London International Monthly Film Festival - London
‘’Seven Thousand Souls’’ is the outstanding and extraordinary documentary by Sanjin Miric. This piece of artistic history is about the story of the lost 7,100 men that never left the Austro-Hungarian training camps, after the Great War. Miric succeeds to deliver an all around great film that combines story telling and education, emotionally drained and with a great message.
Firstly it has a very important premise, this multi awarded documentary was also funded by the Serbian Ministry of Culture which clarifies the historical accuracy of the events. The production design quality excellence is obvious despite the suprisngly low budget of 40,000 EUROS, considering there is a huge plethora of flashbacks, costumes, special vfx and locations.
The directing is energetic, brilliantly holding a great pace throughout the film without overstaying itself. There is no dialogue on the representative historical flashbacks but you can feel the scenes. The beautiful script is accompanied with sweet visuals, well done cinematography and color grading.
There is nothing negative to say about this film, everything is rightly done with only one questionable choice, the final quote by J.F Kennedy that suggests to forgive but never forget. This quote captures the rapid Balkan spirit that is always war hungry yet we would love to see a quote from Serbian or orthodox literature and philosophy.
However, this is secondary as we witness an amazing dramatic war piece.
We cannot wait to see what is next for the director Sanjin Miric.
International Symbolic Art Film Festival, Saint-Petersburg
It is a very uncomfortable subject to speak on. But speaking about it is a necessity,
especially nowadays. World War I aligned with World War II are still very sensitive
topics in all countries-participants. Every family has a story to tell, every family has a great grandfather or great grandmother who sacrificed a lot during these devastating events.
That’s what makes it so personal.
But no matter how hard and how uncomfortable this subject actually is, it’s really important to reanimate those events in our memories every once in a while to make sure those heroes are not forgotten and their noble purposes are captivated with great gratitude.
That is definitely something to thank the Director of this film for.
That being said, let’s try to analyze the movie itself. Being a director in contradiction to being a historian means while telling the same exact story to appeal to the feelings of the watcher besides providing dry information. It’s just more likely to find a response in the hearts of the young generation who is getting less and less connected to those events.
And it seems to be the goal of “Seven thousand souls”.
Narrator puts in the spotlight civil heroes of labor who generally get much less attention than soldiers themselves. All the stories mentioned in the film are very personal, each character has a face, a life, his own heroic path through the war. That raises the level of compassion drastically.
A lot of priceless photographs demonstrated in the film serve the same cause - to raise the compassion, to literally engrave those images in our memories, and some staged scenes to raise that bar even higher.
It ends with the quote by John F. Kennedy: “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names”, I’d say, that sums up the movie perfectly.
We have received the judges’ results for the IndieFEST Film Awards 2020 Humanitarian Awards, and we are excited to inform you that
you have won:
Award of Distinction
Seven Thousand Souls
Your production was hand selected by our judges and staff, from the entire pool of entries to the competition throughout 2020, as a film that represents both the spirit of humanitarianism combined with quality filmmaking craft. IndieFEST receives thousands of submissions each year.
You can be justifiably proud of this honor!
The judges feel strongly that this year’s nominees brought light to many important global topics. In addition to the Grand Prize winner, the judges have included three additional levels of Humanitarian awards so they could honor a broader group of dedicated filmmakers that conveyed so much talent and passion for their subjects.
We honor and thank you for that.
We firmly believe that film can make impactful changes globally and the IndieFEST Humanitarian Awards are designed to give recognition to those illustrious filmmakers whose craft and message enlightens and inspires audiences to make a difference!
We appreciate the extremely important work you are doing to raise awareness and shift global paradigms. We are truly grateful for your talented filmmaking and dedication and we honor YOU, as a filmmaker, for bringing awareness to the critical issues of our time.
Once again, we not only congratulate you, we thank you for your efforts to make a positive difference in our world and we wish you continued success in your career as an award-winning filmmaker.
It is truly our honor to recognize your contribution to the world.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of service to you.
The IndieFEST Film Awards
La Jolla, California
FILM REVIEW by Head Programmer Andrija Jovanovic
TITLE: 7000 Souls
In the review of the film directed by Sanjin Miric, we take into account its two main aspects: the
subject of the film and its form.
"7000 Souls" is a work dealing with historical theme related to the Great War, but unlike most documentaries of the genre that pay attention to military and political history, crucial battles and political intrigues, the work of director Miric has as its subject an ordinary man, caught in the terrible whirlwind of war, who is often ignored and pushed aside, in favor of "great" events and prominent figures. In fact, this man is a true portrait of the world at a given moment, a world destroyed and teared apart by destruction, a world which has turned against itself, in which human qualities are pushed to the extreme like heartless atrocities on the one hand and true benevolence and self-sacrifice on the other.
