Documentary on Bosnian sculptor premiered at Al Jazeera film festival
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Documentary on Bosnian sculptor premiered at Al Jazeera film festival

A Standing Man tells story of Adis Fejzic, who carves unique tombstones called stecak

News Service AA

A documentary about Bosnian sculptor Adis Fejzic and his work on monumental medieval tombstones of Bosnia and Herzegovina premiered at the Al Jazeera Balkans Documentary (AJB DOC) Film Festival on Sunday.

A Standing Man, written and directed by Dragan Stanimirovic, aired at the Kovaci Multimedia Center in the capital Sarajevo.

The documentary tells the story of Fejzic who carves tombstones called stecak, which went extinct five centuries ago.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Stanimirovic said the idea of the documentary came to his mind when he first saw Fejzic work in front of the Australian parliament building.

He tried to contact Fejzic, but said he failed because the Bosnian sculptor did not use social media then.

“Five years later, I heard Fejzic started making a new tombstone in Sarajevo for the 25th anniversary celebrations of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

They finally got in touch and started shooting. Filming, however, was interrupted due to Fejzic’s health problems.

“Doctors asked Fejzic to rest for at least six months ... but fortunately, he managed to finish the stecak with the help of university students and sculptors," Stanimirovic said.

Emphasizing that Fejzic sees stecaks not as ordinary tombstones, but as unique cultural monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said: "Just like archaeologists and other experts, he argues that each of the 100,000 stecaks that have survived to the present day is different from one another."

"Stecak is the stone of the past and the future. I think it is a symbol of the encounters of cultures with each other as much as it is a symbol of the past," he said.

Almir Berkovac, the documentary producer, said they initially estimated the shooting would take a day or two, but it took more time as they traveled throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Denmark and Australia.

"Documentaries are alive, you never know what you will encounter from the moment you start shooting. Maybe that's what makes a documentary film special," he told Anadolu Agency.

Berkovac said people think they know about stecaks, but after examining the tombstones they realized their complexities, and tried to make the film both educational and visually appealing.

“One of our aims of making the film was to convey the stories on the tombstones, which are different from each other. The symbols on the stecaks carry profound stories about our history.”

The fourth AJB DOC Film Festival, of which Anadolu Agency is a global communication partner, began on Friday.

The event, running from Sept. 10-14, features 23 documentaries, including six world premieres, eight regional premieres and three special screenings. This year's theme is "Challenge.”

Three awards will be presented at the festival. A five-member international jury will choose the best film from the competition program and present the AJB DOC Main Award. All films in the competition program also compete for the AJB Program Award, awarded by the Al Jazeera Balkans Program Department Jury. All films screened at the festival will also compete for the Audience Award.

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