HIROSHIMA ’45 - MEMORIES // 07. 1993.
HARIS PASOVIC // DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL THEATER AND FILM FESTIVAL
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

July 1993

Haris Pasovic
Director of International Theater and Film Festival-MES
HIROSHIMA ’45 - MEMORIES

‘I think that not even the minimum humanitarian aid was getting to the town. Hiroshima was part of the atmosphere because we thought that it was important to remember that date and that awoke a tremendous echo. We got thousands and thousands of letters and faxes. Messages came in all sorts of ways from all over the world, including from Carl Sagan, who sent us a splendid essay about ethnocentrism and xenophobia and saying that measures must be taken against everyone who transgressed against human rights even if the UN didn’t take action. Which was an indication to the American government from him that action should be taken. It was an important message, all the messages were important. But I single out some because they were important both for subject and author. One came form the scientist Stephen Hawking, who wrote that he was appalled by the reaction of the western powers at what was happening in Bosnia and especially in Sarajevo and that it was as disgraceful as what had happened in Munich in 1938.’

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JULY 1993


• Speaking of the peace plan for BiH, Lord Owen announces: “With this division Musilims will not just get the 10% they control but more than they expect.”
• 300 American Marines are sent to Macedonia.
• Hunger strike at the City Assembly.


• Great public interest in the departure of convoys.
• Jean Cote appointed new Chief Commander of UN troops.
• A coordination committee established for the local Croat community. Dr. Ante Kovacevic announces: “All those who wish to defend the whole of BiH are welcome.”


• Vuk and Danica Draskovic, opposition leaders in Belgrade, in prison. Vuk Draskovic launches a hunger strike in protest.
• Countless barricades set up from Split to Sarajevo. Conducting humanitarian missions becomes impossible.
• HUNGER in Sarajevo. Gardens and balconies become the only sources of food.
• A Sarajevan actor says: “Sire, the actors are dying! On stage I act as if I were sated and we will keep on performing even if there are two catafalques on stage in which actors are truly dying.”


• Russian withdraw from Cuba, having first arrived in 1962.
• Hunger strikers at the City Assembly lose 1-3kg daily.


• Sarajevo becomes HELLISH.


• Although there is no oil, the TV news is still broadcast.
• Almost all work is suspended at hospitals. There are no diagnoses, and doctors skip tests before operations. Even when there is oil, the generators cannot provide enough power to operate the medical equipment.
• Lord Owen calls on the BiH government and the President of the Presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, to agree to the division of the country as soon as possible.


• The Presidency of the City Assembly ends its hunger strike under pressure from doctors and public appeals. Once the strike ends they announce: “Our conditions have not been met, but we’re terminating the strike.”
• Prices at the market: Cooking oil - 30 DM; 1 kg flour - 10 DM or 2 packs of cigarettes.


• Convoys prevented from leaving the city.
• The Draskovics are released from prison, after receiving a visit from Lord Owen who announces this to Slobodan Milosevic.
• Designer Josip Nose fashions a regulator for gas.


• Susan Sontag comes to Sarajevo to direct a performance of “Waiting for Godot.”


• 8,000 new UN soldiers arrive to BiH.


• Publication of the diary of Sarajevan girl Zlata Filipovic.


• Promotion of the slogan of the season, months, years, the ultimate slogan of the siege: “With cigarettes you’re never alone”.


• The famous Nazi war criminal hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, makes an appeal to former camp inmates and members of the resistance movement during the Second World War: “speak out against the barbarism and brutality in Bosnia.”


• Geneva, July 27, 1993. In Geneva, the peace conference on Bosnia continues. Participants include: Alija Izetbegovic, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, Mate Boban, Radovan Karadzic. Co-chairs: Lord David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg.


• New rules: Expecting mothers in Sarajevo must bring with them to the hospital when about to give birth: bed sheets, diapers, soap and water. Immediate after giving birth they must go home.
• The humanitarian organization “Caritas” asks for its own airplane, seeing UNHCR status.


• Peace negotiations in Geneva: Ceasefire signed and free passage for a convoy of humanitarian aid, as well as non-aggression towards UNPROFOR.
• The Bosnian Serb Army attacks UN troops, but air strikes are absent.
• Geneva, July 30, 1993. In Geneva at the peace negotiations, Izetbegovic, Karadzic and Boban order an end to the war. They agree that daily meetings will be held at Sarajevo Airport between the commanders of the armed forces, together with UNPROFOR commanders. Owen and Stoltenberg offer a new compromise peace plan for BiH. Under this plan the country will be divided into three republics, but not along ethnic lines, and will be under loose federal control.


• Geneva: BiH remains a single country within its existing borders, with three republics not formed exclusively on the basis of nationality.
• The U.S.A. seeks support from France and the U.K for air strikes to lift the siege of Sarajevo.

Cultural survival

The besieged city defends itself by culture and thus survives. Groups and individuals create whatever they used to create before the siege In impossible circumstances they produce films, write books, publish newspapers, produce radio programs, design postcards, stage exhibitions, performances, make blueprints for rebuilding the city, found new banks, organize fashion shows, shoot photographs, celebrate holidays, put on make up... Sarajevo is the city of the future and of the life in the post-cataclysm. In it on the ruins of the old civilization a new one is sprouting, an alternative one, composed of remains of urban elements Sarajevo lives a life of futuristic comics and science fiction movies.

