sense in having German actors… But we placed the post production and editing here in Baden Württemberg – and as we were only in on a smaller part of the total financing/budget (100 000 euro), it was enough”, explains Gabriele Röthemeyer. ”The Filmfonds-Wien part of the budget was a bit bigger (300 000 euro) but for them the problem was less difficult: many of the Bosnian actors in the film were acknowledged as Austrian citizens, as they lived permanently in Vienna”.

Gabriele Röthemeyer is very enthusiastic about cross border co-productions and she is convinced that this kind of production will become even more important in the future.
”There is less and less money for film projects focusing on quality so co-productions are necessary to be able to continue to produce these projects - for mainstream film there will always be money - So we should create some kind of pools, where we choose our partners on a good basis, because, even though co-production is often the solution, you really shouldn’t work together with just anyone. Then within the network you can keep one another informed of what is happening in the different regions. As soon as there is a synopsis you can advertise it and inform of what part of the project is already in place. As well as you can inform others of what kind of projects you are looking for”, Röthemeyer suggests.

In order to extend the cross border network, Filmförderung Baden-Württemberg is actively working to broaden the collaboration with other funds. I.e. Filmförderung Baden-Württemberg has successfully established special exchange programmes with the Catalonian fund ICIC in Spain as well as with regional film funds in both France and Italy. Beside the neighbouring film regions in Germany and Austria, Filmförderung Baden-Württemberg has used the links and contacts already in operation in industrial co-operations, for instance the so-called "Four Motors of Europe".
”This is actually how we first started an exchange with Rhône-Alpes Region and Rhône-Alpes Cinéma in France and how we got closer to the Spanish regional film fund Catalan Films & TV. We also make contact with funds in different development stages, for instance in Piemont in Italy, they are only about to set up a regional film fund, but we are looking forward to co-produce future projects with them”, Röthemeyer says.

The best advice Gabriele Röthemeyer can forward to other public funding bodies when it comes to successful co-producing, is that all representatives must be very open minded and stretch their guidelines and think of all possibilities.
”Perhaps you don’t always get your results directly, but it is important to think in longer terms”.
It is also important to remember to use your partners as advisors Röthemeyer points out ”Like the way I always ask Peter his opinion concerning new, up and coming producers; what he thinks are their biggest assets, whether they seem strong enough and so on”.

Source: Cine-Regio, June 2006



”Grbavica” is a story about contemporary Sarajevo. Single mother Esma wants to grant her twelve-year-old daughter Sara's wish to participate in a school trip. A certificate proving her father is a war martyr would allow her a discount. But Esma continues to avoid Sara's requests for the certificate. She will rather find a way to pay full price for the trip. She believes not telling the truth about Sara's father is a way to protect both herself and her daughter.

Original language: Bosnian
Year of production: 2005
Genre: Drama
Director, writer: Jasmila Zbanic
Origin of production: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina/Germany/Croatio.
World sales: The Match Factory
Producers: Barbara Albert, Damir Ibrahimovic, Bruno Wagner 
Co-Producers: Boris Michalski, Damir Richtaric

Production supported by: Austrian Filminstitute, Eurimages, Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport - Foundation for Cinematography Sarajevo, MFG Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg, Filmfunds Vienna, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Balkan Script Development Fund of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, für ZDF / Das kleine Fernsehspiel in Zusammenarbeit mit ARTE_PBS - Public Broadcasting Service / Javni RTV Servis Bosne i Hercegovine.

Director of Photography: Christine A. Maier 
Art Direction: Kemal Hrustanovic
Costume Designer: Lejla Hodzic
Editor: Niki Mossböck
Sound Design: Igor Camo, Tom Weber

Mirjana Karannoviv
Luna Mijovic
Leon Lucev


Awards and nominations:
2006 Berlin International Film Festival 
Awarded:Golden Berlin Bear, Peace Film Award, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury

2006 Sundance Film Festival
Nominated: Grand Jury Prize

2006 AFI Fest
Awarded: Grand Jury Prize

2006 Brussels International Film Festival 
Awarded: Best actress, Canvas TV Prize for Best Film 

2006 European Film Awards
Nominated: Best actress, Best film

2006 Thessaloniki Film Festival 
Awarded: Woman & Equality Award

2007 Portland International Film Festival
Awarded: Audience Award