Scream For Me Sarajevo


 

It’s easy to be cynical in times like the ones we currently find ourselves in.

The idea that music can change the world, or possess any real power beyond its ability to entertain can seem a little farfetched at the best of times. But that’s exactly what Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson’s 1994 show in Sarajevo proved, and watching this documentary about it reminded me how much hope music can bring to the people who need it most. Also, never thought I’d feel envious of a city full of people besieged by war, but my god, did the rest of us miss a party.

Here’s the lowdown: Despite the horrors and dangers of the Bosnian war, Bruce Dickinson agreed to play a show for the people of Sarajevo which was under siege at the time. Scream For Me Sarajevo retells the story through not only Dickinson and his band, but also the crew that risked their lives to make the show happen, as well as the local fans who attended. The term ‘under siege’ isn’t an exaggeration, either. Sarajevo was in the midst of a full-blown war, with its citizens being killed every day by relentless shelling and sniper attacks. The city was completely obliterated. The band arrived with no security, and no reassurances they would make it out alive.

Image from the show in Sarajevo, 1994

Even once Dickinson and his band arrived in the country, they were told they were no longer able to fly by helicopter to Sarajevo due to security concerns. But instead of cutting their losses and heading home, Dickinson took matters into his own hands, managing to score a ride to the gig in the back of a truck owned by the humanitarian group The Serious Road Trip. The truck happened to be this rickety old thing painted bright yellow, with Looney Tunes characters like Road Runner painted on the side. They legit drove this thing through frontlines and high security check points with the singer from Iron Maiden in the back of it. The whole thing is so rock n roll it hurts. It also made me realise that it really is true: they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Can you imagine any bands doing this shit today? Me either.

Image from the show in Sarajevo, 1994

For many of the lucky ones who witnessed the show, it still remains the best night of their lives. Reliving it brings tears to their eyes, and, as one audience member puts it, “For those few hours, there was no war for me.” As you’d expect, the documentary features incredible archival footage of the show, which after watching, one can only deduce was the greatest rock concert of all time. There’s also some pretty heavy footage of the war and the toll it took on the people of Sarajevo, which makes the whole story that much more inspiring. And though I wasn’t a fan of Dickinson and Iron Maiden growing up, I’m sure as hell a fan of them now.

Scream for me Sarajevo is in select cinemas across Australia from April 17. Visit demand.film for session times and to pre-purchase your tickets.

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