Featured image: Elma Begovic as Nura in The Day We Left. (Photo by Brian Caissie, Courtesy of Elma Begovic and Pender PR.)
In the short film The Day We Left, premiering as part of the Vancouver Short Film Festival running through Feb. 6, Elma Begovic plays Nura, a pregnant mother caught in the midst of the religious conflict of the Bosnian War. As she goes about her daily chores, we hear from radio bulletins that the situation is escalating quickly; and by nightfall, Nura and her family plan to flee Yugoslavia for Serbia, and to find safety amongst their enemies on the other side of the border.
Inspired partially by the stories of a friend of director Kaio Kathriner, as well as some of Begovic’s own experiences; they’re able to create quite the experience in less than 15 minutes, with strong acting and a beautiful pair of shots – one that shows the love of a village, and one that expresses the sorrow of having to leave it behind.
I was able to speak with Elma Begovic for her work in the film, as on top of starring as Nura she co-wrote the film and is one of its producers. To start our conversation, we talk about one of her earlier projects with the horror film Bite and what her family thought of that film, as well as working on the early days of Black Fawn Films in Toronto.
Then we shift into her work with The Day We Left, where we spoke about the writing experience and combining her story with the story director Kaio brought to the table, as well as working on a feature version of the project. We also talk about the therapeutic aspect of writing this film, and more marginalized voices telling stories (“I write because I have to get some things off my chest,” she said). We talked about her acting classes, German Mrs. Doubtfire.
We also talked about getting certain shots on the film and having to travel to accurately show a version of Bosnia while shooting in British Colombia, trinkets of home making appearances in the film, and also working in a writer’s room. There’s more in between, and you can find the full conversation below on YouTube, or find the audio below.
As well and as mentioned, The Day We Left is currently playing as part of the Vancouver Short Films Festival through Sunday, Feb. 6, where Begovic has just won the award for Best Actress.