The plot follows Nathalie, who left the former Yugoslavia immediately after the beginning of the wars of the 1990s. Like many other people from this area, she emigrated abroad in search of a better life and a more secure future.
“I understand people who wish to be buried in their homeland.”
Sirin is the International Feature submission for Montenegro. The film opens up in 1993 in Yugoslavia in a small town called Strpci. During the war, military forces from the Republic of Srpska boarded a bus, seizing 20 passengers and killing them, just for having a Bosnian last name. Sanela, now called Nathalie, was on that bus and 20 years later she returns back to her hometown, along with her employer, Valery, to execute a will from one of their clients.
Nathalie has lived in the USA for the past 20 years. She, along with many other youth during that time, fled Yugoslavia in search for a better life. Now back in her hometown, Nathalie needs to make sure that her now deceased client, Sanja Durdevic, who also left her home, is able to get her dying wish of building a chapel on her family’s land. The problem is that her brother, Andrija, refuses to allow the contractors to complete their work. As Nathalie tries to solve this family conflict, she gets the opportunity to spend more time in her town. She begins to remember the life she had before, and when she sees her sister again, Nathalie gets an opportunity to uproot her life again.
Like Nathalie and Sanja, most immigrants who come to the USA come for better opportunities for employment, for a greater degree of freedom, for avoidance of political oppression, for escaping a war, and for the chance of providing better lives for themselves. But with more opportunities, immigrants are also now alone, working, and struggling with having to start all over again. There will always be something that is missing, because one’s home is far away.
But the person they were back in that first home also doesn’t really exist anymore. Their struggles and their triumphs, their experiences and their age have also changed who they are. An immigrant trying to go back home is like a ghost returning to a ghost town. When no place is home then there is nowhere to feel comfortable, and loved. There is nowhere to belong. And Sanja is like that half built chapel, having never felt like an American but not belonging as a Bosnian anymore.
Sirin is a mythological creature that is half-woman half-bird. Likewise, an immigrant, like Nathalie, returning back to their hometown 20 years later can feel like they’re two different identities inside of them: feeling like a visitor and feeling like someone returning home.