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Silver Bear-Winning Bosnian Roma Dies in Poverty

Nazif Mujic returned to collecting scrap iron in Bosnia after Germany rejected his request for asylum.

20 February 2018

Nazif Mujic, the Bosnian Roma who won a prestigious prize for his role in a multiple award-winning film, has died in his home village of Svatovac.


Mujic, 48, had fallen into poverty and suffered from ill health in recent months, AFP reports.


Mujic won a Silver Bear for best actor at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival for playing himself in Danis Tanovic’s semi-documentary An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker.


The film depicts Mujic’s life as a scrap iron collector and recounts how his family was turned away from Bosnian hospitals after his wife suffered a miscarriage.



Although the partially fictional story of his family’s hardships brought several awards to Tanovic, the Oscar-winning director of 2001’s No Man’s Land, Mujic never transitioned into success. After a failed attempt to win asylum in Germany, he was forced to return to gathering scrap metal for a few euros a day in Bosnia, AFP says.


Mujic sold his Silver Bear award for about $5,000 last year.


"First I sold an old car, then some personal items, and then it was the Bear's turn," Die Zeit quoted as Mujic as saying. 


He traveled to Berlin ahead of the annual film festival to tell festival staff of his sufferings, but returned before the festival started on 15 February when he was told he was liable for a fine dating back to the time of his family’s asylum application in Germany, AFP says.



  • Estimates of the Roma population of Bosnia vary widely. The Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees put the figure at 25,000 to 30,000, while acknowledging this was probably too low, according to a 2013 UNICEF report (pdf). The European Commission’s estimate was 50,000, and Bosnian charities said it could be 80,000 or more.


  • In 2016, Human Rights Watch said Roma remain "the most vulnerable group" in Bosnia, facing "widespread discrimination in employment, education, and political representation.”


  • Mujic's funeral will be held tomorrow, AFP cites his brother Suljo as saying.
Compiled by Savannah Delgross
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