DEATH IN SARAJEVO

4 stars

An excellent Bosnian drama, this Altman-esque directorial effort from director Danis Tanović (who previously won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2001 for No Man’s Land) follows a dozen characters at a Sarajevo hotel where preparations are underway for a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. As we know, this killing precipitated events leading to the First World War, but the movie is mainly concerned about current events at the hotel including the efforts of an ambitious manager trying to impress her boss, the hotel owner, while also placating her mother who works in the laundry and is about to lead workers into a strike.

Fascinating commentary on the historical events takes place on the roof of the hotel, where a fiery reporter is interviewing experts on the significance of the anniversary, including a present day Serbian nationalist also named Gavrilo Princip who inflames her passions in a number of ways.

Quite an enjoyable and well-crafted film which I hope will be seen by a broad audience.

[This director also made Triage, a little seen English language film whose 2008 premiere at TIFF I got to see. It provided me with my favorite TIFF story in which I got to ask actor Colin Farrell a question about his character’s motivations at the Q&A and he responded with a story about his experience in rehab!]

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