Coming of Age stories have been shot since there is a film industry, but they fascinate people since we found a way to show things that interest us. What does make a person grown-up? What is the moment when a child starts filling in those grown-up shoes, few numbers too large? Una Gunjak in her debut feature locates that event at the end of primary school, pointing to the fact that those generations are more into sex than we are comfortable to admit. 

Excursion by Una Gunjak, the film that won Special Jury Mention at Locarno Film Festival, will be screened tonight at 9 p.m. at Cineplexx Sarajevo as part of BH Film Program. 

Iman (Asja Zara Lagumdžija), a pupil of final year of primary school, while playing truth or dare, finds out that an older boy told his friends he had sexual intercourse with her and decides to confirm the gossip. In a blink of an eye, the gossip takes a life of its own and in the end even come to teachers and management of the school, threatening excursion (the school trip) that pupils should take at the end of school year. 

Gunjak, whose debut short Chicken (2014), won the European Film Award for The Best Short Film, in her feature debut shows directing maturity that doesn’t stem from the directing experience she gained in short films in previous 10 years, but from her work in editing and television as well. 

Excursion is a meditative film that partly reminds us of Romanian New Wave. The story develops slowly, without any major leaps and in shots long enough to make us feel like we are getting into the skin of our young protagonist whom we are not able to protect or understand. Lots of times, camera is behind Iman, showing her walking through the groups of children she doesn’t fit in. And, while spiral of school “yellow pages” untangles, audience will have a tough time getting ready of nausea, a bit because of identifying with the protagonist and discomfort of the first love (often not only first)  and everything we are ready to do for it, and a bit because the directors leaves us with the enough time to think about the fact that all of this is happening amongst the children. 

This film deals with the society we live in but doesn’t patronize. One of Iman’s school friends says to the other girl during the discussion that she is educating herself, not judging like her and that is what Una Gunjak does as well. She focuses on a girl who is entering the confusing world of male-female relationships and leaves her enough time to “digest” everything she does and consequences that steam out of it. Discomfort that stays somewhere deep in our stomachs, comes out of director’s decision to include grownups with their paranoias and tactics in the story carefully turning a mirror to the audience.