BIRN Bosnia Story Presented at Sarajevo Film Festival

BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday presented a story to film directors and producers about a boy who was abandoned after his mother survived the Srebrenica genocide as part of the Dealing with the Past programme at the 24th Sarajevo Film Festival.

BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina’s director Mirna Buljugic briefed the directors and producers on the story about the boy, Amir Secic, whose mother abandoned him four months after the Srebrenica genocide in July 1995.

“His mother was five months pregnant and his father was killed. He was born in November and his mother left him three days later. He stayed at the Home for Children without Parental Care. He was three years old when he saw his mother for the first time,” Buljugic said.

When he was 23, Secic wrote a book called ‘I Was Hardly a Child’ in which he described his life. He dedicated the book to his father Ibrahim Secic, one of more than 7,000 people from Srebrenica who were killed.

Buljugic reflected on some parts of the book in which Secic spoke about how he was given a red bag at the children’s home, which he used to carry with him all the time.

In his book, Secic described the red colour of his bag as “the colour of love, as well as blood, loss and genocide”.

A short video about Secic, who was also present at the event and greeted the participants, was presented to the directors and producers who attended.

The BIRN story is one of the five selected for presentation at this year’s Dealing with the Past programme at the Sarajevo Film Festival, which is supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The five stories are reviewed by interested directors, who then decide which one will be picked up for development as a documentary.

The programme is aimed at connecting filmmakers with organisations dealing with events that happened in the former Yugoslavia.

BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina has been the festival’s partner in the Dealing with the Past programme since it began.

This year’s festival is taking place from August 10 to 17.

BIRN Albania Documentary Screened in Sarajevo

BIRN Albania’s documentary ‘Free Flow’, which follows the resistance of villagers, activists and civil society to the construction of hydropower plants in Albania, was screened on August 12 in Sarajevo.

The screening, which was hosted by Civil Rights Defenders, aimed to highlight the decade-long struggle of local activists for water, property and environmental rights which were being threatened by energy companies and politicians.

Directed by film-maker Elton Baxhaku, the documentary follows villagers, activists, scientists and artists as they try to draw attention – in court and on the streets – to the threat posed to the environment and the local eco-tourism industry.

After its premiere in Tirana on June 11, BIRN Albania has held several screenings of the documentary in affected areas like the villages of Polis and Valbona, and for a more diverse audience at Dokufest, the international short film and documentary festival in Prizren, Kosovo.

Sunday’s screening in Sarajevo was the sixth screening of the documentary held by BIRN Albania and partners. It was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ena Bavcic and Vasilika Laci, programme officers of Civil Rights Defenders in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania, with the participation of film-maker Elton Baxhaku.

Further screenings will follow in Albania in the autumn.

BIRN Participates in Sarajevo Film Festival Programme

A report by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina about a boy who was abandoned after his pregnant mother survived the Srebrenica genocide is one of the five stories being presented at this month’s Dealing with the Past Programme at the 2018 Sarajevo Film Festival.

The five stories are reviewed by interested directors, who then decide which one will be picked up for development as a documentary.

“After the directors watch all five stories on Monday, we will see whose story passes the selection process and becomes material for the making of a serious international documentary,” said BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina’s director Mirna Buljigic.

BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a partner in the Sarajevo Film Festival’s Dealing with the Past programme since its inception.

BIRN Albania Publishes Data Journalism Manual

‘Getting Started in Data Journalism’ is a manual published by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania which aims to introduce journalists to data-driven reporting techniques that are essential to contemporary investigative journalism.

The manual was authored by BIRN editor Lawrence Marzouk and the investigative journalist Crina Boros.

More information available here.

The whole manual is available here.

BIRN Albania Publishes Data Journalism Manual

‘Getting Started in Data Journalism’ is a manual published by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania which aims to introduce journalists to data-driven reporting techniques that are essential to contemporary investigative journalism.

The manual was authored by BIRN editor Lawrence Marzouk and the investigative journalist Crina Boros.

