As If I Am Not There on DVD – The DVDfever Review

As If I Am Not There

As If I Am Not There presents us with Samira (Natasha Petrovic), a part-time teacher from Sarajevo who decides to make the break from home to set out and spend a couple of months in Bosnia taking the place of another who has gone off sick, although the kids tell her that their teacher is not coming back. This is the time of the Balkan Wars, which took place in the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995.

No sooner has she begun to just about settle in, that some soldiers move into the village and one tells her to pack up her things. The fact she’s a temporary teacher, just there for a couple of months, has no bearing on proceedings.

They’re told they have orders to take them all out of the village, and that it’s for their own good. The men are told to move out first. As the camera stays focused on the women, gunfire is heard. A bus ride later and they are locked in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere, with no light, nor knowledge about what will happen next. The next morning, the women are escorted out into the field and told to urinate.

As the ordeal continues, early in the film, she sees women and children taken out into nearby abandoned buildings – presumably raped – and then one day, she’s called out herself, and is taken to the building where three disgusting, drunken men tell her to undress. What follows is too gross for words. And the way she feels? Therein lies the title: As If I Am Not There. In fact, it’s probably the most grim movie that you’ll see all year. In so many ways.

The film follows Samira’s journey, with Natasha Petrovic putting on a standout performance as Samira, with good support from the rest of the cast and it was based on Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulic’s real-life experiences overseeing the proceedings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague. I was also pleased to see Stellan Skarsgård in the cast, although he only turns up for a few minutes as a doctor and that’s that.

Overall, this is certainly an important film to watch, but I have to say that it does need tightening up at times and can drag when the subject matter doesn’t deserve that.

Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in anamorphic widescreen, the picture is a little soft. It’s very Well-filmed, though, with great use of cinematography. Meanwhile, the sound is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and provides suitably tense atmosphere to the storyline.

The only extra on the disc is a trailer (1:20) which, thankfully, doesn’t give away too much – although it can’t, given the strength of the content in the film. However, why is that the only extra on here? Aren’t there any interviews with the cast and director, for example?

The menu features the box artwork set against the movie’s theme. There are subtitles in English only, which cannot be switched off for anyone who wants to watch it in its native Bosnian language alone. However, the total number of chapters is a decent number of 24.

As If I Am Not There is released on DVD on September 26th from Element Pictures.

How Natasha Petrovic normally looks.


Detailed specs:

Running time: 106 minutes
Year: 2011
Released: September 2011
Chapters: 24
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: Bosnian
Subtitles: English (permanent)
Widescreen: 2.35:1
Disc Format: DVD9

Director: Juanita Wilson
Producers: James Flynn, Nathalie Lichtenthaeler and Karen Richards
Screenplay: Juanita Wilson

Samira: Natasha Petrovic
Alisa: Irina Apelgren
Halida: Zvezdana Angelovska
Mirsada: Nikolina Kujaca
Amina: Slagana Vujosevic
Bojan: Nenad Mitevski
The Captain: Fedja Stukan
Commander: Miraj Grbic
Doctor: Stellan Skarsgård