Kiss the Future is a documentary that focuses in part on the music scene in Sarajevo, U2’s activism, and the post-war U2 concert.
I can’t argue with the Tribeca Festival for selecting Kiss the Future as its opening night selection. The opportunity to have the likes of Bono and The Edge walking the red carpet is a no-brainer. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are producers. However, I went into the film expecting a bigger focus on U2. We get that focus eventually but the first third of the film is mostly setting the stage for what will follow. Until U2 started getting involved and speaking out during their concerts, you couldn’t blame Sarajevo’s residents for thinking nobody cared about them. Meanwhile, Bill S. Carter’s efforts went a long way in making sure that the citizens were not forgotten–so much that U2 invited them to join in on the concerts. After the war, they would stage a massive concert in Sarajevo.
To set the stage here: following the breakup of Yugoslavia, the Siege of Sarajevo–aka the Bosnian War–would begin in the 1990s. It would last from 1992 until 1996. Serbian president Slobodan Milošević would eventually see his own downfall and with the UN charging him with crimes against humanity. But anyway, there wasn’t much attention until NATO finally got involved in 1995. After NATO began taking action, the war would swiftly come to an end.
What we have in Kiss the Future is mainly a documentary about defiance and the role that underground music and art played in Sarajevo’s residents to create change and draw global attention during the Siege of Sarajevo. To say that music and art played a huge role is not an understatement. Thanks to the likes of Bill S. Carter, they did a solid job on getting global attention, especially during U2’s ZOO TV Tour. Of course, U2 came up during the Troubles in Ireland so one can understand their need to engage. But also, they were fighting an uphill climb against ethnic nationalism. Watching this film is a sad reminder that something similar is going on with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Bill S. Carter, who co-wrote the screen story with director Nenad Cicin-Sain, bases the script on his own memoir, Fools Rush In: A Memoir. It’s a fascinating story–one that I knew nothing about when I was growing up. I mean, I was familiar with the war just because of it being covered on the news, especially in its waning days. However, I knew nothing about the U2 aspect of it all. The film marks the first time that audiences are able to watch the high-quality footage of the U2 concert. In all honesty, I’m surprised we haven’t seen a documentary about U2’s concert. The film makes sure to have the main subjects on screen to reflect on what was happening in the early 1990s. Who would have thought that an aid worker would be the one to reach out to U2 and even get to interview Bono?!?
The concept of nationalism itself is something that never seems to go away. We’re seeing it rear its ugly head in America and Europe right now. It’s a concept that we tend to associate with the far-right political parties. But anyway, there’s no reason to think that such a conflict will not happen again.
Kiss the Future is a long-overdue documentary about the power that music has during times of war, particularly in Sarajevo.
DIRECTOR: Nenad Cicin-Sain
SCREENWRITER: Bill S. Carter
FEATURING: Bill S. Carter, Christiane Amanpour, Vesna Andree Zaimović, Senad Zaimović, Enes Zlatar Bure, Alma Catal Hurem, Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton,
Kiss the Future held its North American premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival as the Opening Night selection. Grade: 4/5
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