Cam in Film: Finding Family

Chris Thomas 24 January 2014

Finding Family, a film by Oggi Tomic and Chris Leslie, is an independently produced documentary (directed by Leslie) that follows the story of Oggi Tomic, a Cambridge resident who spent his formative years as an orphan growing up in war-torn Bosnia.  Now a happily married UK resident, Tomic would receive a phone call which would both turn his life upside down and act as the seed for this documentary: contact, after twenty-seven years, with the family he thought he had lost.

Born with water on the brain and abandoned at birth in the maternity ward of a small medical institution, Tomic's childhood consisted of being housed in various orphanages before finding himself, aged only nine, in the middle of Sarajevo, a city in the midst of the longest and bloodiest siege in modern history.  Herein lies the tension of the piece – Oggi's family, it turns out, are Serbian in origin, and thus could well have taken part in the shelling and sniping that tore his city apart.

However, whilst it is set to the background of this divisive political issue, Finding Family is, at heart, a deeply personal film.  A straight-forward, linear structure and first person voice over from Tomic himself provide the film with a simple narrative, with no-frills camerawork and editing complimenting the stripped down tone of the documentary.  This simplicity is perhaps the documentary's greatest strength: it allows for easy access to what is essentially the fascinating story of one man attempting to find his place in the world.

The question of identity is the main theme of the film. Whilst it documents the life of an individual who had witnessed the horrors of war (and provides the audience with some insight in the form of news reports and shaky video footage), Finding Family illustrates that growing up without a sense of belonging can be more damaging than any bomb or bullet.

Finding Family received a standing ovation at its premiere at the 2013 Sarajevo Film festival will be screened at the Sindh Film Festival in Karachi, Pakistan on 10-11 February. A screening in Cambridge is also planned for March.

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