In the Bosnian film "Grbavica," the director spotlights a hushed-up topic of mass rapes in Bosnia during the siege of Sarajevo with a tear-jerking story of a Muslim woman who tries to hide the traumatizing experience to protect her daughter, Reuters reported Wednesday, February 15.
"We wanted to give a voice to these people and reflect on something that actually exists in Bosnia," said director Jasmila Zbanic, a native of Sarajevo, which has turned into a cinematic hotbed since Danis Tanovic's Academy Award in 2002.
"Rape was a war strategy to humiliate these women," added Zbanic, 30, at a news conference in Berlin. "They were kept in concentration camps until abortions were no longer possible. There are very many such children. No one has kept track of exactly how many. Many are orphans or were given away for adoption. The official number of women raped is 20,000 but the real number is probably much higher, maybe 50,000."
Zbanic spent months listening to women who were raped as well as their therapists. "War heroes and families of soldiers killed are supported by the state in Bosnia," Zbanic said. "Raped women are not. I would hope this film might change the situation. People who have seen it were crying. I hope they will feel better after seeing it."
"We wanted to give a voice to these people and reflect on something that actually exists in Bosnia," said Zbanic. (Reuters).
A Bosnia Muslim woman named Esma, played by Serbian actress Mirjana Karanovic, is struggling to make ends meet as a waitress and always told her daughter her father was killed in the war.
Her daughter wants to go on a costly class trip and can get a discount if she has proof of what her mother has told her -- but that is something Esma is reluctant to provide. Tensions between the two grow in their small flat in the small suburb of Grbavica amid the social and economic turmoil surrounding them.
"I met many children whose mothers were raped or who don't have mothers because they were abandoned by their mothers," said Luna Mijovic, who plays Esma's daughter. "I felt their pain. They feel no one cares about them. They really need love."
"Road to Guantanamo"
Another frontrunner is "The Road to Guantanamo" by British director and activist Michael Winterbottom, the 2003 winner of the Berlinale's Golden Bear award for best film.
The picture, which was handpicked by festival director Dieter Kosslick as a protest against the US prison camp, tells the true story of three British Muslims held at the prison for two years before being released without charge, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"We want to show the world what is happening there," Shafiq Rasul, one of the former inmates and who also acted in the movie, told a packed news conference after the film. "We want the place to be closed down."
A new UN report, obtained by Reuters on Monday, February 13, said the United States committed acts amounting to torture at Guantanamo detention camp.
The report, to be released later this week, also accuses the US of distorting international law by denying detainees the right to due process, such as not allowing them to choose their defense lawyers and appointing hearing officers with a "minimum level of legal knowledge."
The administration of US President George W. Bush has repeatedly come under fire over reports of abuse at Guantanamo, where it holds more than 500 detainees from about 40 countries, most of them captured in Afghanistan. Former US president Bill Clinton and a chorus of Democrat and Republican Senators had pressed for the closure of the x-ray camp.