The war that came to Serbia in 1914 is mostly interpreted through the prism of initial military successes against a far superior enemy, followed by the suffering of the army and the military and state leadership during the withdrawal through Albania, recovery in Greece and breakthrough back to the homeland. History has long (intentionally or accidentally) neglected an entire stage of an occupied country, whose army withdrew and was forced to leave it at the mercy of the enemy. There is also little evidence of the fate of many civilians and soldiers captured and missing during all four years of World War I. "7000 souls" is therefore an important testimony, having as its theme the forgotten story of these often nameless victims, whose fate remained unknown to their descendants and who were in fact the soul of the country plunged into the chaos of bloodshed. Taking as its theme the fate of prisoners of war, both military and civilian, deported and placed in the Jindřichovice and Broumov camps in the Czech Republic, the author draws attention to these suffering commoners, whose fate reflects the image of the epoch, state of mind, similarities and differences between societies and people. By researching this story at the source, the director manages to revive forgotten destinies first hand and documents them by creating invaluable material for future generations. In addition to the recorded historical data, he draws the material for his film from the personal stories of the descendants, both those whose ancestors went through the hardships of captivity, and those whose ancestors witnessed this suffering, developed ties and friendships with prisoners that continued long after the madness of war has ended. This is another proof that people are the ones who make the world, not the politics and games of powers, and that when all the storms subside, it is always people who remain after them, anonymous, dedicated to their simple lives and loved ones. All these people are recorded in extraordinary and shocking photographs that the director found and weaved into his story, images that cannot be found in
textbooks and history books, and are invaluable treasures with portraits of men and women, fellow prisoners who shared life in the camp, their moments of rest, hard work, difficult conditions in which they had to survive, while their faces are carved with emotions that do not leave the viewer indifferent. All this, along with statistics, reports, anecdotes and individual cases, forms a rich tapestry that revives the story of captured Serbs who never returned to their homeland, but were buried together in the second largest Serbian mass grave in the world.
When it comes to the form of this documentary, its structure can be observed as one of a collage. In order to more accurately reconstruct the story of Serb prisoners in Austro-Hungarian camps, the director used a variety of tools and techniques, including interviews, archival images, as well as staged scenes and confessions of prisoners, based on the original letters. Given that the topic is related to the events a hundred years ago, there were no living witnesses or survivors, the choice was limited to descendants who could be reached and who themselves barely possessed any more information about the fate of their ancestors. The information is therefore mostly extracted from historical material, texts
and photographs, and the entire approach to the film is journalistic. In order to better convey the essence of the story and effectively bring it to life for the film audience, staged scenes were inserted into the film, in which the actors took on the role of prisoners and their Austro-Hungarian guards. This is a standard technique, typical primarily for television program of historical and archival content.
Today, however, the question of its actuality can be posed. We are witnessing innovation and experimentation, especially in the field of documentary film, where in order to study the medium and its ability to manipulate and convey the story, new techniques and approaches have been applied in the field of research and documenting stories, editing materials, merging genres that produce new hybrid forms. Essential questions are asked about the very ability to reconstruct and pass the story, about the general subjectivity, the mechanisms of experience and the ability of the medium to convey or imitate these mechanisms. We can ask ourselves of how successful is the mixture of authentic interviews and shown photographs on the one hand and staged scenes on the other hand in communication with the modern viewer, already familiar and accustomed to bolder, more experimental approaches and forms. How much such a structure contributes to the authenticity of the story itself, and how much it pushes it into the domain of storytelling with the ambition to be instructive, suggestive. The consequence can often be the complete opposite of the intended effect. The story itself is extremely moving and offers a lot of space for the viewer to communicate with it on different levels, so that any additional underlining of its drama seems to actually diminish its effect and steal from it the authenticity so disturbingly
recorded in the photos shown. Therefore, the question arises whether such a relevant and valuable content of "7000 souls" requires perhaps a different form, more reduced and pragmatic, focused on conveying its content to the viewer while preserving all its fragile facets, without the attempt to accentuate and enhance anything.
The review is written by DEIFF jury.
How many wars were there? How much more will it be? War is death, chaos and injustice. People with their own free will go where there is no turning back, because they believe that they owe their country. This is also the opinion of Sanjin Miric, who wrote the following words in his film review: “A film that I owed to my nation”. I must admit that, in our subjective opinion, Sanjin managed to tell an honest story about the horrific events in the Austrian and Hungarian camps, where there were sixty thousand prisoners of war. A good, classic documentary work that contains artistic fragments, the emotions of the surviving participants, as well as the opinion of historians. The artistic component looks true thanks to the excellent costume design and cinematography. Excellent acting and dynamic storytelling, which makes this documentary lively and filled with emotions that are perfectly conveyed to the viewer right through the screen. It is a movie about war, not the loudest and not the most famous, but any war is death in the flesh, which takes thousands of lives, which need to be reminded with so many clear and high-quality works, like the picture of Sanjin.
