‘It’s a Chronicle of the City’: Sarajevo’s Past and Present Clash in Drama Series ‘The Hollow’

In Bosnian drama series “The Hollow,” a body is found in a museum. As senior inspector Edib Pašić tries to solve the case, he dives deeper and deeper into modern-day Sarajevo. Which hasn’t really changed all that much and keeps protecting its secrets.

“This combination of old and new is something we all carry inside. We are stuck in the past yet experiencing this strange transition in the present,” producer Amra Bakšić Čamo tells Variety. She has co-created the show alongside Danis Tanović, the director of Oscar winner “No Man’s Land.”

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Presented in Sarajevo Film Festival’s Avant Premiere Series, “The Hollow” was produced by SCCA/pro.ba for BH Content Lab and BH Telecom.

“If you go to a random bar in Sarajevo right now, they will play 1980s songs. I don’t know where it comes from. Why haven’t we moved on culturally? Also, we are a society that doesn’t solve things. We haven’t solved anything for 30 years, so how do we use this genre? It’s a whodunnit, sure, but it’s also a chronicle of the city.”

The city also influenced the show’s “sunny noir” look, although not in the way its creators initially intended.

“One thing you can’t predict is the weather. What we were going for and what we ended up with wasn’t the same,” she laughs.

“Sarajevo is usually the foggiest town in the winter. It’s this heavy industrial fog, coming from pollution and the fact that we are in a hollow. And this was the sunniest winter in the last 15 years! Luckily, our DP Erol Zubcevic embraced it so beautifully.”

Bakšić Čamo, a self-described “crime buff,” wanted to create an iconic character in Pašić, enlisting the help of “A Perfect Day” actor Feđa Štukan.

“This man cut ties with his past because of the war, but he never started to live in the present. He is stuck. Every single country has some legendary inspector who solves murders, but not Bosnia. We never had that person! I always wanted to introduce him,” she adds. Noting that making the show as local as possible can potentially make it as international as possible.

“Authenticity sells.”

“The most interesting shows right now are not made with some imaginary western audience in mind. Suddenly, you are spending your Sunday afternoon watching Icelandic, Danish or Polish series. Arthouse films just don’t work in the same way.”

“The Hollow” was directed by Tanović and Aida Begić, who also brought “A Ballad” to this year’s fest. But the collaboration, while interesting, was brought on by tragic events.

“When we shot the majority of the series, Danis’ son was hit by a car. He survived, he is doing well now, but it was very difficult,” says Bakšić Čamo.

“We were approaching the deadline and Danis wanted us to continue. Aida read the script on Monday, we talked on Tuesday and she met the actors on Wednesday. On Thursday, she started directing. I don’t think anyone will be able to tell who shot what. That’s the beauty of doing a series – in arthouse cinema, the directors bring their own voice. Here, you have to find the voice of the series.”

But arthouse is still where she feels most at home, she admits, conflicted about the show’s red-carpet premiere at a film festival.

“As a promotional tool, it’s great. On the other hand, there are things that are made for the big screen and things that are made to be watched with your dog and your husband. It’s beautiful, sure, but is it really the same as watching ‘real cinema’? I am still figuring it all out.”

With the first season clocking in at five episodes and set to premiere in September, there is room for much more, with the duo already writing the second season and hoping to shoot in the spring.

“This particular story ends, but the characters keep on going. We created ‘The Hollow’ as something that could continue. Not for 20 years, it’s not going to be ‘Midsomer Murders,’ but I am hoping for three or four seasons.”


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PRODUCTION: Danis Tanović and Aida Begić in Postproduction with TV Series Kotlina

SARAJEVO: Academy Award-winner Danis Tanović and Cannes FF laureate Aida Begić are currently in postproduction with Kotlina, a five-episode crime drama created by Tanović and Amra Bakšić Čamo, and produced by SCCA/pro.ba for BH Telecom and BH Content Lab.

The first two episodes of the series will be screened in the upcoming Sarajevo Film Festival’s Avant Premiere programme.

After a body of an unknown man is discovered in the garden of the National Museum in Sarajevo, chief inspector Edib Pašić and his young colleague Mido Zec are called upon to the crime scene. It seems to be one more insignificant case of no interest to the media, but a journalist from the Sloboda online magazine, Ajla Pašić, happens to be at the crime scene with a camera. On the same day, Edib’s war comrade Senči returns from prison. The disappearance of the corpse from the morgue and the hidden motives of the Museum’s employees lead Edib, Mido, Ajla and Senči into a web of corruption, pressure, personal failures, poverty, hopelessness and international crime.

The script was written by Amra Bakšić Čamo, Nikola Kuprešanin, Adnan Lugonić and Danis Tanović.

Feđa Štukan, Boris Ler, Ida Keškić and Mario Knezović are the lead actors.

Kotlina is produced by Amra Bakšić Čamo and Adis Đapo of SCCA/pro.ba together with Sedin Kahriman through BH Content Lab, BH Telecom’s 12,782,300 EUR / 25 m KM platform for production of high-quality television. This is the first TV series produced by BH Telecom.

Kotlina was shot in Sarajevo from December 2021 till February 2022.

The premiere of the series is planned for September 2022 on BH Telecom’s Moja TV.

All territories except for Bosnia and Herzegovina are currently available.

Five more series that will be produced through BH Content Lab are in different phases of production at the moment, of which sitcoms Na rubupameti by Elmir Jukić and Tender by Srđan Vuletić should be out soon.

Production Information:

Kotlina by Danis Tanović and Aida Begić, credit: BH Telecom

BH Telecom (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
BH Content Lab (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
SCCA/pro.ba (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Creators: Danis Tanović, Amra Bakšić Čamo
Directors: Danis Tanović, Aida Begić
Writers: Amra Bakšić Čamo, Nikola Kuprešanin, Adnan Lugonić, Danis Tanović
DOP:  Erol Zubčević
Production design: Sanda Popovac
Music: Taino
Costume: Irma Saje
Make up: Lamija Hadžihasanović Homorac
Cast: Feđa Štukan, Boris Ler, Ida Keškić, Mario Knezović, Vedrana Božinović, Izudin Bajrović, Admir Šehović, Alban Ukaj


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