This series premieres March 7th

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The Scent of Rain in the Balkans, the first TV series from Serbia released in the United States, premieres March 7th only on MHz Choice!

Premiering March 7!

U.S. PREMIERE! Based on Gordana Kuić’s blockbuster novel, The Scent of Rain in the Balkans is an epic saga that follows the fortunes of a Sephardic Jewish family from 1914 through 1945. Amidst cultural change, political upheaval and the threat of extermination, the six Salom siblings cling to their identity as Spanish Jews and to their commitment to each other.

A Family at the Crossroads of Change

When you start watching The Scent of Rain in the Balkans, it may seem like you’ve landed in a kind of Sarajevo-based Fiddler on the Roof. Five nice Jewish sisters! No husband in sight! It may appear that way, in the first episode, but the story ranges far wider than that. The 14-episode series, which is based on the blockbuster novel of the same name by Gordana Kuić, follows the fortunes of the Salom family from the summer days of 1914, all the way through to 1945. Note: Kuić’s novel has been translated into English, but may be hard to find.

Full disclosure – The Scent of Rain in the Balkans does not possess the finest production values ever seen in a television series. What it does possess in spades, however, is authenticity and an exotic nature unmatched by anything else in the MHz Choice library. It’s a story so big, so unusual, that it seems too incredible to have been made up. In fact, it wasn’t – it’s based on the author’s own family history. Once you meet the characters and enter their world, it’s well worth the journey.

Bosnian market Buka
Serbian war camp

By way of entering their world, one starts with the fact that the Saloms are a family of Sephardic Jews living in Bosnia. That means they’re descended from Jews who lived in Spain and Portugal from the beginning of the Middle Ages until the 15th century, when the Spanish Inquisition forced them out. Some of the Sephards settled in Bosnia, which was then under the control of the Ottoman Empire. There, they found freedom to practice their religion and culture in peace.

More background on Sephardi Jews on Wiki here

Sephardi Jews, Sarajevo

As they fled, the Sephards brought their distinct language and customs with them. That’s what you see in this series, and that’s what makes it so unusual. The language they speak intermittently is Ladino, a mixture of Spanish and various ancient languages. It’s loaded with proverbs and sayings, which the characters quote frequently. The Sephards also held onto their unique clothing through the centuries, as well as their cuisine and their Spanish and Jewish musical heritage.

So as the series begins in 1914, the proud Salom family finds itself living in one of Europe’s most interesting crossroads of religion and culture. Beyond their community they live next to Serbs, Croats and Muslims, within feet of the sounds of Roman Catholic churches, Orthodox churches, and mosques. They are peaceful neighbors and friends with people outside of their cultural group. They do business with them, and their children grow up together. But in a flash, everything changes when the Archduke Ferdinand is killed.

The world as they know it is gone.

Aunts Sephardic hats

As the story moves through sweeping cultural changes and two world wars, one can’t help but notice that the open-heartedness and good relations the Saloms had with people who were “other” served them well throughout their lives. In fact, it helped save their lives. Like all Holocaust stories, this saga has moments of utter heartbreak. But ultimately, it is not heartbreaking. In fact, it’s heartening to see how many times non-Jewish friends and strangers took action to save the lives of Salom family members. Each moment of assistance is like a jewel of humanity and creative thought. That’s not to diminish the fact that the six siblings are the heroes. The threat of extermination was theirs alone, but fortunately for them and for us, they encountered helping hands. Therein lies their brilliance – that they were resilient enough to know how to redefine themselves on the run and and how to take help.

The Scent of Rain in the Balkans is a big, big story – about family, heritage, war, and about living on your own terms.  As it follows the lives of the six siblings, you’ll find that what happens to each one matters, and ends up staying with you for a long time.