Scream for Me Sarajevo is a documentary regarding Bruce Dickinson’s (of Iron Maiden fame) attempts to make it through war torn Bosnia to put on a heavy metal gig in the under siege city of Sarajevo. It is Bosnian directors Tarik Hodzic’s first feature length film and it offers a different slant on longest siege of a capital city in modern times. It eschews politics and, for the most part, even backstory and instead concentrates on what life was like for the city’s residents in the run up to the concert.
The film take a little while to get going and all the footage and stories of the violence and hardship that the cast of Bosniaks experienced is a little disorientating, as it is shorn of any real historical context. However, it turns out that this is probably quite fitting as Dickinson and his two band mates also appeared to be a bit foggy on the details of the conflict and the hellish, prolonged situation that people of Sarajevo found themselves in. Bass player Chris Dale, in a Spinal Tap moment, remarks “aren’t they holding some sort of War over there?”
The films real saving grace is the quality of the talking head interviews. Prodigious polymath and modern day renaissance man Bruce is, unsurprisingly, a witty and engaging storyteller but everyone else involved from the UN workers and local musicians to the driver who took them over the mountains, was equally engaging. The real star of the show though is the ultra posh military man Major Martin Morris who was the brains behind the whole bonkers idea. He looks a bit like an extremely well heeled Chuckle Brother and sounds like David Brent (he has the crowd cheering oggy, oggy, oggy, oi, oi, oi prior to the gig). However, his drive and determination to give people a few hours of normality and entertainment during such a hellish time is damn impressive.
The film can, at times, be a little reverential of Dickenson but it doesn’t veer into mawkish territory for too long. The VHS footage from the show itself is surprisingly decent, particularly the audio, and it’s nice to see that besides what it represented, it looked like it was a good show in its own right.