NO MAN'S LAND
One morning in June 1993, Čiki (Branko Djurić), a Bosnian soldier, finds himself in a trench in the middle of no man’s land, after a skirmish with Serbs. Two Serb soldiers sent to check out the situation get trapped with him and his wounded buddy Cera (Filip Šovagović). There is no way out without being shot. The Serbs booby trap the wounded Cera so he can’t move. When the younger Serb soldier, Nino (Rene Bitorajac), equalises the stand off with Čiki, he and his former neighbour - now on the opposing side - try to survive in the midst of an insane situation in a hideous war. Journalist Jane Livingstone (Katrin Cartlidge) triggers the involvement of UN peacekeepers led by a well-meaning but frustrated Sgt Marchand (Georges Siatidis) – to little avail.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Riveting from start to finish, No Man’s Land is a concentrated war movie, a war movie like no other. Essentially told through two men from opposing sides thrust into an intimate and terrible partnership, it is an exemplary film of great economy, emotional power and humanity, filled with the eternal truths about humanity’s fatal weaknesses. And it’s often hideously funny, exposing the raw truth about mankind; we are as easily motivated by a prick in our pride as by a pistol at our neck. The action takes place over a single, gut wrenching day. There are not that many bullets fired, except in dialogue, but by sunset we are riddled with angst, consumed by frustration and saddened by our own shortcomings. This is an extraordinary debut by Danis Tanović, an indictment of war as we would expect, but more than that because he develops these soldiers to become fully developed characters – and that goes for all the support roles as well. You won’t forget Simon Callow as the ranking Brit at the UN, or Marchand as the man on the spot, or the agitated war correspondent of Katrin Cartlidge – nor of the devestating stillness of the boobytrapped Filip Šovagović. The leads are all outstanding, giving us the full bore of emotional experience with the fear, pain, confusion, hope and frustration as tangible as the seat you’re sitting in. The ending, the whole film, will haunt you for weeks.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
The Bosnian soldier wears gym boots and his rifle magazine is stuck on with masking tape. The bespectacled Serb he's sharing a trench with is so nervous and inept he looks like he could barely cross the road without tripping over. Welcome to this savagely funny distillation of everything that made the Bosnian war such an appalling and tragic conflict. Bosnia-Herzegovina born writer/director Danis Tanovic archived 300 hours of footage shot on the frontline in Sarajevo and his intimate knowledge shows in the scenario he constructs for this staunchly anti-war commentary. He is wisely not interested in taking sides or even presenting an analysis of how this conflict escalated into such a bloody, protracted mess. His concern is the human face of a war fought by men who shared a common language and may have even been friends or neighbours had things been different. No Man's Land is a chess game played with explosive pieces and meticulously arranged movements of personnel. Around the tense epicentre of the trench there is the compassion of UN ground forces under Frenchman Marchand, the appalling inaction of UN brass in the form of aptly named Colonel Soft (Simon Callow) and the media whose intimate presence, for better or worse, is now as much a part of warfare as guns and bullets. In a film densely packed with savage irony it is the comment of a front-line Bosnian soldier that has embedded itself in my memory. Flipping through a newspaper he remarks to a comrade "what a mess it is Rwanda". No Man's Land, which upstaged unbackable favourite Amelie for Best Foreign Film honours at this year's Oscars, is powerful stuff and not to be missed.
Winner: Golden Globe Best Foreign Film 2002
Winner: Academy Award Best Foreign Film 2002
Winner: Cannes Film Festival Special Jury Prize & Best Screenplay 2001
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NO MAN'S LAND (MA)
CAST: Branko Djurić, Rene Bitorajac, Filip Šovagović, Georges Siatidis, Serge-Henri Valcke, Simon Callow, Katrin Cartlidge
PRODUCER: Frederique Dumas-Zajdela, Marc Baschet, Cedomir Kolar
DIRECTOR: Danis Tanović
SCRIPT: Danis Tanović
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Walther Vanden
EDITOR: Francesa Calvelli AMC
MUSIC: Danis Tanović
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dusko Milavec
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto Entertainment
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 25, 2002 (Advance screenings 19-21 April)
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: AV Channel
VIDEO RELEASE: October 30, 2002