• James Rutherford

'No Man's Land': A Compelling Bosnian War Film About Opposing Soldiers Stranded Between Enemy Lines


Movie poster for the Bosnian film No Man's Land starring Branko Đurić and Rene Bitorajac

No Man's Land (Ničija Zemlja) (2001) is a gripping and darkly comedic war drama set during the Bosnian War (1992-1995) and centered on a Bosniak named Čiki (Branko Đurić) and a Serb named Nino (Rene Bitorajac) who become stranded abreast between enemy lines. Enclosed in a crude trench, the two trade barbs and verge upon fisticuffs while anticipating the fall of nighttime upon the battlefield.


Complicating matters is the presence of a 3rd soldier, a Bosniak named Cera (Filip Šovagović), who awakens nearby to find himself atop a landmine—making any movement on his part catastrophic for all of them. As U.N. sergeant Marchand (Georges Siatidis) attempts to intervene, despite his orders to stand down, an English reporter (Katrin Cartlidge) arrives to the scene as well—bringing media attention and pressure to the increasing ordeal.


Written and directed by Bosnian filmmaker Danis Tanović (Cirkus Columbia, Death in Sarajevo), No Man's Land is an enthralling and emotive tale of historical combat, given a shot of darkly sardonic humor that underlies the absurdity of the character's predicament. The unlikely camaraderie that develops between the principals lends an air of magnanimous humanity, even as their ultimate fates swing in the balance, with Tanović delivering one of the most striking and memorable international films of the 21st Century.

 

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