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No Man's Land


Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Two soldiers, one Bosnian and one Serb, are trapped in a trench in the middle of no manÕs land. The situation is complicated when a second Bosnian, presumed dead, wakes from his comatose state. He's been placed on a 'bouncing mine', which will kill them all if he moves.

The two enemies are forced to work together to somehow escape the situation. At the same time, other groups are engaging in their own efforts to deal with the situation. A French UN peacekeeper pursues his own frustrating quest to help the trapped soldiers. He enlists the support of an aggressive news reporter, who is determined to find a story. Higher UN officials are more concerned with saving face, and show little regard for the lives at stake.

The film initially concentrates on the fraught relationship between the two soldiers, desperately trying to work through their prejudices in order to save themselves. Later, it exploits some of the larger issues of our time. In particular, it concentrates on the role of international peacekeepers and the helplessness of the UN, but also the part played by the media. At two points in the film, one soldier forces the other to admit that their side started the war. The reason? ÒBecause I have a gun and you don't.Ó This draws an interesting comparison with the way power is exercised in global affairs.

The film was written and directed by Danis Tanovic, a Bosnian documentary filmmaker, who has filmed much material on the front line at Sarajevo. This may explain why the film is so startlingly realistic, to the point where lighter moments serve to make the situation seem even more tragic.

This is a fantastic film that thoroughly deserved the Oscar for best foreign film. It is an unmissable and powerful portrayal of an often-misunderstood conflict.

Bethan Thomas

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Autumn Term (35mm)