“Covered” Triathlete Motivates Cronkite Humphrey Fellow to Produce Documentary

Tuesday, March 2


By Dzevida Sadikovic

Slađana Lučić always wanted to make documentaries but she would make excuses instead.

Lučić, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, studied food technology — not filmmaking – in college. She became a correspondent for Croatia Radiotelevision and eventually news editor for Al Jazeera Balkans in Sarajevo, but still no documentaries.

And then she met her protagonist.

Nudžejma Softić worked as a proofreader at Al Jazeera Balkans. She was the first European in a hijab to train for the Ironman Triathlon. She motivated others to set and achieve their goals. She was inspiring, and Lučić knew she had to document it.

“She showed me how important it is to accept the challenge you have been dreaming about, regardless of all obstacles and your own fear,” Lučić said.

Lučić, now a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will discuss the film that she wrote, directed and produced about Softić — “Little Star Rising” –at a virtual event on March 3.

The name of the documentary is derived from the Bosnian term “Kuća Male Zvijezde,” which means “The House of a Little Star” because Softić built her dream from the ground up.

“Little Star Rising” offers a different view of the war-torn, divided country where a hijab-wearing girl is not waiting for change. She is creating it.

The consequences of the war that happened more than 30 years ago are still visible in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many documentaries explain what led to war and underscore the negative side of the region: people live in the past and don’t plan for the future.

“For me, it is a film about hope, optimism and love for life, despite all the hardship we face on a daily basis — all losses and tragedies,” Lučić said.

Lučić wants people watching the documentary “to be inspired in any way their life needs to be inspired.”

Lučić doesn’t have a journalism or filmmaking background. She studied and eventually graduated from the J.J Strossmayer University in Osijek, Croatia with a focus on food technology. While she was a student, she worked as reporter at a local TV station, then as a correspondent for a public TV station and then as a reporter at a national TV station. She is currently news editor at Al Jazeera Balkans.

“My career path was not a linear one. I was a student of something completely different,” she said. “I could not decide what I wanted so I studied natural sciences but worked as a journalist. In the end, it was the passion [for journalism] that prevailed.”

Lučić saw the Humphrey Fellowship Program at the Cronkite School as an opportunity to polish her skills in making, producing and financing the documentaries. So far, she is impressed with the program, she said.

“It is great because we share different experiences and knowledge and we come together – nine of us – from different countries” Lučić said. “It’s very helpful to understand what is the same in journalism and documentaries and what is different. I really like this – learning new skills and a new way of understanding.”

Lučić wants to focus more on documentaries because she said they open a dialogue.

“So, you can talk about issues and life and then you see how similar you are and how you can talk even if you do not agree,” Lučić said. “I like that about the movies.”