As If I Am Not There is a story of a young woman from Sarajevo whose life is shattered the day a young soldier walks into her apartment and tells her to pack her things.Rounded up with the other women from the village and imprisoned in a warehouse in a remote region of Bosnia, she quickly learns the rules of camp life. The day she is picked out to ‘entertain’ the soldiers, the real nightmare begins.Stripped of everything she ever had and facing the constant threat of death, she struggles against all the hatred she sees around her. In a final act of courage or madness, she decides to make one last stand: to dare to be herself. And this simple act saves her life.It’s when she realises that surviving means more than staying alive that she has to make a decision that will change her life forever.As If I Am Not There is a modern war story that explores love, identity and the connections between us.
DIRECTOR BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:
Irish director, Juanita Wilson has just followed up her Oscar ® nominated first film, The Door (2008) with an equally hard hitting true story from the Bosnian War, As If I Am Not There, based on Croatian journalist Slavenka Drakulic’s book of the same name.
The Door was shot on location in Pripyat and Kiev in the Ukraine and so far has received worldwide critical acclaim both for its cinematic imagery and its moving story. The Academy Award® nomination in March 2010 followed a string of awards throughout the world including Bilbao International Film Festival Golden Medal for Fiction; Irish Film and Television Academy Award for Best Short; Foyle Film Festival ’08 Best Irish Short; Cork Film Festival Clare Lynch Award for Best First Time Director; Warsaw’s Grand OFF International Film Festival’s Award for Best Direction and The Bird’s Eye Festival in London where it won Best Short. The Door was in the official selection at Munich, Edinburgh and Telluride Film Festivals 2009. At the Sarajevo Film Festival in August 2009, Stellan Skarsgard awarded Juanita the prestigious Katrin Cartlidge Foundation Bursary.
Juanita jointly developed and produced two powerful, award winning feature films: H3 (2001) written by surviving Irish hunger striker Laurence McKeown about his experiences and Inside I’m Dancing (2004) about the quest for independent living by two Dublin men with disability. H3 won the Bergamo Film Festival Audience Award in 2002 and Inside I’m Dancing, starring James McEvoy, won the Edinburgh Festival Audience Award in 2004. In 2005 it was in the official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival and won the Irish Film and Television Audience Award for Best Film.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, Juanita studied Fine Art in the National College of Art and Design and, after a year living and studying in Paris, she went back to achieve first place on the postgraduate Diploma in Arts Management in UCD. After a spell working in the independent production sector in Dublin, she went back to college and graduated with the top marks as a professional journalist at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
Not afraid to take on strong subjects and, driven by a desire to discover what it means to be human, her work to date combines her love of image making with her desire to tell powerful stories about the resilience of the human spirit.