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Bosnia & Herzegovina and the Bosnian Collections in the Library of Congress

Motion Pictures and Recorded Sound

Selection of Bosnian publications in the fields of broadcasting, cinema, and television. Library of Congress General Collections.

A survey of the Bosnian collections in the Library of Congress would not be complete without some mention of audio-visual format materials. Two reading rooms provide access to recordings, fiction and non-fiction films and TV programs from or related to Bosnia or former Yugoslavia: the Moving Image Research Center and the Recorded Sound Research Center. Each research center is the primary point of contact for materials in their respective formats, especially given that so much of the materials in audio-visual formats are not fully cataloged and findable via the Library of Congress online catalog.

The Moving Image Resource Center holds a number of interesting items related to Bosnia, but overall the collection is not strong for non-news footage. Most of the content described here is the work of creatives born in Bosnia, but with different ethnicities -Serbs, Croats, or Bosniaks. A good example of this is Let's Make Love (Hajde da se volimo), a musical comedy from 1987 that was directed by Aleksandar Đorđević, a Serb, but starred Lepa Brena, a Bosnian Muslim actress originally from Brčko. In a similar vein, the film collection also contains films directed by the Sarajevo native and declared Serb Emir Kusturica, such as Time of the Gypsies (Dom za vešanje) about Roma people in Sarajevo and Italy, and When Father Was Away on Business (Otac na službenom putu) about a boy growing up during the early Tito era when his father was sentenced to time in a forced labor camp. Some of the feature films in the collection which were produced after Bosnia and Herzegovina became an independent country include titles such as Biće, biće about Bosnian guest workers in Germany and Cirkus Columbia, based on the novel of the same name by Bosnian Croat writer Ivica Đikić.

Outside of the fictional realm, the Library of Congress has collected quite a number of current events recordings from the Yugoslav War period in the 1990s originating from news sources in the United States such as CNN, ABC, and CBS. Examples include the ABC News program Bosnia 101--Who lives there? Who died there? Why are we there?, episodes of Nightline from the period, and footage of the signing of the peace treaty in 1995.

As with all other kinds of materials from Bosnia described in this guide, it will also be beneficial to search for materials under subject headings related to Yugoslavia, not just Bosnia. For example, the Library also holds documentaries about the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s such as Roots of the Yugoslav Civil War and Memories do not burn. All of the materials in this collection must be used onsite.

About the Moving Image Research Center

The Library of Congress began collecting motion pictures in 1893 when Thomas Edison and his brilliant assistant W.K.L. Dickson deposited the Edison Kinetoscopic Records for copyright. However, because of the difficulty of safely storing the flammable nitrate film used at the time, the Library retained only the descriptive material relating to motion pictures. In 1942, recognizing the importance of motion pictures and the need to preserve them as a historical record, the Library began the collection of the films themselves; from 1949 on these included films made for television. Today the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS) is responsible for the acquisition, cataloging and preservation of the Library's motion picture and television collections.

Recorded Sound

Sound recordings of Bosnian music are held by the Recorded Sound Research Center. Over one hundred titles from Bosnia and Herzegovina or with a Yugoslav connection can be found in the Library of Congress online catalog by conducting a search limiting the results to the location of Recorded Sound. One collection strength is Bosnian folk music with many examples of both instrumental and choral music such as recordings of sevdah music by the musical group Divanhana and of Safet Isović performing with the Narodni orkestar RTV Sarajevo. Also present in the collection are recordings of Bosnian Sephardic music such as Memories of Sarajevo by Bosnian American vocalist and composer Flory Jagoda. Bosnia: Soufi chanting of Sarajevo is a pertinent example of an audio recording related to Bosnia's longstanding Muslim heritage.

The Library's holdings of Jugoton, the Yugoslav recording studio established in 1947 in Zagreb, include several examples associated with Bosnia such as Narodne pjesme iz Bosne with vocals by Emina Ahmedhodžić-Zečaj, and accompanied by the Tamburaški orkestar RTV Sarajevo. Bosnian pop and rock music are not covered in the collection to the same extent as folk and ethnic music. Likewise, Bosnian and Herzegovinian classical music is not well-represented, but there are some recordings of the performances of the Sarajevo Philharmonic.

Lastly, the Recorded Sound Research Center holds recordings associated with books, regardless of subject. For example, a book of poetry by the Bosnian scholar and poet Ḥasan Kāfī Āqḥiṣārī Kafija: poetska posveta Hasanu Kafiji pruščaku was published with an accompanying sound recording. From more recent times the Bosnian War in the 1990s inspired works dedicated to its victims and also appears as a frequent topic in audiobooks or interviews by political figures such as The Clinton tapes.

All of the materials in the Recorded Sound Research Center must be used onsite.

About the Recorded Sound Research Center

The Recorded Sound Research Center provides access to the commercial and archival audio holdings of the Library of Congress. The collection dates from 1926 when Victor Records donated over 400 discs to the Library's Music Division to supplement its print and manuscript holdings. In the custody of the Motion Picture Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division since 1978, the collection has grown to include over 2 million items encompassing audio formats from cylinders to CDs.