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Winner of the Jihlava Film Festival and winner of the Audience Award at the ZagrebDox, this poignant film is an emotional mosaic of memories composed of letters and postcards that bear witness to the war experience of high school students in Mostar.

The director, who was born in Mostar and now based in Zagreb, looks back at his generation’s interrupted youth. “I had many friends before the war; many of them are now dead,” read one of the letters sent to the director by his schoolmates after fleeing wartime Mostar in the 1990s. The letters that arrived at his Zagreb address from refugee camps scattered throughout Europe bear witness to the horror of war, separation, interrupted lives, and forced decisions, but also to the most challenging question that can be asked amid war: stay or run? Interspersed with animation by the artist Marko Tadic that connects past and present, this documentary is a moving dedication to all deserters.

SHOWTIMES | Triple Feature: Ukraine/Mostar Spotlight with Avitaminosis & Waking up in Silence

Saturday, 25 November – 14:00

Sunday 26 November – 10:15

DEZERTERI | 2022 | 45 min | Croatia

PRODUCTIONDamir Markovina – ADU Zagreb
CASTRea Hadziosmanovic, Gabrijela Kasapovic, Boris Miletic, Marko Tomas
EDITINGDora Slakoper
SOUNDMiroslav Piskulic


ZagrebDox, 2023 – Movies That Matter Award (Special Mention) | Ji.Hlava International Documentary Film Festival, 2022  – Best Central And East European Film; Best Sound Editing | Trieste Film Festival, 2023 – Documentary Competition | Sarajevo Film Festival, 2023 – Nominee Heart of Sarajevo


Deserters is a hybrid documentary essay about my generation – a generation of Bosnian and Herzegovinian high schoolers from the town of Mostar, struck by a devastating war on the verge of their maturity…The refugees describe their flight across the border, their experiences in refugee camps, and their lasting hate for the enemies who took away their homes and youth. A film about a lost generation, exile, difficult choices, and an answer to the toughest question of any war: to stay or to run?


Damir Markovina (1973) is a Croatian film director, producer and actor. He graduated with a degree in acting and later received a master’s degree in film and TV directing (documentary film) at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb. As an actor, he is best known for numerous roles in Croatian films and television series, and as a member of the ensemble of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. Markovina’s drama “Mongols” won the Croatian national award “Marin Drzic” for the best new drama in 2016. He is one of the producers of the internationally awarded film “You Carry Me” directed by Ivona Juka in 2015. In addition to ‘’Deserters’’, Markovina directed the short documentary film “The Shift” and the medium-length documentary film “Wait for Me”, which won the AJB DOC Festival Sarajevo 2021, the main prize of the Pula Film Festival in the student documentary competition, and Oktavijan – the Croatian national award for the best domestic short documentary film.