An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (2013)



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Movie Info

The latest drama from Bosnian director Danis Tanović enlists a cast of non-professionals to reconstruct a harrowing personal ordeal that became a national scandal. Awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Berlin, An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker is a story of courage in the face of hardship and injustice. It revisits the alarming saga of Senada Alimanović and partner Nazif Mujić (recipient of the Berlin Silver Bear for best actor for his autobiographical portrayal). Struggling to make ends meet as a scrap-metal forager in the remote Roma community of Poljice, Nazif's hardscrabble routine becomes a desperate fight for survival when Senada suffers a miscarriage. Without medical insurance or means to pay for a life-saving antisepsis procedure, Senada and Nazif are denied admittance to the local hospital. So begins a hellish ten-day odyssey pitting the couple against social prejudice and a callous bureaucracy, as Nazif scrounges and Senada's condition grows ever more critical. From these wrenching events, Tanović fashions an unflinching exposé of the institutional discrimination faced by Bosnia- Herzegovina's Roma minority. Shot with an unvarnished, verité aesthetic against the bleak backdrop of the Bosnian winter, his film treats its subject with great compassion, providing an intimate, empathetic portrait of dignity amid crisis. His non-professional performers, meanwhile, lend the project a compelling authenticity. The knowledge that they are reliving their own nightmarish memories only bolsters the emotional potency of Tanović's pointed social critique. (c) TIFF13


Critic Reviews for An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (3)

As matter-of-fact as its mouthful of a title, Danis Tanovic's touching social-realist drama An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker offers a modest, low-key glimpse into the struggles of an impoverished Roma family.

May 2, 2014 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Robust and compassionate.

May 2, 2014 | Full Review…

It's all very intimate and convincing ... and the performances are naturalistic throughout. But there's nothing here we haven't seen before.

Apr 22, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Bleak, immersive story of a Roma family struggling to survive by salvaging metal.

May 19, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Tanovic paints a desolate but sadly authentic portrait of stagnant poverty that doesn't even consider the option of rising up in protest.

May 2, 2014 | Full Review…

Gritty fly-on-the-wall footage of family life with his wife Senada and their two young children accentuates the sense of an existence that is barely sustainable.

May 2, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker


Tanovic tells this revolting real story using a welcome verité style and non-professional actors who play themselves, all in a way that invites comparisons with the Iranian New Wave, but his plain, fly-on-the-wall approach may feel distant and prevent us from a greater emotional response to it.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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