WE LIVED OUR ORDINARY LIVES (19', The Netherlands, 2012)


"A deeply personal exploration of the impact the war terror has on an “ordinary” person. Images in which a young girl - that was 6 years old when the war began - is recollecting things from her childhood are interlaced with guilty pleas from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, showcasing the absurdity of an interethnic conflict, in which those who used to be neighbors and friends have become aggressors and victims. Without having seen any actual war scene, it is the war that paradoxically becomes the real “protagonist”, contaminating society with big words like state, nation or religion, while generating hate and violence. Yet another unsettling immersion in the anomalies of our contemporary world, signed by the interesting Dutch visual artist DAYA CAHEN – author of NASHI (BIEFF 2010) and BIRTH OF A NATION (BIEFF 2011) – the film traces the painful way in which a human being may forever lose its trust in humanity." (Adina Pintilie, BIEFF 2012)

Director: DAYA CAHEN

With the support of:



Screenplay: DAYA CAHEN




World Sales



020 - 7582351




Director's contact: daya[at]cahen[dot]nl



DAYA CAHEN was born in Amsterdam. She is passionate about photographs, videos and video installations. She studied photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam (2002-2006). Cahen’s work revolves around propaganda, indoctrination and mass psychology. She investigates the representation of political icons, symbols of power and the role of the masses versus the individual. She often uses a personal perspective to explore social and political developments within society. Her work was screened at Moscow MoMa, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Centre Pompidou, Wiels Contemporary Art Centre, Nederlands Foto Museum, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, IDFA, and Rencontres Internationales and was nominated for a Golden Bear (short film) at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2007.


Oberhausen 2012  / New Horizons Film Festival Poland 2012 / Netherlands Film Festival 2011


"Maybe I should have been a basketball player, but I didn't go to trainings. Maybe I should have been a musician, but I never went to music school. Everything went in another direction. War has different forms.” (DAYA CAHEN)


“Conceived as a trychotomic portrait of a woman, WE LIVED OUR ORDINARY LIVES plays with the form and content of filmmaking. The split screen heightens the feelings of the central character: leitmotif-details like the obsessive nail biting or the inconstant blinking betray the fragility of a woman who struggles to recollect her memories of the life lived during the war. Stylistically similar to a symbolist poem, by flirting simultaneously with visuals, sounds and olfactory senses – which recreate memories of the war, this documentary seems a synesthesic experiment.  Paradoxically, without showing any war scene, war becomes the invisible main character of the film.  This social essay portrays, from a personal point of view, an indelible facet of terror and its irreversible traces.“ (Ioana Mischie, BIEFF 2012)