Following her award-winning short “The Chicken,” Bosnian director Una Gunjak is back in the director’s seat with her debut feature, “Excursion.”
The film centers on Iman, a teenager who is seeking validation and who reveals she had sex for the first time during a game of “truth or dare” among middle schoolers. What ensues is a web of lies – including one involving her own pregnancy – that ends in an out-of-control controversy. The film plays in Competition at the Sarajevo Film Festival after having nabbed a Special Mention in Locarno.
The idea for “Excursion” came to Gunjak after reading an article in the local press. A few years ago, a scandal shook Bosnia after seven out of 13 school girls came home pregnant after an end of year school trip.
“The reason why it caught my attention is that it was everywhere,” she says. “What really struck me straightaway was that everything was discussed except for why these girls were behaving the way they were, what the psychological background was, what conditions they were growing up in, how was this discovery of sexuality outside of the normal path.”
Gunjak says it gives her clarity to observe the youth today. “Only when you reach a certain psychological emotional maturity in life are you able to look back at certain things and analyze and dissect them, and realize what shaped you, how you went through those years, what those feelings were and what your relationship with boys was.”
She adds: “This is where my feminism comes into place.”
Gunjak also feels adolescence is a double game in every sense. “They’re emotionally children, they’re sensitive and just becoming conscious of themselves,” she says.
This is why shooting with teens was a “challenge.” “Working with them was enriching. They give you a lot of energy, but they take it away too. They would really try and participate in the scenes. We were really shaping it together. For me, it was extremely important to create an environment where they felt psychologically well and safe,” she says.
The producers are Amra Bakšić Čamo and Adis Djapo for SCCA/pro.ba, Jelena Mitrović for Baš Čelik, Siniša Jurišić for Nukleus Film, Gary Cranner for Mer Film, Doha Film Institute and François Morisset for Salaud Morisset, which handles international sales.