As If I Am Not There (18)

Starring: Stellan Skarsgård, Natasha Petrovic
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The Independent Culture

Based on the novel by Slavenka Drakulic, this drama of Bosnian war crimes is about as harrowing as it gets.

Natasha Petrovic plays Samira, a young woman who leaves her native Sarajevo in the early 1990s to teach in a remote hilltop village. When soldiers arrive and round up the inhabitants, you prepare for the worst – which duly comes. The men are taken away and shot; the women imprisoned in an army outpost where the younger ones, including Samira, are repeatedly raped. Irish director Juanita Wilson turns an unflinching eye on the disasters of war – all based on true stories, according to an end title – though their relentlessness has a rather dulling effect after a while. When a 12-year-old girl is raped and later dies from her wounds, one feels too numbed to be able to respond. Petrovic herself gives a piteously wide-eyed account of innocence violated. Not for the faint-hearted.

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