Interview with Zoran Catic, director of The Intent

Zoran Catic is neither a journalist nor a movie director. But, as he says himself, “He does journalism.” He has been a radio host for more than 30 years and everyday tries to create magic moments for his listeners, to make them laugh or cry. 

With his one-minute film The Intent, Catic makes us reflect on the recent Bosnian conflict, and on the way local adults and children deal with it nowadays. The short film takes place in a living room and portrays a young girl playing a war video game on the sofa. Close to her, her father reads the newspaper. The young girl starts asking her father questions about his own experience as a soldier during the real war. But the last question, “Did you want to kill somebody,” is left unanswered… 

We asked Catic a couple of questions about his intentions behind The Intent.


The Intent focuses on the way former soldiers have to live with the memory of the recent war, and how they must explain it to their children. Could you elaborate on this? What is children’s perception of the war in your country?

The Intent is above all a true story. It is the experience of my friend Adnan Hasanbegović. It has been on my mind somehow for seven years now, and I was trying to figure out the best way to tell it so it would create the strongest reaction. From this point of view, I think I succeeded, or at least I'm satisfied. This is actually my life philosophy and my own reaction to the war and post-war experience. The way I see it is: my memories, experiences and the frustrations that have been growing in me for the past 20 years are things that mustn't affect my son or his life – or the life of any other child. They are not to blame for what we have gone through, and we cannot lead them through life based on what we think is right. We have to help them to develop their own conclusions through their own experiences, and try to be there for them so that they don't make the same mistakes. The perspective in the movie is actually reversed. The Intent talks about how simple a child’s view of the world is. The girl in the film is not interested in the political or military context of the war, she is not interested in who is responsible; the only thing she is interested in is whether her father had the intent to kill.

The words “war” and “game” can be easily associated with each other, even though they exist for two completely different reasons: the first brings death and destruction, while the second should entertain, or even educate. Why did you decide to bring these two elements together in your film?

Perceptions of the war are different depending on the position or the time you look at it from. Twenty years after the war, I came to the conclusion that for me it was much easier to live during the war than in today's society, which is supposedly at peace. “The game” at a time of war was much fairer. Today, it is very clear that the war I was in was a game, but a different one – the game of the big and powerful. They decided on the rules of that game, and everything that we thought we controlled was actually deiberate control of us in favour of their interests. Still, a child's perception in every way scrutinises the perfidy of your actions, which leads you into a situation in which you can justify yourself by saying that you didn't know certain things, but you can't say that you do not know whether or not you had the intent to do evil things. 

That primal honesty still lives within you until you decide to destroy the child within you and to “grow up”. I think about that a lot when I look at my son while he is playing because the point of his fun, of his play time, is to have fun and to educate himself, and there are no hidden intentions. 

06 October 2014, by Cineuropa Shorts