Rahima (Marija Pikic) lost her parents in the Bosnian war and now has to raise her brother Nedim (Ismir Gagula) despite being only a few years older than him. Conscientous, Rahima tries her best to do everything right. She works hard in a restaurant where she barely makes enough money and still makes sure that Nedim always has food on the table and can continue to go to school. They used to be very close, but Nedim is alienated by Rahima’s decision to convert to Islam, and with him being a teenager now, he starts to slip away – and Rahima is afraid that it isn’t a good place he’s moving towards.
Djeca sounds interesting on paper, but during the film I found my mind wandering more often than not. I just never really got into that film so much.
Movies are an excellent possibility to get an impression from a world that is very different from your own. Bosnia may not be that far from Austria physically and there are may former Bosnians living in Austria now, but that doesn’t mean I know much about the realities of life in post-war Bosnia. After watching Djeca, I still don’t feel like I know anything more about it.
Maybe that’s because the story feels a bit run of the mill. It’s not that I’ve seen so many stories about Bosnia, strained relationships between orphaned siblings or films that tackle religious conversion – and certainly not in combination. But the film only scratches the surface of all these things and it never achieves any depth or insight that would feel fresh or new.
There are still intriguing moments about it. By using long shots and close-ups, the film successfully communicates how small Rahima’s world is and how little room she has to move in or how few options she has to choose from. So is it any wonder that she refuses to accept the only thing she is allowed to refuse – a marriage proposal – although it is not such a bad offer?
Ultimately though, I’m afraid that Djeca will be forgotten quickly. I, for one, even forgot to include it in my “female directed movies I watched this year” list – and I don’t believe that’s entirely coincidental.