Snapshot of a Stolen Childhood — The Chicken by Una Gunjak at #VIWIFF2016

By Mersiha Musovic

THE-CHICKEN_02_Selma(IMAN-ALIBALIC)The Chicken, by Writer/Director Una Gunjak, is a uniquely intense, yet very moving film, which takes the viewers back in time to 1993, to a volatile setting they might be unfamiliar with: the Bosnian War. 

It is during this historic period we meet Selma (Iman Alibalic), a precocious little girl who shoots paper spit balls through a handmade shooter patched together with glue and tape. It uncannily looks like a rifle. Selma receives a live chicken from her father as a sixth birthday present.

When she discovers the chicken is not meant as a pet, but rather as a birthday meal, Selma takes matters into her own hands, not realizing the consequences her actions are about to provoke.

Gunjak does not shy away from the disturbing imagery of what it meant to fight to stay alive during the Bosnian War, which leaves one haunted long after the movie is finished. She captured the very detailed, yet unflinching view of what the “normal” Sarajevo way of life was like in 1993: candles used for light, canteens of water littered throughout the house, children making toys out of whatever materials available, and the alarming, continuous sounds of gunfire that are eventually gotten used to. A simple thing as walking outside your own house becomes a life or death situation.

THE-CHICKEN_05_The-Mother(MIRELA-LAMBIC)Mirela Lambić‘s performance is particularly moving as the brave mother trying to keep her family together while using every resource possible to have food on the table.

The Chicken, which won Best Short Film, during the Sarajevo Film Festival 2014, is more than just a film about war. It’s also about the stolen childhoods of many children, like Selma, who spent most of the war hidden in bathrooms and basements, who were cut off from electricity, water, and food. More than that, it represents a mother’s fierce love and protection for her children, and shows how there are no limits to what that bond can overcome.

This multiple award-winning short film plays Saturday March 12th at 3:30 PM at the Vancity Theatre as part of the Compelling Characters Short Film Program.

Watch a trailer:

Mersiha Musovic is a WIFTV member and an actress and writer based out of Vancouver. She made Vancouver her home at 12 years old after emigrating from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mersiha is a recipient of the 2016 WIFTV Actor Mentorship Program.

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