Silence of Reason

Year2023 Duration63 min. Projection formatDCP ColourColour LanguageBosnian, English DirectorKumjana Novakova EditorJelena Maksimovic SoundVladimir Zivkovic Production Kumjana Novakova, Medea, Pravo Ljudski FestivalsSarajevo Film Festival 2023, IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2023, Torino Film Festival 2023

Spanish premiere


Forensic video essay built as a performative research into the first international criminal tribunal case at the ICTY to enter convictions for rape as a form of torture and for sexual enslavement as crime against humanity.

Foča is a small town in southeast Bosnia and Herzegovina, next to the river Drina. In the first half of the 90s, during the war in Bosnia, Srpska Republic forces occupied the city and imprisoned its Muslim inhabitants, separating men from women. The women were held in various detention centres (barracks in military facilities, private apartments in the city, even secondary schools and sports centres) which became rape camps, where the Serbian paramilitaries systematically sexually assaulted female prisoners in captivity, as recommended by their high command to maintain their morale for battle. Years later, these atrocities were judged and sentenced by the UN war crimes tribunal, thereby guaranteeing sentences for rape as a form of torture and for sexual slavery as a crime against humanity. This was crucial progress in international justice and human rights.

Silence of Reason gives its particular response to a question that has been debated since cameras accompanied the allied troops in another dreadful war as they entered the Nazi extermination camps: how can you portray the unportayable? Kumjana Novakova uses court testimonies in the first person (using digital anonymity) and archive images. With forensic curtness, the declarations mainly appear in text form on the screen, while we are shown fragments of video recorded in the actual scenarios, with a grainy texture that coats everything and takes us back to that Balkan War shown on television all over the world at the time. By editing the text, sound and image precisely, the filmmaker constructs an essay on the horror, allowing the body of the work to speak for itself, sharing the survivors’ memory. Silence of Reason is, finally, a memory container that brings us face to face with dehumanisation, a film on and against the most terrifying and absurd injustice and violence.

Miguel Zozaya

Promoted by
Gobierno de Navarra
Organized by
With the aid of
Con la financiación del Gobierno de España. Instituto de la Cinematografía y las Artes Audiovisuales Acción Cultural Española Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia Financiado por la Unión Europea. NexGenerationEU

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