At the Belgrade army hospital, casualties of Bosnian civil war are treated. In the hospital they remember their youth and the war. Two young boys, Halil, a Muslim, and Milan, a Serb, have grown up together near a deserted tunnel linking the Yugoslav cities of Belgrade and Zagreb. They never dare go inside, as they believe an ogre resides there. Twelve years later, during the Bosnian civil war, Milan, who is trapped in the tunnel with his troop, and Halil, find themselves on opposing sides, fatefully heading toward confrontation.
The plot, inspired by real life events that took place in the opening stages of the Bosnian War, tells a story about small group of Serb soldiers trapped in a tunnel by a Bosniak force. The film’s screenplay is based on an article written by Vanja Bulić for Duga magazine about the actual event. Through flashbacks that describe the pre-war lives of each trapped soldier, the film describes life in pre-war Yugoslavia and tries to give a view as to why former neighbours and friends turned on each other.
Following the success of the movie, Bulić wrote a novel named Tunel that’s essentially an expanded version of his magazine article.
Though cloaked in explosive black humor, the serious anti-war message of this bitterly satirical and politically charged Yugoslav film cuts like shrapnel. Set in Bosnia during 1980 and 1992 (like a pendulum, the time frame swings back and forth), and allegedly based upon a true story, the plot focuses upon the longtime friendship of Muslim Halil, and Serbian Milan. While growing up during the ’80s, the two often hung out near an abandoned tunnel. Though curious, the boys were too frightened by the mythical boy-eating ogres said to venture within. The story moves to 1992 and begins as the war between the Serbs and the Muslim ignites in horrible violence and the friends find themselves forced into becoming enemies. Meanwhile, a beautiful American journalist is captured by the Serbs. The film opens with a shot of European and American dignitaries smiling broadly as they inaugurate the new Brotherhood and Unity tunnel that links Zagreb and Belgrade. Later in the film, it will become the scene of horror when Serbian soldiers are trapped by Muslims within. With nothing to do but wait for death, the trapped soldiers amuse themselves by staging allegorical circus acts.
Won European Jury Award at the Festival d’Angers (1997)
Won Telcipro Award at the Festival d’Angers (1997)
Won Distinguished Award of Merit at the Lauderdale International Film Festival (1996)
Won Bronze Horse at the Stockholm International Film Festival (1996)
Won International Jury Award at the São Paulo International Film Festival (1996)
Won Audience Award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival (1996)
Nominated for Golden Alexander at the Thessaloniki Film Festival (1996)
Subtitles:English, Spanish, German