Once an Alien

2023, science-fictional documentary, 82 min, BH/NL

A science fictional documentary about rootlessness and time travel, starring my 81 year old father Mirza Bekirović

Once an Alien

In her first feature film, the science-fiction documentary Once an Alien, visual artist Semâ Bekirović follows her father to the country he fled as a child. Mirza is an inventor and has a special fascination for time travel. Together they travel by camper through Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country has changed much, since Mirza left. If he wants to visit his motherland, he will need a time machine.

Along the way they move through imposing landscapes and meet different people. In these encounters it becomes clear that Mirza bonds with them not because they share the same “blood”, but through a shared sense of displacement, a nostalgic longing, the desire to go back to another time.

Personal stories are interspersed with surrealistic scenes. Mirza talks about his traumatic childhood, about his inventions and theories. He wears a “time travel suit” that consists of mirror-like fragments of CDs. Gradually the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred, and a patchwork of different perspectives unfolds. It becomes clear that art and creativity are not a game for Mirza and Semâ, but a means to survive.



Once an Alien isn’t just a moving portrait of a father as seen through his daughter’s eyes. The film also subtly depicts the severe effect that trauma can have on a human life, and how creativity and imagination can be tools for survival.
Joke de Wolf, De Groene Amsterdammer

In the beautiful new film Once an Alien (a ‘science fiction documentary’), Bekirović and her father go in search of his memories.
Anna van Leeuwen, De Volkskrant

Must see! In her first feature film, the science-fiction documentary Once an Alien (2023), Semâ Bekirović follows her father Mirza Bekirović through Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For the Balkan diaspora Once an Alien is more than a mere travelogue. It is a point of recognition. Moreover – for someone without such a background – the film is a thought experiment on time travel.’
Lena van Tijen, Metropolis M

Not your average feature film, but a special and entrancing film.
Saskia Monshouwer, Jegens en Tevens

The irresistible thing about Sema’s film, is how she allows her father to shine, the way she enables him to show his own universe.
Maurits de Bruijn, Mister Motley


De Groene, Once an Alien is not only a moving portrait of a father through the eyes of his daughter, the film subtly portrays the weight that trauma can have on a human life.

Volkskrant: Artwork of the week, with your father, looking for the past in the beautiful new film by Semâ Bekirović

Art Forum, Must see!

Jegens and Tevens, Creativity as a tool for survival

Parool, Weekend tip

With (o.a) Mirza Bekirović, Muhamed Muminović, Sava Kecojević, Ferida Abdagich, Mubina Alibasić, and Vejsil Čomor.

Edited by Diego Gutiérrez, music by Eilander (Marcus Bruystens) , sounddesign Selle Sellink, assistant director, Tobias Mulders, colouring Laurent Fluttert.

Thank you, De Korte Verbeelding (Mondriaan Fonds, Filmfonds), AFK, Tijlfonds, Rozenstraat (a rose is a rose is a rose), Kamen, Kuma, Selver Učanbarlić, Amer Duzić, Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan, Damir Deljo ,Samra Bekirović. Lotte Geeven, Janneke Raaphorst, Maureen Ho, Pjotr Boomgaard, Jan-Pieter Karper and all amazing people who donated through our crowdfunding campaign!

Installation view at Rozenstraat, a rose is a rose is a rose