A brilliant take on the tragedy that beset his country, Danis Tanovic's directorial debut No Man's Land is a bleak comedy set during the war in Bosnia. The story begins as a group of Bosnian soldiers emerge from a fog to realise that they have strayed into a thin strip of land unclaimed by either side in the conflict. A bloody sequence of events ensues, which results in a disputed trench being occupied by weathered Bosnian veteran Branko Djuric and his opposite number, … mehrRene Bitorajac's Serbian greenhorn. There's a standoff between them, complicated by Djuric's injured colleague lying atop a "bouncing mine". He's a human booby trap--move him and the everything within 50 yards will be blown sky-high. As the blue-hatted, ineffectual UN are called in, and with the world's media, led by the late Katrin Cartlidge as a rather snotty BBC reporter, swiftly arriving on the scene, this single trench becomes an almost Beckettian metaphor for the war.
Tanovic is not especially concerned with taking sides in the Bosnian-Serb conflict. Whatever its causes, both sides are seen to be as bad, or more accurately as desperate, as each other. That it's hard, for outsiders in particular, to tell who's who much of the time only heightens the irony. There's anger at the media intrusiveness ("Does our misery pay well?" screams Djuric at the reporters), but what's really conveyed is a sense of the absurdity, futility and intractability of war, as summarised in the final image. From the grotesque mess of conflict, Tanovic has fashioned a perfectly judged and beautifully executed movie. weniger