Peace Festival ‘23: Preserving Peace and Mutual Respect

More than 40 young people from different parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) will take part in Peace Festival ‘23 from February 23 to 26 this year.

The Festival will be held in Vitez, in Central BiH. This is the second Festival organized by the Post-Conflict Research Center and Balkan Diskurs, with the aim of contributing to the preservation of peace by focusing on art, diversity, and human rights.

Velma Šarić, president and founder of the Post-Conflict Research Center, says that for the second year in a row, they will be bringing together young people from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina and helping them to appreciate important values, such as multiculturalism, diversity, and human rights through art and other activities that appeal to young people. In the course of this event, participants will have the opportunity to learn about and contribute to the preservation of peace.

One special feature of this year’s program is a visit to Žepče to honor civilian victims of war at a unique monument that stands as a testament to the past and an assurance of the future, representing the mutual respect and understanding of the suffering of all citizens. 

The Festival will open with the screening of the documentary film “Colorless” by Aida Gavrić, which focuses on the ‘non-aligned’ members of Bosnian society – that is, those who come from mixed marriages and thus do not belong to any of the three constitutive peoples and are labeled as “Others.” They were born out of love between different peoples and are often considered remnants of the principles of brotherhood and unity which collapsed with the previous system. 

The PCRC documentary “Ordinary Heroes” will also be screened at the Festival, shedding light on the real-life stores of Bosnian citizens who became heroes by choosing to save the “other” during the war and genocide of the 1990s. In addition, young people will have the opportunity to watch the documentary film “The Little Prince,” by Jasmina Đikoli and Muris Beglerović, which was shown at the AJB Doc Film Festival. It tells the story of ten-year-old Ante from the Bosnian town of Vareš who is the only student attending school in the village of Oćevija at the foot of the Zvijezda mountain. 

The musical part of the program will include Bosnian hip-hop artist Kontra, who ahs been working in the rap music industry for 19 years and is a member of Dlanbeatz and FM JAM collective. During “NEVER THE SAME FOREVER with Kontra,” young participants will have the opportunity to listen to several independent releases and mixtapes of this star. They will also talk with Amra Pindžo, a human rights activist, about the importance and impact of music on peace building processes for individuals and communities.

Ordinary Heroes Awards for Moral Courage will be given to Robert Decešin, whose short tourist film was chosen as the best and is entitled “Why Bosnia and Herzegovina can be the number one tourist destination in the world”, as well as Katheryne Bomberger, the Director General of the International Commission on Missing Persons, and Branka Vierda, Director of the Croatian Youth Initiative for Human Rights.

The program will also include a panel discussion, where young people from different parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina will discuss and share their perspectives on peace, as well as the presentation of MIR Magazine, authored by the youth correspondents of the multimedia platform Balkan Diskurs.

“On the Margins,” an educational multimedia program developed by PCRC and the OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina which confronts negative stereotypes about the country’s Roma community, will also be launched as part of the Festival.

As a partner of the Festival, the Vitez City Youth Theater will perform the play “Contract,” directed by Marko Mirković and produced by Ivan Sajević. The play stars Emin Šahdan, Leo Lukić, Ivan Žuljević, Iva Šakić, Hanka Salkić and Pavla Plavči. 

Peace Festival ‘23 is being held in the Čardaci Ethno Village, with the support of the Slovak Agency for International Development Cooperation (Slovak Aid), the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Rockefeller Brother Foundation, and the OSCE Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The partners of the Festival are Ethno village Čardaci, Al Jazeera Balkans, and the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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