This film, opens on a young man, perhaps 33 years old, telling of his experience in 1992. He has managed to survive by merest chance. That his chances were slim is evident from the rest of the film.
We meet the inhabitants of Ahatovici, a Muslim town a few kilometers from Sarajevo. In 1992 the town was attacked by Serbian forces. Their defenses were worn down quickly and the townspeople were taken to a men's and a women's concentration camp. The men were systematically tortured over many days, some were murdered in the camp. Eventually, the ones who were left were forced to lie down in buses "like sardines in a tin" and driven off, ostensibly to be "exchanged." Instead, the Serbs stopped the buses, threw in hand grenades and set the vehicles on fire.
Eighty-percent of the men in the town were dead at the end of it all.
The filmmaker, Heddy Honigmann, intrudes very little. After we meet the young survivor at the beginning, an older man drives through the town pointing out where men lived, their names, and whom they've left behind. We then meet the widows, sisters, grandmothers and daughters, who tell their stories in their own way. Most show little objects left behind by the men (one man's plastering tools, another's torn t-shirt); some show objects found when the men's bodies were exhumed from mass graves.
At the end, the old man walks through the cemetery, touching the individual stones and telling a little about the men that he knew--two of them his own sons.
The glimpses we have into these shattered lives is unforgettable.
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