October 1, 2018  (Web Review)

Scream for Me Sarajevo

(2016) 95 min. DVD: $12.98, Blu-ray: $17.98. Eagle Rock Entertainment (avail. from most distributors).

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

One of the weirder footnotes in the tragic war that blew apart the former Yugoslavia during the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton years is told in this oddly uplifting documentary. Filmmaker Tarik Hodžić’s Scream for Me Sarajevo tells the story of a heavy metal rock icon, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, who received a call in 1994 from the United Nations inquiring as to whether he would trek to war-torn Sarajevo and put on a concert for besieged Bosnians. Unclear about what he was getting into, Dickinson agreed and called in a couple of musician buddies to also head east. From that point on, nothing was predictable: a helicopter didn’t appear at an appointed time and place; the band hitched a ride in the back of a truck; and Dickinson’s path to his one-night-only goodwill show became increasingly convoluted and perilous. All bemusement aside, the film also offers ample, horrifying footage of Sarajevo dwellers living in surreal circumstances, trying to go about their lives while snipers and shells pick off innocent people on the streets. Whether or not one cares about heavy metal, the sustained carnage witnessed onscreen reminds us all of the nightmarish days of Baltic atrocities. But Dickinson’s experience offers a unique window into that horror show, culminating in a heroic effort to bring some catharsis to young Bosnians. Along the way, viewers meet some unlikely characters linked to these events: a veteran U.N. ambassador, a retired British major, and some of the now-adult kids who were there on that 1994 night when Dickinson raised the roof. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh)