︎ Ocean Without a Floor (2023) Link

New York City, Abu Dhabi 

Director, Writer & Editor: Amna Hadzic
Producer: Vid Milakovic
Executive Producer: Amna Hadzic
Supervising Producer: Ana Milakovic
Starring: Grace Kiley, Harriet Veltkamp, Joanna Jagodzinska, Vid Milakovic
Directors of Photography: Cameron Livesey, Kyle Adams 

After excerpts from an old journal are read by her granddaughter, Albertine, a retired novelist with dementia, recalls a lost memory of a person from her past.

Albertine, a retired novelist with dementia, reconnects with her younger self by remembering the memories of both happiness and loss. Her granddaughter reads from Albertine’s old journal with the hope of helping Albertine retrieve a lost memory of an important person from her past, evoking the person her grandmother used to be. As memories continue to resurface, Albertine tries to make sense of the past she relives. Faced with a choice between accepting or suppressing part of her past, the decision she ultimately makes will change the way she sees herself.

“Ocean Without a Floor” is not only a story about what it is like to live with dementia, but it is also a story about a woman who embodies “the ocean”, as someone much more than what the condition makes of her. Despite her struggle with dementia, she is not merely a woman stuck in her physical body without any depth or feeling. Beyond that, this film seeks to honour the complexities and weight of personal memories, as well as their profound impact on our identity.

The choice of the title was inspired by the fact that we know less about the ocean and the human mind than, for example, we know about space. So “the ocean without a floor” is the main character, Albertine, in all of her beautiful human complexity.

I put all of my heart into making this film. The idea for the story came about when I was going through a difficult breakup. It was one of those relationships that once they are over, on a physical and emotional level, feel like a piece of you died with it. As a consequence, the very foundation of my being was shaken up.

My motivation to make this film was to make sense of what I was going through. Having lost myself in grief and not being able to move on for a very long time, I found myself contemplating whether or not I should try to forcibly suppress the memory of this person and a relationship by deleting messages and pictures. The modern way. A very pressing question came up from that struggle: what would that mean to the person I had become until that point, by going through something that was one of the most challenging and yet most transformative periods of my life?

I was on a quest to rethink the meaning of heavy personal memories. In this process, I imagined someone who did not have the choice that I had- I put myself in the shoes of a woman struggling with dementia. My Albertine - the main character in the film.

My objective was to make a film to honour each of our complex individualities and convey the following message: even though the past may hurt we should never choose to forget past experiences that make us who we are.

I shot the principal photography of this film fully independently as a student studying in New York City, together with my producer Vid Milaković. The rest of the film was completed in Abu Dhabi.

Being aware of the responsibility I have as a filmmaker to tell a story about a woman battling with dementia, I first took on very thorough research about what it is like to live with dementia. I worked with Alzheimer’s associations apart from researching on my own. I also dealt with a philosophical question about identity: how much of our past needs to be preserved to identify as the same person we used to be?

As a post-war child from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country that has been deeply burdened by its heavy past to this day, I believe that a different kind of sensitivity towards the topic of memories has been engraved into my personal and artistic identity.

The “involuntary memories” introduced in Marcel Proust’s book “Swann’s Way”, served as one of the main inspirations for the film. Hence, Albertine, the name of the main character. That is also why the film explores the ephemeral and fleeting nature of personal memories. Because they are triggered by different sensory cues (for instance: perfumes, sounds, tastes, or images), involuntary memories have the capacity to make us remember and relive the exact original sensations associated with those memories.

That is why, the film takes on the approach characteristic of the “cinema of senses”, aiming to create a sensory experience and dive deep into portraying the main character’s inner world. The specific triggers for Albertine’s gradual recovery of the memories from her youth originate mainly from an old journal and the two cities she lived in. She is a retired novelist, and hence the very intimacy of the evolution of her handwriting over the years, as well as the style and poetry of her writing are emphasised.

Despite countless challenges in the pre-production and production phases- and perhaps against all odds of two foreign students in New York City producing a film completely on their own - we were driven by a strong passion for filmmaking. The year-long process of making this film was not only a testament to our love for filmmaking but also to a very layered and deeply personal story that we were trying to tell.

As a director and executive producer on the project, I can also say that it was an extremely challenging experience for me to spend all of my student savings on this project; sacrifice and risk a lot to produce this film in New York City. Retrospectively, because of how enriching the whole process was, I would not want to change a single thing.

The film has already been screened at the Sarajevo Film Festival and the New York Shorts International Film Festival.

This film was my remedy, and I hope it can be a remedy for its audience in some way as well. And I also hope the audience will enjoy watching this film as much as my team and I loved making it!

  - Amna Hadžić

WORLD PREMIERE - Sarajevo Film Festival - Official Selection
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE - New York Shorts International Film Festival - Short Film Competition 

The link to a trailer is attached.  At the moment, the film cannot be publicly shared due to the fact that it is being submitted to international film festivals and due to festivals’ strict policies about this.
However, you can contact me and request special access to watch the film in its entirety.