Surrealism of Survivalism

Art is a healing power in Sarajevo. It is not a luxury for us, something that interests us when all other work is done. Art is fundamental component of everyday survival for us. After Surrealism we now have a new art trend in Sarajevo: “Survivalism“. Hopefully „Survivalism“ will be just as important as Surrealism was at the turn of the century.
(Haris Pašović in an interview for the Dutch magazine Skrien)

Curriculum Vitae

Born:
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1961

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING
1990/91 Fulbright Scholarship (University of Hawaii, New York University, University of Madison)
1989 High Level Training for Directions (Festival d'Avignon, UNESCO)
1987 Nordisc Theatre Institute Holstebro, Denmark
1980/84 Academy of Art, Novi Sad (former Yugoslavia)

THEATRE:
1994 SILK DRUMS by Haris Pašović (based on the Noh plays)
International Theatre and Film Festival Sarajevo
1993 ALCESTIS by Euripides
International Theatre and Film Festival Sarajevo
CITY, adapted by Haris Pašović
Kamerni teatar 55 Sarajevo
1992 UBU ROA by Alfred Jarry, adapted by Haris Pašović
National Theatre Subotica
1991 MAGICIAN by Danilo Kiš, adapted by Haris Pašović
National Theatre Subotica
WAITING FOR GODOT by Samuel Beckett
Belgrade Drama Theatre, Belgrade
1989 CALLING THE BIRDS by Haris Pašović (based on Aristophanes' „Birds“)
Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Belgrade
1987 THE BLOOD JET by Antoin Artaud
National Theatre Subotica
SPRING'S AWAKENING by Frank Wedekind
Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Belgrade
1984 BREMEN'S FREEDOM by Reiner Warner Fassbinder
Kamerni teatar 55 Sarajevo
HAMLET by Louis Bunuel
Dubrovnik Summer Festival
MURAT/SADE by Peter Weiss
Theatre Promena Novi Sad

Haris Pašović also did TV films. His other works include acting, radio and a number of collaboration in theatre.
For his work Pašović has won almost every major theatre award in former Yugoslavia.
His current position: Director of the International Theatre and Film Festival Sarajevo and Professor of directing at the Performing Arts Academy Sarajevo.
During the siege of the city, Haris Pašović has continued to direct theatre performances and films and organize screenings and exhibitions. He turned The Film and Theatre Festival – Sarajevo into the center of „Survivalism“, the center of the Cultural Survival. Because, being able to continue to take part in cultural events is for him a sign of humanity in an inhuman situation.

Haris Pašović's Theatre Company

Photographs:
Osman Arslanagić – Stage design
Izudin Bajrović – Actor
Ines Fančović – Actress
Zorica Fetahagić – Secretary
Amra Kapidžić – Actress
Mario Marković – Actor, musician
Ognjen Martinović – Technical director
Irena Mulamuhić – Actress
Tahir Nikšić – Actor
Lejla Pašović – Actress
Velibor Topić – Actor
Amela Vilić – Costume designer
Muharem Vojniković – Composer
Emir Žuljević – Dramaturgist
Gustav – Gule-Dog
Mirza Halilović – Actor and Executive director
Lejla Hasanbegović – Actress
Ivan Hnjelovjec – Coach
Almir Karamehmedović – Assistant producer
Timur Mehmedbašić – Actor

Haris Pasovic
He was born in Sarajevo in 1961. In 1984 he graduated the Academy of Art in Novi Sad. His professional training includes the Fulbright Scholarship, High Level Training for Directors (Festival d’Avignon, UNESCO), work for Nordic Theatre Institute Holstebro in Denmark. Haris Pašović was directing in the most important theatres in former Yugoslavia before the war and has won almost every major theater award. His work has included Aristophanes’ “Birds”, Bunuel’s “Hamlet”, Jarry “Ubu Roa”, Wedekind’s “Spring’s Awakening”, “Marat/Sade”, Kiš “Simon, the Magician”.

THE SIEGE
During the siege of the city, Haris Pasovic continued to direct theater performances (“City”, “Silk Drums” based on the Japanese classical theatre, Euripides’ “Alcestis”, “Silk Drums II” “In the country of last things”, by Paul Auster) and films and organize screenings and exhibitions. He has been running the Sarajevo International Theatre and Film Festival.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
I wouldn’t come back.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
Freedom.

What is you biggest loss?
Freedom.

What is your biggest gain?
A new look at freedom and that I do not hate anybody.

When and where were you happiest?
Moments, moments...

What are your lost illusions?
A healthy society.

Describe your day at work.
Waking up, reading, administration, creation, reading, sleeping.

Sarajevo?
Sarajevo?

What words don’t you use anymore?
How do I remember?

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Yes.

Where would you like to live?
In nature.

How have you survived?
By accident, for now.

What are you afraid of?
A world war.

Does the past exist for you?
Yes.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
It would be nice if it was intelligent.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
Once you find the recipe it is often too late.

How would you like to die?
I would not like to die.

Do you need hope to live?
After hope and after fear.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
Difficult years.

How would you call this period of your life?
War.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
Yes, but I cannot answer the second part of the question.

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