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240 Ratings

An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker

Epizoda u životu berača željeza

Directed by Danis Tanović
Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, 2013


A Roma family in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The father Nazif barely makes ends meet as an iron picker to support his family. His partner Senada is pregnant and tends to their home and their two young daughters. When Senada suffers a miscarriage, she needs an immediate treatment, but Nazif can’t afford it.

Our take

After making films in French and English, Danis Tanović (the Yugoslavian director of the Oscar-winning No Man’s Land) has returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina to make this deeply felt social realist drama. Winner of the Silver Bear and Best Actor prizes at the Berlinale.

An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker Directed by Danis Tanović

Awards & Festivals

Berlin International Film Festival

2013 | 4 wins including: Jury Grand Prix

2013 | Special Mention: Prize of the Ecumenical Jury



You might bracket the film as a dirt-flecked piece of contemporary neo-realism with some documentary baggage attached, as Tanovic essentially co-opts a real Roma family for the purposes of the film and, outside of the central drama, much of what we see is a realistic portrait of how these people fight to get by. On a broader level, the film is also a damning indictment of capitalism, particularly as a force which has become divorced from any humanist concerns.
April 25, 2014
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Restrained of most overt stylistic trappings and all the better for it is Danis Tanovic’s An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker, which lives up to the cyclical patterns suggested by the film’s title… Tanovic’s handheld aesthetic pristinely juxtaposes metallic decay with layers of snow and mud, then bisects each composition with the sluggish movements of worn down men.
November 12, 2013
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A significant departure from his earlier work, which I have never been overly enthralled by, this micro-budget film’s merging of documentary and fiction (a Gypsy family in Bosnia essentially play themselves) ensures that, in recounting a scrap-metal merchant’s odyssey through the country’s privatised health care system when his uninsured wife suffers a miscarriage, it stays just on the right side of melodrama.
March 17, 2013
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