In a rare display of unity in their ethnically divided country, Bosnians reveled Monday, in the success of director Danis Tanovic, whose film "No Man's Land" won this year's Oscar for best foreign language movie.
Both in the Muslim-Croat and Serb regions of the country, ordinary people, politicians and Tanovic's fellow film-makers said for once everyone had a reason to celebrate after the devastating war which raged between 1992 and 1995.
Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija said 33-year-old Tanovic's success had projected a new image of Bosnia "not as a country of problems but as a country which has a future, because it has talented and determined people."
"The crown of this success is the Oscar, and Tanovic showed with his example that determination and talent never lose a battle," the minister said.
The film by the Sarajevan, who now lives in Paris, tells a tragi-comic tale of three soldiers -- two Serbs and a Muslim -- trapped in an open trench during the Bosnian war.
One of them is lying on a mine that will explode if he is removed. The United Nations (news - web sites) peacekeepers who get involved are shown as powerless, a view shared by many in Bosnia based on their own wartime experiences.
On a snowy day in the war-scarred capital Sarajevo, taxi driver Mevludin Rakic said he was proud of the film's success.
"I am so excited about the Oscar award and especially about the fact that Tanovic said this is also an Oscar for Bosnia," he said, referring to the director's victory speech.
"MEANINGLESSNESS OF WAR"
In Banja Luka, capital of Bosnia's Serb Republic, taxi driver Dragan, 44, also praised the film. "It shows the meaninglessness of the war here and that ordinary people suffered in it," he said.
Tanovic, who ran the Bosnian government army's film archive during the war before leaving for Brussels to finish film school, shot his debut work with a budget of $1 million raised from several European producers.
Professors and colleagues from Sarajevo university's school of acting and directing said they were overwhelmed by his win.
"The only thing I can say now is 'Thank you, Danis'. He is a legend," Srdjan Vuletic, who studied with Tanovic before and during the war, told Reuters after a modest victory ceremony at the Bosnian film-makers' association.
"This marks the beginning of a new era in Bosnian film-making," said Vuletic, who has won international awards for short movies and hopes to start shooting his first feature soon.
Vuletic said he hoped Tanovic's success would give an opportunity to other budding film-makers to make movies in Bosnia instead of trying to find funding abroad.