As If I Am Not There

Director: Juanita Wilson

With the Academy Award-nominated short film The Door behind her, Irish writer-director Juanita Wilson delivered this haunting, affecting and visceral drama for her feature debut. Taking place in 1992 as Bosnia is plunged into war, the story, adapted from Croatian Slavenka Drakulić 2001 novel, sees young Muslim teacher Samira (Natasha Petrovic) move from Sarajevo to a remote village to replace the previous mysteriously-disappeared teacher. Before long before soldiers turn up, killing the men and moving the women and children to an abandoned airfield. Here, Samira is subjected to a horrific series of rapes and beatings at the hands of the bored, drunken soldiers until she finds cold comfort in the bed of the troop’s captain (Fedja Štukan). An exploration into what humans are prepared to do to survive, Wilson’s patient direction perfectly mirrors Petrovic’s quiet and elegant performance.

Notes by Gavin Burke.
Best Director Award at the 8th Irish Film and Television Awards 2011.
Best Film Award at the 8th Irish Film and Television Awards 2011.

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