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As If I Am Not There (2010)

 -  Drama  -  4 March 2011 (Ireland)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 571 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 15 critic

A harsh dose of cinematic realism about a harsh time-the Bosnian War of the 1990s-Juanita Wilson's drama is taken from true stories revealed during the International Criminal Tribunal in ... See full summary »

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Title: As If I Am Not There (2010)

As If I Am Not There (2010) on IMDb 7.3/10

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5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Samira
...
The Captain
...
Jasmina
Sanja Buric ...
The Nurse
Irina Apelgren ...
Alisa
Zvezda Angelovska ...
Halida (as Zvezdana Angelovska)
Nikolina Kujaca ...
Mirsada
...
Doctor
Angela Stojanovska ...
Samira's Sister
Zoran Trajkovski ...
Samira's Father
Sofija Kunovska ...
Samira's Mother
Elpida Pakovska ...
Village Neighbour
Ivo Stojanovski ...
Village Neighbour's Husband
Filip Pesov ...
School Boy
Jana Mircevska ...
School Girl
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Storyline

A harsh dose of cinematic realism about a harsh time-the Bosnian War of the 1990s-Juanita Wilson's drama is taken from true stories revealed during the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Samira is a modern schoolteacher in Sarajevo who takes a job in a small country village just as the war is beginning to ramp up. When Serbian soldiers overrun the village, shoot the men and keep the women as laborers (the older ones) and sex objects (the younger ones), Samira is subjected to the basest form of treatment imaginable. Written by Palm Springs Internation Film Festival

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Drama

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4 March 2011 (Ireland)  »

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Ireland's official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 84th Academy Awards 2012. See more »

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Gritty drama
4 December 2013 | by (Huddersfield, England) – See all my reviews

Juanita Wilson's portrayal of events in the Bosnian War (1992-5) focus primarily on women and girls as opposed to men or soldiers fighting in the conflict. The central character is Samira (Natasa Petrovic) who leaves her parents and younger sister to take up a teaching post in a remote rural village. She settles in well to her new life but one day smoke is on the horizon and gunfire can be heard. The Bosnian War has begun and soldiers descend on the village separating the men from the women and children. While the men are executed, the women and children are transported to camps where they remain prisoners throughout the war.

While it's clear that many of the prisoners are subjected to labour, we follow Samira's own path as she is one day chosen to live with a small group of women, sealed away in a remote building and summoned at regular intervals to be raped by groups of men. Women of all ages and even young girls are subjected to this ordeal and Samira's first experiences sees her both beaten and raped by a trio of men. The title of the film resonates in this scene as Samira reflects on her ill treatment and how she is just a plaything rather than a human being. Samira remains strong though and catches the eye of the camp commander (Miraj Grbic) who takes her as his lover and she comes to receive some preferential treatment. The question is can Samira survive the war and will she make it back to her family?

As If I Am Not There swaps the bloody conflict of war for the suffering of the innocent civilians, in this case the women and children. After a pleasant opening it becomes a gritty and often unpleasant drama with the prisoners being shown no mercy, especially a young girl who Samira comes to care for. Petrovic is excellent in the lead, conveying a remarkably strong and independent woman in Samira, one who somehow withstands everything that is thrown at her and she emerges as something of a leader by the end. Though we witness the end of the Bosnian War it is only the start of a new battle for the women and children that have lived through it. There are no real happy endings, no magical cures here, simply harsh reality. The only downside to the film is it feels somewhat unfinished in its conclusion but perhaps that is an apt reflection of the scars war leaves on a nation and its people.

As If I Am Not There is a brutal but well-acted film that looks at the lives of civilians caught in the middle of a war they did not desire or start. The mass rape that was prevalent during the Bosnian War is explored here and we have victims that we will both pity and admire for their strength and resolve in surviving such a terrible ordeal. While the conclusion may seem to be missing something, this is still a compelling drama about a dark period of modern history.


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