Roma couple recreate own struggle in Berlin film

Bosnian Roma couple re-enact struggle to get treatment in film by Oscar-winning director

Associated Press
Roma couple recreate own struggle in Berlin film
.

View photo

From left, actors Senada Alimanovic, Nazif Mujic and baby Danis pose for the photo call of the film An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker at the 63rd edition of the Berlinale, International Film Festival in Berlin, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN (AP) -- A Bosnian Roma couple re-enact their personal struggle to get treatment after their baby died in the womb, in a tiny-budget movie by an Oscar-winning director that's competing for the top prize at the Berlin film festival.

Director Danis Tanovic discovered the story of the couple, Senada Alimanovic and Nazif Mujic, in a newspaper in late 2011. He says he went to meet the family several times and had the "crazy idea" of having the couple play themselves to avoid a long planning process.

Tanovic made the movie, "An Episode In the Life of an Iron Picker," with €17,000 ($23,000) from a Bosnian film fund. It has its premiere Wednesday at the Berlin festival, where it's one of 17 movies competing for the Golden Bear award.

The movie re-creates several days in which Mujic, who tried to make ends meet at the time by collecting scrap metal, fought to get emergency treatment for Alimanovic after her baby died while she was still carrying it.

The couple didn't have public health insurance, and a hospital denied them the surgery when they were unable to meet its demands to pay €500 — a huge sum for them. Roma, also known as Gypsies, suffer from poverty and discrimination across Europe, particularly in the continent's east.

"They were reluctant at first" to play themselves in the movie, said Tanovic, whose "No Man's Land" won the Oscar for best foreign-language film in 2002. "They were a little bit afraid to tell the story. They didn't know me, they didn't know what I wanted to do."

He said their story is "deeply disturbing and unfair, (and) I think the best way for me to fight these things is to show them, to talk about them."

Tanovic worked without a screenplay and the film features no professional actors; two doctors, one who refused to treat Alimanovic and another who did treat her, are played by other doctors who are friends of the director.

Mujic said he still has no regular job or health insurance and is "living from hand to mouth," though he's now involved with an organization that seeks to improve Gypsy children's education — but, with the film project under way, he was able to get gall bladder treatment last year.

He was joined at the Berlin festival by Alimanovic.

"It was painful," she said of the episode the film depicts. "I don't want anyone else to experience what I had to experience."

View Comments (0)

Recommended for You

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the…

    AFP
  • U.S. may review 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly

    (Reuters) - U.S. transportation safety investigators said on Wednesday they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper," and their pilot. The original investigation 56…

    Reuters
  • France, Cameroon wouldn't take foreigner later shot by LAPD

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A homeless foreigner shot to death by Los Angeles police was in the country illegally after serving time for a bank robbery but couldn't be deported because no country would take him, U.S. immigration authorities said Wednesday.

    Associated Press46 mins ago
  • 175-Pound Pit Bull Hulk Shatters Misconceptions About the Breed

    This dog just may be the world's largest Pit Bull. Only 18-months-old, Hulk weighs a hefty 175 pounds. He's also best friends with a 3-year-old boy.

    ABC News
  • Iranian president says Israel 'greatest danger'

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Israel creates the "greatest danger" in the region, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In a speech on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu said Tuesday the nuclear agreement US President…

    AFP
  • Former marine reported killed in Syria

    A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's…

    AFP
  • Killers sought in deaths of 300,000 chickens in South Carolina

    By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said on Monday. Birds have been found dead of unnatural causes in 16 chicken houses at…

    Reuters
  • Americans Love K-Cups, but Their Creator Regrets Inventing Them

    Now it seems that John Sylvan, the inventor of the tiny containers, is firmly on Team #KillTheKCup too. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” said Sylvan.

    Takepart.com
  • Australians on Indonesia death row arrive on execution island

    Two Australian drug smugglers were taken Wednesday to an Indonesian island where they will be executed despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save them, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was "revolted" by their looming deaths. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the…

    AFP
  • Marijuana Growers Arrested After Pocket Dialing 911

    Three men in California were arrested Monday night after one of the suspects pocket dialed 911. The emergency operator who took the call heard two of the men talking about the possibility of getting pulled over, leading to a major drug bust.

    KSWB - San Diego
  • 'Thousands' of Russian troops in east Ukraine: US envoy

    The United States' senior envoy to Europe alleged Wednesday that Russia had deployed "thousands and thousands" of troops to neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to a congressional foreign affairs committee, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also told US lawmakers that Russia was flooding…

    AFP
  • Couple plead not guilty to locking up kids 22 hours a day

    ASHTABULA, Ohio (AP) — A husband and wife in Ohio pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that they kept three of their adopted children locked up 22 hours a day, gave them little to eat and beat them with a paddle that became stained with blood.

    Associated Press
  • Afghan forces kill dozens of militants in hostage rescue operation

    By Sarwar Amani KANDAHAR (Reuters) - Afghan security forces have killed dozens of militants in a military operation aimed at freeing a group of civilian hostages in southern Afghanistan, an army official said on Wednesday. Eyewitnesses said most passengers belonged to the ethnic Hazara minority, a…

    Reuters
  • Paris Hilton brother Conrad to plead guilty to plane assault

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paris Hilton's youngest brother, Conrad, agreed to plead guilty to assaulting flight attendants on a trip from London to Los Angeles last year when authorities say he called other passengers "peasants" and threatened to kill crew members.

    Associated Press
  • Ferguson Officials React to Department of Justice Report

    Officials in Ferguson will comment Wednesday on a scathing report from the Department of Justice about the police department`s treatment of African Americans.

    Tribune
  • New Honda Civic breaks Nürburgring record

    The new Honda Civic Type R hot hatchback, officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on Wednesday, is now also officially the world's fastest front-wheel-drive car. As well as taking the wraps off the eagerly awaited 306bhp, 167mph (269km/h) car, Honda also revealed that in testing it had posted…

    AFP Relax News
  • Hundreds of starving koalas killed in Australia

    Close to 700 koalas have been killed off by authorities in southeastern Australia because overpopulation led to the animals starving, an official said Wednesday, sparking claims of mismanagement. Victoria state Environment Minister Lisa Neville said the koalas were euthanised around Cape Otway near…

    AFP
  • Georgia police officer killed in shootout

    By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia police officer was killed in a shootout with a suspect in suburban Atlanta early on Wednesday, authorities said. Officers went to investigate reports of shots in a suburban neighborhood and came under fire about 1:30 a.m. EST, according to the Fulton…

    Reuters