Documentary Looks into Sarajevo Football Rivalry

“The Sarajevo Derby is a film at least as much about the city, its history of conflict, and my journey to it, as it is the football rivalry it professes to centre on. It barely even shows a ball being kicked. This is a football film that is not really about football,” wrote Joel Rookwood about his film “The Sarajevo Derby”, released a week ago.

The documentary, shot last year, centers on matches between rivals from the capital, Željezničar and Sarajevo, during which fans usually create a competitive atmosphere with big flags, paper rolls, scarfs and loud chanting. It is not uncommon to see members of the same family on opposite sides, not speaking to each other on the day of the derby, with opposing fans engaging in mutual provocations at the end of the match, eagerly awaiting the next confrontation.

“Being offered a passport to the inner sanctum of one of Europe’s greatest derbies was a privilege, and the three-day visit to Bosnia provided such a concentrated exposure to the region, and particularly the city of Sarajevo, that it took me eleven months to turn the 140 minutes of footage into a 45-minute film. Gratitude abounds for all those who helped make it possible,” wrote Rookwood.

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