Una Gunjak is a London-based film editor who was born in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1986. She graduated with a BA in Film Studies at the Universita’ degli Studi di Torino in 2008 after which she earned an MA in Editing at the National Film and Television School in 2010. Describing herself as a “sensitive listener, passionate storyteller, [and] devoted worshiper of the moving image,” she has flawlessly transitioned from editing films to directing and writing her own with the premier of “The Chicken” in 2014. Her first film has subsequently won numerous awards, including The European Independent Film Festival’s highest honor – Best European Independent Film 2016.
Brief intro! Tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Una and I make films.
What was the inspiration for The Chicken?
My childhood and growing up during the Bosnian war was my main ispiration. It’s a very important time of my life that has changed me profoundly. Besides, I did get a chicken once for a birthday.
Give us a brief overview of your successes The Chicken.
It really has been amazing and much more than I have ever hoped for. We won the EFA, we premiered at the Critics Week, we screened in Sundance, we screened at New Directors, New Films – all that on top of many other incredible festivals. Most importantly people have seen it, reacted to it, remembered it, were moved. That is why we make films, for people to be moved emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically.
How did you feel when your script was announced a winner in ÉCU’s script competition?
Incredible. I saw it by accident while on work in my then studio in London. It was completely out of the blue. Needless to say I didn’t do much work for the rest of the day.
What’s happened with The Chicken since you won ÉCU’s short script sector?
Nothing. Sadly nothing at all. I had to wait for another year to secure the funding by pitching for the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize in order to move ahead.
How does it feel to have The Chicken gain the traction that it has?
I am pleased and happy and it has given me huge opportunities that I am grateful for. But I am not dwelling on it nor am I identifying myself with it. It would be fundamentally wrong.
Describe yourself as a creative. What about you makes you do what you do?
I don’t know how to answer that. Impulse, need, hunger… we can romanticize about it to make it sound sexy. It’s not a secret mystic process – it’s a private one.
What was your track record like in terms of successful productions? Has success come easy to you thus far?
Depends what you define as success. Success as in succeeding in delivering your message, emotion with your form of art and being happy of how you did it – that has never been easy and it requires very hard work and a lot of emotional escavation and dedication.
How would you describe working in creative profession?
Most liberating and most imprisoning at the same time.
Any advice for fellow creatives?
Be honest with yourself and your work.