War Stole My Mother’s Dream. 30 Years Later, She Returns to It.


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War Stole My Mother’s Dream. 30 Years Later, She Returns to It.

Aug. 25, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ET
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By Aleksandra Bilic

Ms. Bilic is a documentary filmmaker.

In 1992, during the Bosnian war, the siege of Sarajevo began and would last for nearly four years. My mother, Maja Bilic, fled the city with my grandmother, my brother and me, leaving behind her childhood piano and her dream of becoming a composer. She focused her energy on building a new life in Britain for our family, and her hopes for her career as a musician were set aside.

For 30 years, over a thousand miles from her beloved piano, my mother was never able to return to composing. Somehow, though, the piano survived the war, sitting in a nearly empty apartment as a remnant of a life she lost.

The short documentary above is a collaboration between my mother and me. I follow her as she returns to her piano and plays her own music on it for the first time in decades. For my mother, the music unlocks the past, reminding her of both the joy of her life in Sarajevo and the pain of leaving. Her composition becomes the score and the crescendo of the film.

Editor’s Note: “The Score” was independently produced by Ms. Bilic and fully funded by WePresent, the digital arts platform of WeTransfer.

Aleksandra Bilic is a British-based filmmaker, writer and producer originally from Bosnia.

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