Dir/scr: Ahmed Imamovic. Bosnia-Herzegovina.2005. 100mins.
Coming after his successful short, 10 Minutes, Ahmed Imamovic's debut feature Go West shows definite promise, as he attempts to present a solidfolksy melange of sex, politics and violence in the best traditions of Balkancinema.
Focussing on the gaycommunity, atrocities against who have largely been overlooked in manyexaminations of the 1990s south-east European conflict, the narrative followstwo men stranded in Sarajevo at the height of the town's siege.
The director's ostentatiouschoice of characters sometimes feel as if it overplays his hand, and hasprovoked something of a scandal at home, where conservative social mores arestill uneasy about the presence of the gay community.
While every sect andcommunity involved in the Balkans conflict hated each other - be they Christianor Muslim, Serb, Croat or Bosnian - all were united in their loathing towardsthe homosexual community.
The film opens as Kenan (Drmac) a highly-strung, sensitivemusician and his muscular partner, Milan (Filipovic),a Serbian karate devotee, realise there is no future for them in embattledSarajevo.
Instead they dream ofreaching the Netherlands where, they believe, there will be no obstacles,political or moral, to their living together.
Their first step, however,is to obtain the necessary papers that will allow them to leave the country -and for that, they need someone who knows the ropes.
To find a fixer and bidetheir time, the pair leave the city - Kenan isdisguised as woman - and head for Milan's village, which they find half burnedand deserted of Muslims, who have either been chased away or butchered by theirpreviously friendly Serb neighbours.
But Milan's father (Rade Serbedzjia), back from Americaand holding fort in his inn, gladly takes them in. Duped by Kenan'sappearance, he insists on arranging the couple's marriage, thus inserting theobligatory wedding scene that no self-respecting Balkan picture can afford tomiss.
While Milan puts on auniform and temporarily heads for the front, Kenanstays back in wig and dress, to wait for him in the village. Soon however hissecret is discovered by the sex-starved village whore (MirjanaKaranovic), who blackmails him into servicing herregularly.
It can only end in tragedy,which it does when Milan comes home and discovers - to his outrage - what hashappened in his absence.
It is all tied together by alargely unnecessary French TV show, moderated by a compassionate Jeanne Moreau,who happens to be one of the film's co-producers.
Imamovic, to his credit, keeps his story going at a prettybrisk pace. His portrait of war-torn Bosnia and the madness which takes hold ofits inhabitants may not be as stunningly horrific nor as richly complex as thatof other films dealing with similar situations - like Pretty Village, Pretty Flame or ThePowder Keg - but still offers eloquence on a much more populist, immediatelevel.
Go West'sstrength lies not so much in the performances of the two lovers, who seems to beaffectionate towards - rather passionate for - each other, but in the reliablecameos provided by veterans Serbedzjia and Karanovic.
Technical credits aresatisfactory throughout.