Guns for hire

Two films that deal with war and death leave a mark

Guns for hire
Academy Award wi­nning director Da­nis Tanovic’s Bosnian film Death in Sarajevo once again portrays the life of ordinary people in ethnically divided Bosnia-Herzegovina.

A VVIP guest arrives at Hotel Europa in Sarajevo to be received by the manager and checks into the presidential suite of the hotel. He starts preparing for his speech, an appeal for peace and understanding, to be delivered at the centenary of assassination that initiated World War 1. Is Gavrilo Princip a criminal or a national hero?

The hotel is expecting a large number of important guests. The cabaret coordinator is putting up a cultural event and the student choir is ready with their piece. But the hotel staff is about to go on strike and the manager is trying all means to avoid a showdown.

The television crew is interviewing a series of personalities on the importance of the day and the monuments of the event. Whether it is assassination or an act of patriotism is being disputed according to the ethnic lines of the person speaking. The television host, a Bosnian and the guest, a Slav, are arguing forcefully about the recent war, the atrocities by the two sides and the division of Yugoslavia. The host is secretly recording the ravings of the guest and on finding the truth, he draws a gun on her. In the meantime, the security detailed for the VVIP guns him down.

The entire film has been shot in one location – the hotel. The filmmaker who was also in politics, said in the presser that the film is “made for the people of my country. We need to forget the past. We need to live in the present and look at the future. Let us leave history to the historians. Our future is terrible and the present is unbearable.”

The satirical parable about political dreams and nightmares is punctuated by dark humour, a feeling of hurt, pain and sorrow and the desire of a new nation trying to pull itself out of its past.

Rafi Pitts’ I Am Nero portrays a Mexican boy illegally crossing the borders into the United States, and to escape deportation opts for military service, which will reward him with citizenship on return. the film also offers a glimpse of the war going on in Iraq where these ‘Green Card Soldiers’ are posted.

The filmmaker said that his obsession was with borders, whether the US-Mexican border or in the war-torn middle east. “People do cross for survival, in the hope of a better life’ he said. Crossing the borders in both the cases will be met with dire consequences. The Green Card Soldiers faced double jeopardy, either death at the war front or deportation on return. He wondered why no American filmmaker has chosen to make a film on these immigrant soldiers.

Jhonny Ortis, playing Nero said, “My character is being hunted down by the border patrol, then he becomes border patrol.”

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