As an editor for BIRN, Marzouk leads a cross-border team of journalists, sending huge volumes of freedom of information requests, scraping data and using traditional reporting methods to delve into high-level corruption in the Balkans and beyond.

Boros is an intrepid investigative journalist who reports on conflicts of interest, vulnerable groups, problematic policies and the use of public funds.

Over the past decade, data journalism has become a buzzword in media circles, grabbing the attention of traditional reporters and appearing on university syllabuses across the world.

Although universally accessible, ‘Getting Started in Data Journalism’ was written with Albanian journalists in mind. Its aim is to help reporters understand the power of harnessing data to deliver impactful story ideas which can hold power to account, expose corruption and highlight wrongdoing.

The manual aims to set reporters on the path of data journalism, but also be useful for the everyday work of journalists in general.

The whole manual is available here.

BIRN Albania Documentary Screened at Kosovo’s Dokufest

The BIRN Albania documentary ‘Free Flow’, which follows local resistance to the construction of hydropower plants in Albania, was screened on August 5 and 6 at Dokufest, the international documentary and short film festival in Prizren, Kosovo.

‘Free Flow,’ which was directed by award-winning film-maker Elton Baxhaku, is competing in the national documentary competition at Dokufest.

The film draws attention to the decades-long struggle of Albanian villagers, activists and civil society against hydropower projects which pose a threat to the environment and the local tourism industry.

In cooperation with Balkan Green Foundation and Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development, BIRN Albania helped organise a panel discussion at Dokufest, called ‘Reflect the Green in You’, which focused on the harmful development of hydropower plant projects in national parks and downstream areas.

As well as the ‘Free Flow’ director Elton Baxhaku, among the panellists at the Dokutalks event held on August 6 at Prizren’s old hamam were BIRN Albania editor-in-chief Besar Likmeta,  Aleksandra Bujaroska from the organisation Front in Macedonia, Ena Bavcic from Civil Rights Defenders in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Fabian Techene from WWF Adria. The panel was moderated by Visar Azemi from the Balkan Green Foundation.

The next screening of the documentary will be held in Sarajevo on August 12.

BIRN Albania Documentary Screened in Valbona

The BIRN Albania documentary ‘Free Flow’, which follows local resistance to the construction of hydropower plants in Albania, was screened on Saturday in the village of Valbona, part of the Valbona Valley National Park where two of a planned 14 power plants are being built.

Directed by filmmaker Elton Baxhaku, the documentary follows villagers, activists, scientists and artists as they try to draw attention – in court and on the streets – to the threat posed to the environment and the local ecotourism industry.

Villagers from nearby Dragobia attended the screening, fresh from a sit-down demonstration last month on a road that traverses the valley, in protest at quarry explosions conducted by energy companies.

The next screening of ‘Free Flow’ will be on August 5-6 at Dokufest – the annual international film and documentary festival held in Prizren, Kosovo. It will then be shown in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on August 12.

BIRN Romania Launches Reporting Project on Moldova

The Black Sea Trust For Regional Cooperation (BST), a project of the U.S. German Marshall Fund, has awarded BIRN Romania a journalism grant aimed at fostering mutual understanding between the peoples of Moldova and Romania via a series of human-interest stories (print and audio) on what it means to be citizens of these countries, separate states but yet so close in terms of history, culture and language.

Between September 2018 and May 2019, a total of at least ten journalists from Moldova and Romania will produce around 20 long-form, in-depth stories to be published locally and internationally. A selection of the stories will be published as an e-book for stakeholders and the general public.

“Despite many historical, cultural, linguistic and economic ties linking Moldova and Romania, most people from both countries still have little knowledge of one another. Media interest in daily issues is relatively high, but often characterised by unethical and unprofessional reporting”, says Marian Chiriac, director of BIRN Romania.

“In such a context, there is a clear need for human stories behind the official narratives, for fair, balanced, sensitive and educational long-form coverage to encourage greater understanding of one another.”