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In the early 1990s, ethnic tensions in the former Yugoslavia erupted into a series of wars across the Balkans. The 1,500-day Siege of Sarajevo was one of the conflicts’ most brutal episodes, as Serbian forces, supported by groups of ethnic Bosnian Serbs, attempted an ethnic cleansing of the region’s Muslims. While countless events and historical forces built up to the Bosnian War, nine-year-old Igor Drljača, who was a third-grader at Sarajevo’s Simón Bolívar Elementary School when the violence broke out, became convinced it was his fault. After all, feeling nervous about a poor grade in art, he had prayed he’d never have to go back to his school – a wish that came fatefully true.
In his short documentary The Fuse: or How I Burned Simón Bolívar (2011), Drljača, now a filmmaker in Canada and an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, revisits family VHS tapes to recount how his childhood collided with forces he couldn’t possibly comprehend. In doing so, he transforms this deeply personal story of trauma into a much more universal reflection on lost innocence, and how being a child can be accompanied by simultaneous, paradoxical feelings of both boundless power and crushing powerlessness.
Director: Igor Drljača
Biography and memoir
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Ecology and environmental sciences
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Values and beliefs
A funeral director takes in bodies that social stigma leaves unclaimed
History of technology
Reading the strings and knots that keep the secrets of the Inka Empire
Demography and migration
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Nature and landscape
Honouring the caribou, in dreams and memories from an Innu singer-songwriter
History of technology
Behold as a mechanical foghorn in Shetland awakes from its year-long slumber
Philosophy of mind
Embodied cognition seems intuitive, but philosophy can push it to some strange places