Asja Makarević

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Before arriving to Amsterdam, I had worked four years as a project manager of the Sarajevo Talent Campus, an educational and training platform of the Sarajevo Film Festival. This programme, commenced in collaboration with Berlinale Talent Campus and Berlin International Film Festival, invites every year 60 emerging filmmakers from Southeast Europe to a seven-day intensive series of lectures, workshops, practical tutorials, and debates. After having been surrounded by aspiring filmmakers at the festival, I felt a dire need to deepen my knowledge of film theory. I chose to take a time off from work and dedicate one year to studying film.

I’ve always wanted to live abroad and study in both an international and academically stimulating environment. The online programme description of the MA programme in Film Studies at the University of Amsterdam provided me with an insight into the content and structure of courses. I remember quite well how excited and nervous I felt reading it. Excited because it seemed to be precisely what I’d been looking for, and nervous because I wasn’t sure if I was up for the challenge. I eventually applied and was successfully admitted. I was also awarded with the Amsterdam Merit Scholarship, which further convinced me that the UvA was the right choice.

I was quite impressed about the way the programme was implemented. Most of the time we had weekly readings, which were followed by lectures, film screenings, workgroup seminars and discussions. At the end of each course, we got to write a paper related to the previously introduced and discussed theoretical approaches. This way we got to thoroughly comprehend the relevant subject matter and develop our own critical points of view. Studying at the UvA felt like a treadmill running. The weekly readings and work assignments kept me mentally fit. At the UvA, students are constantly encouraged to study, research, discuss and exchange insights with the professors. I believe that the learning process itself is what matters most there.

Within the programme, students are invited to learn about current tendencies and approaches such as neuroaesthetics of film, media archaeology, film theory with regards to body and senses, and relation between image and memory.

If I could give some sort of advice to future students it would be to be aware of the assignment and paper deadlines, take advantage of the open communication lines existing between students and professors, purchase their bikes early on, learn to ride them fast and get used to the fact that Dutch do not have a proper lunch during the day. In addition, students should take into account that Amsterdam is a rather expensive city to live in. They should therefore plan their expenditures well in advance.

Beside the programme that I found engaging on so many different levels, thy city of Amsterdam proved to be too beautiful, if that’s at all possible. It felt like living in an open-air museum. The streets, canals and architecture continued to impress me whenever I cycled to the University through downtown. The markets are vibrant and colourful, and the cultural offering is immense. Dutch people are also very friendly. It just felt right being in Amsterdam.

Upon my return to Bosnia, I have tried to position my practice within the context of newly gained knowledge. It has helped me to understand better the contemporary practice of filmmaking in Southeast Europe, as well as the need to strengthen the role of media literacy within the region. It has motivated me to expand the existing programme of the Sarajevo Talent Campus while enriching it with workshops for film critics.

In the future, I would like to pursue an academic career, and subsequently combine it with my work at the Sarajevo Film Festival.