Nowadays, we probably too often observe films about war and its victims. All of it or hard, emotional, sentimental, and extremely important. This film directed by Sanjin Miric is one of the greatest examples of national treasure. The movie perfectly presents all the importance of memory and respect to ones that lost their lives and those who survived. Everything here: deeply developed story, great picture, costumes, make-up, acting - puts the viewer into a horrible atmosphere of fear and, despite everything, hope. Also, this film is that accurate, which makes it more than just a story - this is history, real people, real pain, real lives. Watching the audience is put into that time, and „Seven thousand souls“ easily can make people think about something that’s really crucial to remember - heroes of the war. The director made a movie that is very easy to feel, but in which it is almost impossible to get too emotional. The task is not easy, but in its way noble - to start a conversation about the victims of the war today, giving respect to the heroes, probably never late. The director really walks along a fine line between the main sins of the canon - on the one hand, he does not fall into drama, on the other, he does not limit himself to dry documentation. As a result, a film is released, the main task of which, it seems, is almost the same as that of his own hero: to survive and try to preserve at least some remnants of conscience in this world.
SEVEN THOUSAND SOULS
film directed by Sanjin Miric
Masters of cinema - REVIEW
„Must be remembered“
Данас вероватно пречесто гледамо филмове о рату и његовим жртвама. Сви су тешки,емотивни,сентиментални, али и изузетно важни. Овај филм редитеља Сањина Мирића један је од највећих примера националног блага. Филм савршено приказује сву важност сећања и поштовања према онима који су изгубили животе и онима који су преживели. Дубоко развијена прича, одлична слика, костими, шминка, глума -ставља гледаоца у језиву атмосферу страха и, упркос свему, наде. Такође, овај филм је толико тачан, што га чини више од обичне приче – ово је историја, стварни људи, прави бол,стварни животи. Публика је увучена у то време, а „Седам хиљада душа“ лако може да створи гледаоца који размишља о нечему што заиста не требамо заборавити - хероје рата. Редитељ је направио филм који је веома лако осетити, али у који је готово немогуће и ући емоционалне. Задатак није лак, али на свој начин племенит - вероватно никад није касно започети разговор о жртвама рата данас, одајући поштовање херојима. Редитељ заиста иде по танкој линији између главних грехова рата – с једне стране не упада у драму, а с друге стране, он се не ограничава на суву документацију. Као резултат тога, излази филм, чији је главни задатак, чини се,готово исти као у сопствених јунака: да преживи и покуша да сачува бар неке остатке савести у овом свету.
СЕДАМ ХИЉАДА ДУША
филм у режији Сањина Мирића
Masters of cinema - REVIEW
„Никада не заборавити“
What is war? The full answer to this question is: we can understand the plot of the film and the thoughts of the author on this topic, which he transferred to the script.
War is first and foremost a revolution. These are the boundaries that will adjust between the past and the future, keeping pain, suffering and tears in their wake. All this described by me can be seen by looking at the wartime design. Directing a film on the conditions in which people lived.
To tell the truth, in the plots of skeptical judgments, myths and unconfirmed stories. But the further I watched the film, the deeper I got into the terrible footage of the war, thereby I technically did not pay attention to these little things.
But there was no time. After looking at the version of the picture, I began to search for information on the Internet and immediately better understand this issue about the plot of the film.
Although I never liked History, but I was still captivated by the touching ending of the film. I won't tell you the plot, you'd better see for yourself.
The musical accompaniment struck me very much, it puts a lot of pressure on emotions, and literally evokes feelings, those feelings, sufferings and emotions. Moreover, there are several moments when real goosebumps come from the ascendant.
In general, the film will be useful for everyone. And it will be interesting for children to learn about the military affairs of that time, young defenders of the motherland will especially like this film. It must be understood that the film is more of a documentary and requires entertainment content. I recommend it for viewing.
Review from AIFF jury “Seven Thousand Souls”
“Seven Thousand Souls” is a great example of a classic non-fiction piece that could have landed successfully on any history channel. Sanjin Miric has created a very hybrid film that exemplifies the "documentary" genre. 58 minutes of running time will not tire the viewer with constant static interviews or the usual slideshow with a behind-the-scenes historical story. Sanjin balances well with a lot of story variation. “Seven Thousand Souls” has both classic static interviews and slideshows, and most importantly, it dilutes it all with artistic inserts that give this picture the status of a large project. Huge praise to the costumers and those who were responsible for the scenery in this project. Sanjin and his team realistically recreated footage of events that took place over a hundred years ago, which helps to keep the viewer's attention and feel the story. By the way, about history. Many wars and disasters have happened and are happening on our planet, which have been talked about, are being talked about and will be talking about. However, Sanjin talks about events that are still not well known too many to this day. A huge number of Serbian and Russian soldiers suffered in the terrible events of the “Great War”, and Sanjin really felt it was his duty to tell this story. It turned out truthfully, naturally, and honestly. These are very important aspects when creating a good documentary. As well as the technical aspects, which Sanjin has no problem with. I would also like to note the huge amount of work done in the search for reliable information that the picture provides in a language accessible to any viewer. Summing up, we managed to watch a documentary, historical and military film, which in all aspects meets certain standards of its genre and will be useful for those who are interested in the history of various European countries, for those who want to know how cruel people can be during the war and those who just likes to develop and get a lot of new information when watching a movie.
Arrow International Film Festival, Paris, France