Children and women suffer in wartime — that’s the message of the well-meaning but overdone melodrama “The Abandoned,” from Bosnian helmer Adis Bakrac, chief of the new Sarajevo Film Center. Calling attention to the plight of children born of rape during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but with far less nuance and polish than Jasmila Zbanic’s similarly themed “Grbavica,” pic follows 12-year-old Alen (Tony Grga) as he runs away from a Sarajevo orphanage to search for his birth mother. Sometimes clunky and cliched, other times genuinely affecting, this tearjerker for less discerning audiences should find succor at other fests.
Pic’s first half etches daily life at the orphanage run by kindhearted Cica (Mira Furlan) and understanding Mirza (Mirsad Tuka), as well as Alen’s escapades in a gang of thieving youths under the control of crooked local businessman Sento (Dragan Marinkovic). Alen grew up believing he was the abandoned child of a mixed marriage; the truth he ultimately discovers about his parentage proves even crueler. Production package and performances feel better suited to a telepic than to a theatrical feature, with clumsy cutting an irritant.