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USA, 1997 (MIFF 1997, Documentaries)

Director: Miriam Quinte, Pepe Danquart

Mostar, 1994. The Bosnian War is over; a Muslim woman picks over her beloved books and other heirlooms. Like most other inhabitants of the Muslim quarter of the city, she has lost almost everything in the bombing. Grandmothers tend to orphans while a young man staggers around in a daze. Meanwhile, on the Croatian side of the River Neretva, people window shop and sit outside cafes as if the bombing was a mad general's fantasy. Unable to imaginatively comprehend the devastation visit­ed upon their neighbours, some express scorn and hatred towards the Muslim refugees.

Miriam Quinte and Pepe Danquart open their documentary with a photograph of Mostar before the war, its lovely old bridge intact. British soldiers supervise its reconstruction, and the demolition of ruined buildings. Mostar's Ger­man administrator does his best to restore the city's battered heart. But the trauma and car­nage inflicted on the population are still too raw for age-old hatreds to subside.

With its simple, direct approach and outstand­ing photography, Off Season presents a sympa­thetic, non-partisan view of a terrible war.

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