‘Kiss the Future’ Review: Seeing U2 in Post-Siege Sarajevo

‘Kiss the Future’ Review: Seeing U2 in Post-Siege Sarajevo

On Sept. 23, 1997, the rock band U2 performed to thousands of fans in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the year after the 1,425-day siege of the city by Bosnian Serb forces ended.

“Kiss the Future,” Nenad Cicin-Sain’s smoothly calibrated documentary, is partly a timeline of how this concert came to be and partly a sketch of life in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. This is history told through emotions as much as through well-documented events, conveying both the resilience of Sarajevans and the power of pop music (without falling into too much celebrity self-regard).

People who lived through that time, especially cultural figures, recount how unthinkable the war and siege felt to their diverse, vibrant city. Snipers meant death was always near; a Miss Sarajevo pageant and an underground music scene helped express the city’s defiance.

In the early 1990s, U2’s “Zoo TV Tour” concerts featured Sarajevans via satellite, beamed onto giant screens. (Bill S. Carter, who is credited with the film’s screenplay, figures prominently here first as an aid worker, and then as a U2 whisperer.) These guest appearances began to feel like a stunt — but not so for U2’s 1997 Sarajevo show, which Bono recalls as uplifting.

That concert comes across as a true catch-in-the-throat moment of symbolic celebration, opening with a Muslim choir and a local punk band. In a way, it’s U2 playing the emotional role of its classics, where Bono’s yearning voice and an echoing guitar can sound as though they’re reaching out to us across troubled waters.

Kiss the Future
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. In theaters.

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