No Man's Land (2001)
No Man's Land (Ničija zemlja) is a 2001 Bosnian War film directed and written by Danis Tanović in his debut. Tanović himself was a member of a film crew that followed the Bosnian military on dangerous missions during the war.
A squad of Bosniak soldiers are trying to return to their lines when they end up getting stuck in a no man's land and most of them, save for Čiki (Branko Đurić) get killed by the Bosnian Serb forces. The Serbs decide to send two of their men; an older soldier, and the younger recruit Nino (Rene Bitorajac) to scout the no man's land. They booby trap a Bosniak corpse (Cera, played by Filip Šovagović), by planting a PROM-1 bouncing mine underneath him. Soon Čiki ambushes the two soldiers, killing the older soldier and wounding Nino.
The two men begin insulting each other as they wait for help; things get complicated when it turns out that Cera is merely unconscious; because of the mine, he cannot move or it'll explode and kill all of them.
Eventually, both sides decide to temporarily ceasefire and get help from UN peacekeepers. But despite French peacekeeper Sergeant Marchand (Georges Siatidis)'s best efforts rescue the soldiers, his commanders are preventing him from acting further, and soon tensions begin to rise in the no man's land...
Why it Rocks
- Helped establish Danis Tanović's career.
- Realistic performances from the actors.
- Manages to be both humorous, grim, and tragic at the same time without tone clashes.
- The movie doesn't demonize either sides; rather, it humanizes all of them while at the same time portraying the absurdity of the war itself.
- Minimalist usage of music that actually works in the film's favor.
- Authentic and historically accurate costumes.
- The movie's criticism of the UN and the way its peacekeeping mission in Bosnia was handled can come across as being too heavy-handed and even over-the-top.
The movie is a critical success, with a Fresh 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars.
The movie also won the Best Foreign Language Film at both the 2001 Academy and Golden Globe Awards, not to mention the Best Screenplay Award at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and César Award for Best First Feature Film.