The Sarajevo Film Festival has canceled all screenings and all but one of its events on Wednesday after the Bosnia and Herzegovina government declared it to be a “Day of Mourning” following three murders committed in the northeastern Bosnian town of Gradačac on Friday.
The perpetrator, Nermin Sulejmanovic, a bodybuilder, reportedly livestreamed the murder of his first victim, his former wife Nizama Hećimović, on Instagram. He then killed a man and his son, and injured a further three people, before committing suicide. Officials later said some 12,000 people watched the slaying live, and the video received 126 likes.
The festival had previously said it would cancel social events but continue with screenings, workshops, lectures and presentations on Wednesday, but it has now shut down its activities almost entirely.
The only public event to take place on Wednesday is a panel titled “Femicide in Film, Television and New Media,” which will discuss the artistic and media representations of violence against women. The panel will include filmmakers Aida Begić, Vanja Juranić, Kumjana Novakova and Ademir Kenović, and actor Nadine Mičić.
Earlier this week, Croatian director Vanja Juranić dedicated the festival screening of her film “Only When I Laugh” to the victims in Gradačac. “This film is a universal story about a woman trapped in a patriarchal environment. Despite being a victim, she is active and tries to change the situation, as happened in reality in Gradačac, and that’s why we want to dedicate this screening to the victims of this great tragedy,” Juranić said at the screening.
In a statement, the festival said: “We will observe the Day of Mourning with dignity, sending a message of ‘Solidarity with all victims of violence against women.’”