An Australian tourist on a trip through Bosnia and Herzegovina has an unsettling night at the hotel Vilina Vlas in Višegrad. She tosses and turns throughout the night, feeling ill when she awakes. After her stay, she researches Vilina Vlas and discovers the source of her discomfort- the hotel was used a rape camp for Bosniak women and girls during the Bosnian War. Upon her discovery, the tourist decides to look for answers and responsibility in the surrounding town and its residents.
“For Those Who Can Tell No Tales,” directed by Jasmila Žbanić and written by and starring Kym Vercoe, is a historic exploration of the 1992 ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia through the eye of a present-day tourist.
From 1992-1995, Bosnian Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats were engaged in a multi-ethnic conflict following the independence of Bosnia. In Višegrad and Srebrenica, Bosnian Serbs carried out genocide of thousands of Bosniak women, men and children. 96,000 people in all were killed during the war and ethnic conflict. In 1993, after the Bosnian and Croatian wars, the United Nations created the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, tasked with prosecuting those responsible for the deaths of 96,000 or more people. The tribunal is still active today.
At just over 75 minutes, “For Those Who Can Tell No Tales” is not your typical historical film. The ultra-indie aesthetics and isolated main character don’t feel like a classroom lesson, but the message is silent and clear. Bosnia is still affected by the 1992 genocide.
The gray landscape of the haunting Vilina Vlas, and the cool distance of the villagers insinuate the area’s dark secret. The reality of Višegrad comes to a head when Vercoe is rejected by locals and interrogated, suspected of being a journalist. The silence of the locals has Kym questioning: why is everyone so keen on hiding what happened at Vilina Vlas?
The truth is that a war is still waging in the hearts of Bosnians today. Some were present for the conflict, others fled and returned, but every choice, every action and every person had a role in the conflict. They still do.
“For Those Who Can Tell No Tales” exposes the story of many women raped and murdered at Vilina Vlas. However, it also tells the tales that Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks today cannot tell – the unspoken words that they keep inside and their personal tales of pain, regret and loss.
The simplicity and narrow focus of the film create a narrative that is easy to follow but poignant. For adult audiences interested in the aftermath of ethnic conflicts, “For Those Who Can Tell No Tales” uses an outsider perspective to tell the inside story. This movie is a peculiar, informative and touching grasp at understanding Bosnia and its war torn past.
The film is currently being featured at festivals around the world. For more information, go to http://www.mpmfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Press-Book-For-Those-Who-WEB.pdf.