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No Man's Land

Director/Writer:Danis Tanovic
United Artists; R; 97 minutes
Release:12/01
Cast:Branko Djuric, Rene Bitorajac, Filip Sovagovic

A chillingly realistic war tragicomedy from a Bosnian director who previously shot hundreds of hours of documentary war footage? Yes indeed. No Man's Land is just what the doctor ordered, a powerful antidote to jingoism.

The first half underscores war's absurdity with an existential setup that Samuel Beckett would approve of: a Bosnian soldier (Branko Djuric) and his Serbian counterpart (Rene Bitorajac) are stuck in a trench between enemy lines. With them is an injured soldier on top of an active mine. Nobody can escape, and the hurt man cannot move without setting off the explosive.No Man's Land received the Best Screenplay award at Cannes for its honest mix of insight and humor.

The second half expands outward as U.N. peacekeepers, international media, and other soldiers all take an active, self-interested notice of what's happening in the trench. As deceptively simple as a scar, No Man's Land updates the war movie genre into relevance.


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