For Those Who Can Tell No Tales
For Those Who Can Tell No TalesOriginal Title: Za one koji ne mogu da govore
Director: Jasmila Žbanić
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Qatar | Bosnian, English
Subtitles: Arabic and English
When history’s lessons are too painful, how do we balance the contradiction between “never forget' and “life must go on'? In Jasmila Žbanić’s film, a past that’s very much part of her own history shakes to the core a foreign interloper who “discovers' its truth, one locals know all too well, and would perhaps prefer buried.
Traveling solo on “my Balkan tour,' genial geek-girl Kym particularly delights in the historical sites and friendly folk of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s only upon returning home to Australia that this vacation sours, as she realizes the extent of her obliviousness. A charming old bridge she’d crossed was the site of massacres during the still recent civil war. Even more chilling, a hotel she slept in was once a “rape camp' where some 200 women were repeatedly violated, then murdered.
Kym (played by performance artist Kym Vercoe, whose actual experiences inspired the film is unable to put what she now knows behind her. She even undertakes a joyless return trip to somehow reconcile her prior experience with the shadow cast over it. But few locals are interested in discussing the ugliest chapter in their lives. Is it even any of her business? When she asks a guidebook writer how he could have recommended that hotel without mentioning its horrific secret, he suggests people have already suffered enough: They (like him) want to “move the country forward.' For Those WhoCan Tell No Tales cuts back and forth in time, morphing from lighthearted travelogueto tense drama. It asks whether we can, or should, ever ignore brutal collectivememories, even when creating a livable future seemingly requires it.