Scream For Me Sarajevo tells the story of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson’s gig in Sarajevo in 1995. Why is that worthy of a documentary you ask? Well, Sarajevo was under siege at the height of the war in former Yugoslavia and to enter the city would have been deemed unwise, to say the least.
The documentary features interviews with key members of the audience and those that made the gig happen as well as Bruce himself and his band members. As well as interviews there are also live clips from the show alongside real footage of Sarajevo during the siege.
Above the norm
Something that sets this story apart from the other times that Rockstars attended war zones and other conflicts spreading words of peace is that Dickinson wasn’t interested in publicity; in fact, hardly anyone outside the city knew it was even happening.
Yes, it was reported in Kerrang and other Metal magazines but it wasn’t until now that we realised quite how fragile their situation was or how little protection they actually had from the UN peacekeeping forces at the time.
Whilst this isn’t a high budget, polished piece of work it is extremely moving. The interviews with locals who lived through the war and attended the concert are fascinating and on several occasions very moving.
It is hard to describe just how much a concert like this can impact a community but when that community is on the brink it can be just the thing that brings them together and gets them through. What is touching is how so many of them just couldn’t believe he was going to play in their city whilst it was being shelled and under the watch of enemy snipers at all times.
But that is exactly what he and his band did. They made their way through the country with little protection and put themselves on the line, not to make themselves look good but to bring some joy to people in need, even if it was just for one night. It was touching to see just how much that one night meant to those that were there and is a testament to the power that music can have to empower and give people purpose.
A Glimpse of Hell
There are several scenes in the film which are real footage taken during the siege and these are both interesting and harrowing in equal measure. We have all seen footage of battles on the news and in documentaries about the Second World War, Vietnam or Iraq but it always seems so far away from our reality that it’s hard to quantify.
What this footage does is give you a real emotional attachment to war, it is in reasonable modern times, the people are dressed like us, the terrain is that of a typical European city and the footage is clean.
All of this helps to give us a deeper understanding of the day to day lives of those living in conflict, and it’s disturbingly mundane. People are seen going to work or school despite a war going on and there are even people out shopping for what food they can find. It all becomes very real though as snipers open fire on crowds of innocent people, women and children included.
We sincerely hope we never have to live through anything like it and after watching this that feeling is greatly enhanced.
Our only negative on the documentary is that it perhaps assumes that the viewer knows about the war and the city already.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case so it would have been nice to have some background on the sides at play in the war and the history that started it.
It would also have been nice to have some kind of text at the end of the film saying how the war finally ended. We remember it clearly but, like many people, probably couldn’t give you too many details about it.
There are also several moments where the interviewees mention places, such as street names or squares as if we should know where they were.
It would maybe have been good to see an image of where they were talking about just to help the viewer to understand a little more. That said we are nitpicking and on the whole, this is a must watch documentary.
You don’t have to be a fan of Bruce Dickinson or his music to appreciate this documentary; it is a very well-produced piece that gives a rare insight into the lives of those living through the horrors of modern warfare.
It may not be a glossy production but it’s highly effective and we would urge anyone to give it a go.
We left the cinema touched and deeply affected by it and that’s not a bad thing. It really does highlight how hung up we are on the mundane annoyances of modern life when in reality we could very easily be fearing for our lives on a daily basis with no hope of a future.
Scream for me Sarajevo will be released on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital on 29th June 2018 as well as a CD and Double Vinyl soundtrack album.