“Life is a struggle, true happiness is a rarity. But every man makes his own luck.”
So begins ‘Between Days’.
It was conceived on a plane to Bosnia. It was a shot by the end of that week. It is eight minutes and twenty-two seconds of powerful video.
Nizar Pasalic had no idea that he was even going to film anything as he flew to his grandparent’s home in Sarajevo in October 2011. The only reason he had even brought his Canon was to take some family photos.
But then it hit him.
“On the plane over there it struck me that the story I was so desperately searching for was right in front of me, the story of my grandparents and their current situation. So instead of taking pictures I decided to shoot a documentary.”
Nizar’s grandfather, Abdulah, catches the bus and makes the 90-mile journey to visit Sehaveta in her nursing home every week. He writes in his journal. Alone, in his apartment, he talks to pictures of his family. He misses his wife.
His story is understated, it’s simple, and it’s profoundly tender.
And that’s why this short documentary works so well. Nizar wanted everything to peak at the visit to the nursing home.
“What I wanted to achieve with it wasn’t clear at that point but in the end I wanted to show how two people can stay together and be close even though their life didn’t go exactly as they had planned.”
Nizar spent the first two days in Bosnia planning and the next five days filming. The voiceover was simply captured with his camera’s onboard microphone during conversations with his grandfather.
Filming wasn’t easy, though. He had brought one 32GB SD card that meant he could only shoot an hour of film at a time. “I had to shoot many scenes over and over to make it as perfect as possible.”
In some ways, Nizar says, filming was both the best and the hardest part of his trip.
“It was very hard for me to find a balance between being there to shoot a film and running around with the camera and being there to actually visit and see my grandparents for the limited time I had there. In retrospect I would have wished that we had stayed there a week longer so I could properly enjoy the visit since it was the last time I would see my grandfather alive.”
“I enjoyed working together with my grandfather who I have looked up to and respected all life. Jut learning more about him and his outlook on life was the thing that made all the stress of making the film worth it. Also being able to show the world how great a man he was is very important to me.”
Nizar Pasalic lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. He didn’t know he was going to be a filmmaker. All he knew was that he wanted to create something.
“At that time I didn’t really know in what direction I wanted to go, whether it was photography, video or something else related to design but in the end I found out that filmmaking was my passion”
So how did he get started? He picked up a camera.
“I have always been in love with films but I remember an early memory from my childhood where I saw a film one of my cousins made for a school project and it struck me that it actually was possible for me to get a camera and begin filming myself.”
Nizar graduated from the Nordic Multimedia Academy in 2012, the same year that ‘Between Days’ was nominated for the Vimeo Awards.
“It was great, and a huge surprise really. I never expected so much interest the film, mostly because it’s such a small and simple story in many ways, but I guess it resonated with people mainly because of this.”
He’s currently working on another documentary about his grandparents – this time about his paternal grandmother. “It’s mostly about her coping with the recent death of her husband and about being old really.”
“It’s yet again a really simple story about something quite ordinary in life that awaits most of us but I hope people are going to find it as interesting as Between Days.”
“At the moment I’m getting more and more interested in documentary filmmaking so I’m basically working towards something in that field. I would love to travel the world and make documentaries about ordinary people from different cultures. I believe that most of us have stories that would be worthy exploring in a documentary, and I would love to spend my life searching for these stories and documenting them.”
He has a very simple suggestion for anyone who wants to start telling their own stories worth exploring.
“It’s pretty much a cliche but just pick up a camera and start filming friends and family. Practice on them. Make small documentaries about small things around you.”
That’s how Nizar made ‘Between Days’. A camera, a single SD card, an onboard microphone and a week spent with his grandparents. It’s perfect example of how sometimes the most powerful stories are there to tell, in plain sight, right in front us.