Summer, Autumn, WAR, Spring
A 1 hour TV documentary, winner of the first prize at the Barcelona Festival of Television, November 1998
Produced by Abrahami-Netz TV Productions
Languages spoken: English, Serbo-Croat, Dutch
English, Japanese, Swedish, Spanish, Hebrew, German and Dutch versions are available.
In 1993 the war in Bosnia was at its peak. The Serbs were killing the Muslims and the Croats, and both of them were killing each other and the Serbs. And the Bosnian town of Zenica was surrounded by fighting armies. There was no exit. In that year, a history teacher in a school in Zenica told his 12-year-old pupils, a mixed class of Muslims, Croats and Serbs the story of Anne Frank. They took the Diary of Anne Frank from the school's library and read it together. Their big revelation was the similarity between the life of Anne Frank in her closed room fifty years before and their present situation in Zenica. In their mind, the sealed town of Zenica was the room of Anne Frank.
Ton op de Weegh, a school teacher in the Dutch city of Arnhem heard about that letter, and decided to take action. With the help of Major Lasschuijt from the Dutch army, he managed in an intricate operation, involving Erica Terpstra, then a member of the Dutch parliament, to organize a transport of letters and presents from his pupils in Arnhem to the children of Zenica.
Major Lasschuijt, who's been stationed with the UN forces in Bosnia, personally brought these letters and presents to the children of Zenica in July 1993.
Four years later we wanted to find the children of Zenica and trace their history teacher.
Being now 16 year-olds, we wanted to hear from them of their experiences during the war, what they've learned from the war, how the war has forged their views and what they felt when they sent the letter to the Anne Frank House.
What happens to the souls of children going through such horrifying experiences? Has the war instilled in them hatred, or has it taught them the urgency of tolerance? Have they kept their faith in the goodness of Man, as Anne Frank wrote 50 years ago?
We managed to trace their teacher, Borislav Trivunovic, in the Serbian town of Subotica where he is a refugee. He hasn't been back to Zenica and he hasn't seen his parents nor his pupils for almost 4 years. He was forced out of his home because his father is a Serb and his mother a Croat and he had refused to bear arms. He and his wife bribed their way out of Zenica.
In spite of his fears of returning to his hometown Zenica, he finally agrees to travel with us and three days later we witness the meeting with his parents and with the 11 of his pupils, for the first time in 4 years.
These 11 children are the only ones we've met in Zenica. We couldn't trace the other pupils from the former class of thirty-six. They're now 16-year olds. They are suspicious and trust nobody.
Their memories of their own experiences in the war are still playing a great part in their development as grown-up human beings.
There and then we decided to bring these youngsters and their former teacher to Holland for a short visit and attempt to instill in them the trust that youngsters of this age are entitled to have and maybe what's more important, their love for life. It was a complicated and rather lengthy operation to overcome all the unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles but nearly one year after we met the children in Zenica, we managed to bring them and their teacher over to Holland for one week.
During this week in Holland, they visit the Anne Frank House and meet the school teacher Ton op de Weegh and his pupils of Arnhem who sent them letters and presents during the war. They also meet Major Lasschuijt from the Dutch army who personally brought them those presents. Erica Terpstra who by now has become the state secretary of sport and social affairs joins them for a boat trip on the canals of Amsterdam where the Arnhem children and teacher are also present.
They're received by the Mayor of Amsterdam, the Mayor of Arnhem and are invited by restaurants for lunches and dinners, they're guests of an Amsterdam youth hostel and after having been invited to an Ajax football match which they craved most, they actually meet two of the Ajax players. They are invited everywhere and are received with love and care wherever they go. The major Dutch daily newspaper, De Telegraaf, publishes a series of articles about their visit, and presents and donations are streaming, pocket money and even phone cards and disposable cameras...
The generosity and kindness, the total opposite of what they've been exposed to during the war, started their transformation.
Little by little, with each passing day one feels that these youngsters who've lost their childhood to the war, are slowly regaining their trust in people, in themselves, and in the future.
Departing from Holland in tears, they might be carrying with them back to Zenica the ideas of tolerance, of the alternative way of coexistence, the awareness of human rights, which is, in fact, the red thread that goes through the TV documentary "Summer, Autumn, WAR, Spring".
The organizations that helped Stichting Rainbow: Kinderpostzegels fonds, NCDO, Edwin Bloemen, GVB, Swissair, PTT , Telecom BV, Capi-Lux, Arena youth hostel, Rent-A-Bike, Rijks Museum, The Historic Museum of Amsterdam, The Anne Frank House, Restaurant New San Kong, Visser restaurant, Manolo Restaurant, Lovers Rederij, Music group "Cardas", The Pancake Bakery, The City of Amsterdam, Ajax, Arena catering, Restaurant New Bali, de Efteling, Restaurant de Aker THANK YOU ALL!
Broadcasts: United States: December 2000 by PBS Sweden: October 2000, by SVT1 Japan: June 1999 by NHK Austria: January 1999 by ORF Israel: December 1999 by IETV Spain, Portugal and Andorra: September 1999 by Media Park The Netherlands: September 1998, by the EO
Festivals: OJAI Film Festival, USA, November 2001 Athens Festival, USA, May 1999 PRIX IRIS, The Netherlands, May 1999 East Lansing Film Festival, USA, March 1999 Denver Festival of Film, USA, November 1998
The Barcelona International Festival of Television, Spain, November 1998. WINNER OF FIRST PRIZE
The 18th edition of the Breckenridge Festival of Films, USA, September 1998.