As If I Am Not There

As If I Am Not There an Irish/Macedonian/Swedish co-production. Producers: James Flynn, Nathalie Lichtenthaeler, Karen Richards. Director: Juanita Wilson. Based on a novel by Slavenka Drakulić. Starring: Stellan Skarsgård, Miraj Grbić and Natasa Petrović. 109 minutes. Slovak premiere: 16 November 2011 at 8:30 p.m., KC Dunaj Cultural Centre, Nedbalova 3, Bratislava. In Serbian and Bosnian with English subtitles.

As If I am Not There is tells the story of a young woman from Sarajevo whose life is shattered the day a young soldier walks into her apartment and tells her to pack her things.

Rounded up with the other women from the village and imprisoned in a warehouse in a remote region of Bosnia, she quickly learns the rules of camp life. The day she is picked out to ‘entertain’ the soldiers, the real nightmare begins. Stripped of everything she ever had and facing the constant threat of death, she struggles against all the hatred she sees around her. In a final act of courage or madness, she decides to make one last stand: to dare to be herself. And this simple act saves her life.

As If I Am Not There is a modern war story that explores love and identity. Based on Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulić book, which covers the hearings at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague, Juanita Wilson’s debut feature chronicles a moment in history that must never be forgotten.

The film was shot in 2009 in Macedonia with dialogues in Serbian and Bosnian and won three top Awards at the Irish Film and Television Academy Ceremony earlier this year – Best Film, Best Director and Best Script, and was nominated in a further five categories. Since then it has won awards at a number of high profile festivals throughout the world including prestigious U.S festivals for independent feature films this year. It is Ireland’s official submission for the foreign language category for the 2012 Academy Awards (the shortlist will be announced in January and the jury’s decision on 26 February 2012).

What they’ve said about the film

The film deals with this harsh and brutal world realistically and still keeps its artistic integrity completely. Not only does it document the horror that these people went through, but it actually explains the cycle of hate without being at all preachy. Everything you need to know about the cycle of torture and hate is in the in the very first frame and the last frame. The ending manages to be both poignant and tragic at the same time and will likely stay with you long after you leave the theatre. (…) It is an artistic triumph that works both as a historical document and brilliant piece of film making.
Kelly Stewart, Toronto Film Scene

Based on true-life testimonies and a novel by Slavenka Drakulić, the film, whose title refers to the out-of-body numbness described by victims, is about Samira’s instinct for survival and the choices she makes to ensure it. How can we even think to judge her, let alone bear to watch some of the scenes? It only works because Ms Petrović is remarkable in the role of Samira, beautiful like a young Nastassja Kinski, but with fire in her eyes. And because in her unblinking recounting of the story, director Wilson displays admirable restraint in the face of horror.
Jason Solomons, The Observer

What they’ve said about the book

”Slavenka Drakulić is a curageous and passionate writer from that vanished country, Yugoslavia – a voice to be trusted in an echo chamber of lies. With this book she takes us down into the very heart of the Balkan darkness and the slowly back up to the light. It is fiction with the terrible authority of truth.”
Michael Ignatieff, author of Isaiah Berlin: A Life

”Slavenka Drakulić has courageously provided some of the most searing commentary on the war that swept her homeland and the whole Balkan region. But to understand its true nature and the mindset of those who pursued the war, one has to know what they did to the women of Bosnia. Beyond painful, beyond brutal, it was almost impossible to comprehend. Once again, Slavenka Drakulić forces us to understand.”
Christiane Amanpour, anchor of ABC News’ This Week and former Chief International Correspondent, CNN

”If you would understand a central contemporary event in its full, human dimensions, read this spare and very moving novel.”
Eva Hoffmann, author of Lost in Translation and Exit into History