Béla Tarr

Cities like Sarajevo are rare

Béla Tarr is a famous Hungarian film director and founder of the study program, film.factory, at the Sarajevo Film Academy at the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology (SSST). He is also President of the Feature Films Jury at this year’s Sarajevo Film Festival.


Due to his professional commitments, Tarr lives in Sarajevo for a good part of the year, so he has shared some of his impressions of BiH’s capital city.

He says that he first heard about Sarajevo long, long ago but didn’t have a chance to visit the city until he was invited to take part in one of the first post-war editions of the Sarajevo Film Festival.

He was well aware that the war in BiH had just ended and was prepared for the worst, but nothing could have prepared him for the traces of the horrors of war that seemed to meet him on every corner. His first impression was that he was in a city that had survived an apocalypse.

Nevertheless, despite the ruins, he was able to see the beauty of Sarajevo and what he liked most was the mix of cultures and the fusion of differences. It’s rare to find cities in the world that are multicultural in the way that Sarajevo is, he says, and he urges Sarajevans to do all that they can to preserve this cultural diversity.

Béla is proud of the fact that he has made many friends in Sarajevo and when asked about Sarajevans and their virtues and shortcomings he says that we should not look for such things in Sarajevans or in others, for that matter, but should accept people for what they are.

Since he works in Sarajevo, the hardest thing for him to get accustomed to are the occasional unresolved business dealings and the fact that all may be going well one moment, but then, for no real reason, things get complicated and seem to be going downhill the next.

Tarr points out that he hasn’t come up with a special Sarajevo ritual, but alters his daily activities according to his needs and disposition. However, he does enjoy taking long walks along Ambassadors’ Alley, and recommends the same to everyone.

Something that makes Sarajevo and BiH different from his own hometown and country is the fact that people here don’t care enough about culture. He believes that Sarajevo and BiH have many talented people, and he can’t understand why they aren’t more appreciated.

On another note, Béla really likes Bosnian cuisine and truly enjoys its many specialties. He recommends that visitors try out different foods, for everyone is sure to find something to their liking.

Having lived in our city for so long, Béla says that he has gotten used to Sarajevo, that he no longer notices its flaws and has acquired the perspective of “a local”.

For Tarr, the symbol of Sarajevo is the National Museum of BiH, which he considers one of our country’s most important cultural institutions and which is, sadly, still closed.

He recommends that those who first come to Sarajevo visit the old Orthodox Church, the Cathedral of Jesus’ Sacred Heart and Gazi Husrev Bey’s Mosque in order to gain better insight into the mix of cultures which Sarajevo should be proud of. He also suggests that visitors take a slow walk around town, during which they’ll be able to learn much about the history of Sarajevo.