SARAJEVO – On 13-20 August 2021, the Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF) and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) in Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with the Forum Civil Peace Service – forumZFD and the USAID project PRO-Future have implemented a special project activity “In Youth Eyes: Western Balkans Youth Team”. The seven-day activity gathered 25 youth from the Western Balkans to attend SFF, notably the dealing with the past program, and through their eyes tell the story of intercultural dialogue, youth cooperation, diversity, and peace building.
“I think that this program will have an impact not only on us but also on our peers to whom we will pass it on in our contracting parties,” Mr Filip Etmishovski, a participant from North Macedonia, said and added that the participation of young people from the region in these activities is very important.
During the program, the participants pointed out that they were exposed to certain negative comments and imposed narratives when it comes to events from the past, most often on social networks, portals, and even family gatherings.
“We are mainly discussing about these issues in these discussions and programs – but we also need to talk about it with the general public. There is a need for political will that will motivate people and give room for such discussions in wider circles. We lack space for open discussions in the entire region,” Local Program Officer of RYCO’s Local Branch Office in Serbia Ms Ivana Markulić emphasized.
Participants also had the opportunity to talk to historian Mr Nicolas Moll, who presented research on how the pandemic awakened the memory of the war, as well as with Ms Ajna Jusić and Mr Muhamed Tucaković from the Association “Forgotten Children of War” who stressed out the importance of discussing past events which are crucial for building a better future.
“A space for understanding and cooperation must be created in our society, and we need to work on that. Conversation helps, but it takes people’s empathy, and sharing experiences, no matter how difficult it may be, to be able to understand each other, to be able to help each other. The stories we have and which we carry within us from the past can help build peace,” Ms Jusić singled out.
The special project included a variety of activities – films, panels, lectures, discussions and workshops with artists, activists and film professionals. The topics and activities of the project were focused on dealing with the past, providing youth with non-formal education and encouraging dialogues and conversation. This program addresses the difficult legacy of the past by using art, especially film, as an instrument for understanding the processes that post-conflict societies go through.
RYCO, as always, is determined to provide youth in the region with opportunities to meet each other, travel and learn about reconciliation, intercultural learning and dealing with the past. By doing this, we are giving importance to the necessity of a better future, for our present and future generations.