This intimate portrait really does strip away any layers of façade that its audience are perhaps only reminded of by the slightly stilted performances - to be expected from a family reliving a harrowing ordeal. As events seem to conspire against Nazif - his car breaks down, there's a blackout - the tense atmosphere does dissipates a little, meaning that the narrative never truly reaches an emotional crux. Still, it's the hideous bureaucracy and institutionalised racism towards the Roma people in Bosnia and Herzegovina that Tanović is genuinely interested in exposing, which he certainly does.
Audiences may have witnessed a little of the persecution of Roma communities in Filip Marczewski's Polish offering Shameless (2012), but here its full regulated force is vividly apparent. The problem might be that without the wider context offered by straight documentary, or the emotional impact of a straight narrative, An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker - and its message - could slip between the cracks. This hopefully won't be the case, however, as despite its flaws and grim veneer, Tanović's drama makes for compelling and touching cinema with something crucial to say.