French Selection 2020

Talking with the Dead

Parler avec les morts

Taina Tervonen

2020France67 min


Twenty-five years after the war, a mass grave was discovered in northern Bosnia. Darija Vujinovic travels around the country searching for families of the missing. She gathers their memories and the four drop of blood needed to identify the bodies…

In a pine forest in northern Bosnia, stones are being cleared from a hillside. A new mass grave was discovered there in 2017, twenty-five years after the war. Among the police officers and the families scattered around, scientists in overalls are inspecting the bones. Later in their laboratory, they will attempt to reconstitute entire bodies, which then have to be identified. For several years in the upper third of the country, Darija Vujinovic has been in charge of conducting these arduous searches, with ever-diminishing resources, travelling across the country from house to house, meeting families waiting for their missing to be identified, taking four drops of blood from the living for the laboratory and filling in the antemortem forms while listening to their stories of war and disappearance. Taina Tervonen’s film follows the investigations at a rhythm dictated by the extreme dignity of such a technical and solemn task. From the laboratory to the secret of these families, it involves obstinate and literal reconstruction. The reconstruction of corpses, the reconstruction of the missing bond between the living and their dead, while the film patiently reveals a clear image of the time that, in truth, is required for a war to end. This is the time that Darija Vujinovic travels through just as she travels through the Bosnian countryside among the families worn down by their waiting.

Jérôme Momcilovic

PRINT SOURCE: TS Productions,

  • Taina Tervonen
    Taina Tervonen (b. 1973) is a Finnish film maker and writer based in Paris. Talking With the Dead is her first feature film, after two webdocumentaries. As a writer, Taina has published several books in Finnish and French, including Au pays des disparus (Fayard, 2019), which won the Louise-Weiss award for the best European feature story in 2019, and Hukkuneet (S&S, 2019), nominee for the Finlandia prize of the best non-fiction book the same year.

  • PRODUCTION : Delphine Morel (TS Productions)

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