Review: ‘The Enclave’

"The Enclave" examines the aftermath of genocide in Bosnia as a translator at a tribunal probing the fall of Srebrenica comes face to face with the man who slaughtered his family. Auds may find events surrounding the massacre difficult to follow, particularly since there are no user-friendly characters to bring emotional life to the political expose.

Alma Popeyus and Hein Schutz’s “The Enclave” examines the aftermath of genocide in Bosnia as a translator at a tribunal probing the fall of Srebrenica comes face to face with the man who slaughtered his family. Dutch helmer Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen strives for raw immediacy in his dramatization of banner headlines that have shaken recent Dutch governments. However, American auds may find events surrounding the massacre and the Dutch role difficult to follow, particularly since there are no user-friendly characters to bring emotional life to the political expose. Nonetheless, pic remains natural for human rights and educational venues.

From July 12 to 16, 1995, Serb forces slew approximately 8,000 Muslim men, women and children who had taken refuge in a U.N.-established, Dutch-enforced safety zone in the Bosnian spa town of Srebrenica. The culpability of the Serbs has been the subject of international tribunals.

In addition, how the Dutchbat, Dutch peacekeeping forces entrusted with the safety of the Muslims gathered at Srebrenica, allowed the massacre to occur, and to what extent the matter was a subsequently covered up have been investigated by several committees. “The Enclave” confounds these two levels of guilt in the drama of one man’s search for justice.

Ibro (Ramsey Nasr) has made a comfortable life for himself in Holland. His translating work is fulfilling, and his Dutch wife (Renee Soutendijk) is expecting their first child at any minute. When routine research for an upcoming case reveals that the suspect may be responsible for the deaths of his father and brother, Ibro’s long-repressed memories of his parents and siblings, all killed at Srebrenica, come flooding back.

When the accused, Darko Bokan (Frank Lammers), may be acquitted for lack of evidence, Ibro, armed with explosives, takes Darko hostage and goes on television via the Internet, forcing the ex-Serbian soldier to admit his guilt to the world.

But a different story emerges, via lengthy flashbacks to a school where Ibro’s father and kid brother were tortured and slain, revealing a reluctant soldier bullied and forced into killing. His repeated refrain — why didn’t the Dutch stop the slaying that they had to have known was going on? — shifts the focus back to government officials who apparently want to silence Ibro and Darko before they implicate powerful higher-ups.

Stylistically fudgy pic forges an uneasy alliance between a gritty docu-like look and a Hollywood image of justice as a dramatic revelation of truth, the two approaches tending to cancel each other out in histrionic shrillness that passes for suspense.

Tech credits are adequate.

The Enclave

Netherlands-Croatia

Production

A Vara/All Yours production. Produced by Rolf Koot. Directed by Willem van de Sande Bakhuyzen. Screenplay, Alma Popeyus, Hein Schutz.

Crew

Camera (color, 16mm-to-DigiBeta), Melle Van Essen; editor, Wouter Jansen; music, Fons Merkies; production designer, Harry Ammerlaan; costume designer, Sabine Snijders; sound, Kees de Groot, Peter Flamman. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Cinema of Europe), Sept. 7, 2003. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Ramsey Nasr, Frank Lammers, Johann Leysen, Renee Soutendijk, Nienke Romer. (Dutch, Serbo-Croatian, English dialogue.)
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