A little late with this review, the DVD dropped last week, but I wanted to give it a proper watch and it’s been hard to find the time to plop myself down for a full ninety minutes recently. Because that’s the rough playing length of this documentary, and the amount of time and attention it deserves.
Scream For Me, Sarajevo tells the tale of a gig. One gig. But a gig in a warzone. An actual, under active fire, bombs and bullets warzone. Bruce Dickinson and his band of the time, Skunkworks, took the brave step of trying to entertain the civilians of Sarajevo as their city underwent the longest military siege in recorded history. This isn’t his story. It’s theirs, the people of Sarajevo.
It also isn’t just a film you can pop on and have in the background, partly as so much of it is not in English, and subtitled. The film-makers have interviewed many people with memories of the Bosnian War for Independence, most of whom were quite young at the time. Despite this, it’s painfully obvious how much the conflict and the memories it brings back still affect them. Yet, bizarrely, some people found it to be the best time of their lives – they lived each day to the fullest knowing it could be their last, organised concerts and shows wherever they could as a way of saying “fuck you” to those who were shelling their homes. They could – would – go on.
Then two UN representatives had a bright idea. Why not see if someone from outside of Sarajevo could come and put on a show? The person they ended up in contact with was one Bruce Dickinson, at the time not in Iron Maiden and enjoying some success as a solo musician, and somehow they convinced him that all would be fine. Because why not, eh?
The majority of the film details the planning, organisation, journey and pitfalls surrounding putting the gig on. It’s made up of many snippets of interviews, including Dickinson and his bandmates, glued together in perfect fashion to blend the ups and the downs, the laughs and the scares.
What makes the whole documentary interesting is hearing the tale of the conflict from both the inside and outside perspectives. The emotional rollercoaster runs throughout, with the main focus not being on the music but on the people – as it should be.
Scream For Me, Sarajevo isn’t just a film for Iron Maiden or Bruce Dickinson fans. It’s a film that should be watched for the historical tale it tells. We’re supposed to learn from history, and to prevent certain events re-occurring. I certainly learned a lot about an event that took place during my own childhood. Highly recommended.
Scream For Me, Sarajevo is out now.