Pjer Žalica

Sarajevo has tradition, a pulse and nature

Director Pjer Žalica (whose film, Concentrate, Grandma, should open the 26th SFF) says the whole team enjoyed making it, and he hopes the audience will feel even some of that passion.


When the academic year ends at the Academy of Performing Arts, where he teaches directing, and after working on new film and TV projects, Pjer rests in Herzegovina.

- At one time, a dynamic life relaxed me, now it’s nature. In Sarajevo, I take it easy in Ilidža, on Velika Aleja, at Vrelo Bosne, in Stojčevac…, and by walking my dog in the park by Druga Gymnasium, since we don’t have dog parks in the old town.

Fantastic potential

- Sarajevo has fantastic potential – tradition, a pulse and nature. BiH hasn’t used even 10% of what it has in terms of sport and culture, which lack systemic support. Nearby mountains are heaven for hikers and bicyclists. The city needs better road infrastructure and transport, more bike paths, walking areas, better signage at touristic spots, places for non-smokers and a solution to the air quality problem.

Pjer describes Sarajevo as a small-big city. Small enough not to swallow you up, but also big because it is a city of champions, in various fields.

- I haven’t met a man who didn’t feel the specific spirit of the mahala metropolis in Sarajevo. The laid-back air and the feeling that it’s easy to live well, even though we’re constantly talking about and showing the opposite, makes up the paradoxical nature of the Sarajevo spirit and “sells” dark comedy as an authentic souvenir.

He says that Slatko Ćoše and the fusion of architecture (Eastern, Ottoman and European, Austro-Hungarian) have always fascinated him.

Sarajevo gets into your DNA

- I’m from the “haustor,” from Bjelave mahala, and I love the fusion of the urban center and little streets – from Čaršija to Marijin Dvor. This is a city that vibrates, like a virus with no antibodies. It gets into your DNA and there’s no going back. Everything that aggravates me here cannot outweigh the feeling of love and happiness that only home can give.

Pjer says everyone should visit Baščaršija, ride the cable car, try some Bosnian food, meet as many people as possible and give in to the charm of Sarajevo.

- My favorites are BarSa, Kibe Mahala, Bašča kod Ene, Dženita and ASDŽ aščinicas and the restaurant Kod Kule going into Hrasnica. I drink coffee at Granada on Štrosmajerova, and friends usually ask that I bring baklava, kadaif, tulumbe…from Sarajevo.

As for festivals, he spotlights SFF, Jazz Fest, and MESS; and the War Childhood Museum and Historical Museum. He thinks a replica of the Sarajevo Haggadah is a special gift.