Originally created 06/17/04

Film depicts horror of the Bosnian War

On the big screen, it would easily earn an R rating.

But life during the Bosnian War was violent, and that is what Augusta State University film student Arijana Sijercic wanted to show in her six-minute film called I Lived in Terror.

It is one of several short films being shown free tonight during the Third Annual Augusta Mini Cine Film Festival at The Bee's Knees on 10th Street. Ms. Sijercic, 26, was born in Sarajevo, where the six-year war left death, destruction and despair. As a 14-year-old, she spent weeks in her family's basement.

"We didn't have water; we didn't have electricity; we didn't have food. But you couldn't leave your house because they were shooting," she said.

When it was safe to venture out, she stood in a line for water from the United Nations with 200 people. There was sadness all around. Many of her friends were killed, and she saw people without legs, a result of the war.

"It is one of the things I would just not like to see again," she said.

In 1999, two years after the war had ended, Ms. Sijercic's skills on the basketball court led to offers to play in the United States. She went to New Mexico Junior College, then the University of Hawaii. Looking to transfer, she came to Augusta State after someone introduced her to the coach.

While studying film in ASU's Television and Cinema communications tract, she decided to use the technology to share her terrifying experience with war.

"At first, it was very emotional for me to do this. I had to go back through the old memories," she said. "I didn't have as much footage as I would have liked. I had to use a lot of photos. It was very graphic."

Part of the film shows news footage of a street massacre, the result of someone setting off a bomb as residents ventured out to get food. ASU film professor Rick Pukis said the graphic images show the Bosnian people didn't always know whether family members would return when they left home for food and water.

Because the images are graphic, Professor Pukis will take the unusual step of warning viewers before showing the film. "But I think it is important to show what war is all about instead of censoring some of the images," he said.

Ms. Sijercic, affectionately known to friends as "Boz" after her country, said the pictures of decapitated bodies show the senselessness of war.

"I want people to know what happened in Sarajevo," she said. "There hasn't been a whole lot on the news, and it is forgotten."

Ms. Sijercic returned to Sarajevo recently to see her parents and siblings. But she said she has an adopted family here and plenty of good friends.

After graduating this year, she plans to earn a master's degree and pursue a career in either basketball or film.

But the war is something that will stick with her forever.

"After that, I appreciate things more," she said. "Until something like that happens, you don't appreciate what you have."

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.


The Third Annual Augusta Mini Cine Film Festival is tonight at The Bee¹s Knees at 211 10th St., in downtown Augusta. The festival, highlighting work by Augusta State University film students, is free, with showtimes at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight.

Among the films:

  • I Lived In Terror, by Arijana Sijercic, an up close and gut-wrenching experience of living through the Bosnian War.
  • Superstar, by Daniel Clanton, which explores the life of pro wrestler Aaron "Superstar" Leggett.
  • Cover-Girl, by Stephanie Brooks, which uses special effects to make a picture of a regular girl look like a Cover Girl.
  • Let Them Eat Cake, by Kay Webster, a short film focusing on the secret ingredients in cake.
  • Summer Days, by Jerome Manley, a motion music video of the director¹s band, Damascus Grey.

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