Stille Sehnsucht (Warchild) (2006)  




Director:     Christian Wagner.

Starring:     Labina Mitevska (Senada),  Senad Basic (Samir),  Katrin Sa (Frau Jandrasko),  Crescentia Dner (Beate Heinle),  Otto Kukla (Lars Heinle),  Joelle Ludwig (Aida / Kristina),  Miranda Leonhardt (Marija),  Heinrich Schmieder (Tony),  Zdenko Jelcic (Dzigera),  Milena Zupancic (Munira).

a mother searches for her daughter taken from her when the family was forced into an internment camp


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 


Sarajevo. A young woman looks out over the landscape. A man and woman are looking over a house that needs some work done on it. The husband yells to his wife to tell the young woman that they will only agree if she will take half-price for the place. The young woman says she can't make that decision. It's up to her boss. The young woman takes the couple to the airport and drops them off.

An employee of Rent a Car calls out for Senada. He runs over with something in a plastic bag and tells her that her clients left this bag in the car. He then asks Senada if she would like to go out for a drink with him, but she says no to everything he suggests. She gets on her motorcycle and drives off.

She parks and goes into a building. There is a gym there with a volleyball net already in place. Senada is a member of the girl's volleyball team. After the game she goes dancing and dances by herself. She is there with her girlfriend, who takes some magazines from the plastic bag belonging to Senada's clients. Senada takes it from her and looks at some of the photos of the ex-Yugoslavia. She thinks she recognizes a picture of some children from Brcko and says one of the kids in the photo is Minka's little son. She says the photo is a clue. The boy is on the missing list.

An important volleyball game is about to be played, but Senada is nowhere in sight. Another young woman will substitute for Senada.

Senada is on her way to The American Protectorate of Brcko. She parks her motorcycle, takes the client's plastic bag and walks over to speak to a street vendor named Samir, her husband. She tells him about the photo she saw and says that she thinks the kid is Minka's son. She also says that "our Aida" was also on the bus. The red caps were handed out first in 1994, so the photo can't be older than 1994. She says she's sure that her daughter is sending her a message that she needs her mother. At night husband and wife go home.

It's been seven years since they received their UN donation to renovate their house. She takes a photo of her daughter and cuts out the daughter's head and saves it.

The next day Senada talks to a Red Cross worker, who says she knows a man who drove a bus like the one in the photo of the boy with the red cap. His name is Redzic.

Senada gets back on her motorcycle. She travels to a place where there are lots of stored buses. She talks to the brother of Redzic. He says that Redzic died when his house was struck by artillery shells. And this Laser bus that she is looking for no longer exists. The brother tells Senada that Redzic told him they tried to bring the children to Tuzla. Since the town was overcrowded, "they wanted to take the sick kids abroad" to Germany, Austria or Switzerland. He doesn't remember which.

Senada tells her husband that the sick kids were brought out and Aida had asthma. They go to see a fellow named Dzigera. Senada wants to cross the border and look for Aida. It's going to cost her 4,000. She tells Samir to sell the Passat car. He tells her to sell her motorcycle, but Senada tells him the motorcycle is just borrowed.

Samir sells his Passat and now Senada heads for the border with Dzigera. They go out on a fishing boat. In a scubaq diving outfit, complete with mask and breathing tube, she gets into a fish storage container. On top of her, the crew through the fish into the container.

At night a police boat comes over to check out the fishing boat. The police check out the fish containers and find nothing.

A big van comes along the road and honks for Senada. She awakens still dressed in her scuba diving outfit. She changes into her regular clothes. Dzigera gets out of the van and Senada and several others jump inside the back of the van.

Dzigera drives to a checkpoint and is waved right through. Once passed the checkpoint Dzigera stops the van and has everyone get out. Now Senada realizes that she is in Italy. She's disappointed but Dzigera says all roads lead to Europe.

Six weeks later. Ulm, Germany. Senada gets a cheap place to stay. The young woman there, named Zitaric, takes a liking to her. She gives her some dos and don't about being an illegal alien.

An official tells Senada that they have no child listed under the name Senada gave them. She adds that in 1995 they has an unidentified girl who had asthma. Now the woman asks for a picture of Senada's child. She gives her the head shot of the girl. The girl in question from 1995 does look a lot like the photo of Aida, but the German woman tells Senada that they have no evidence yet. She will have to be patient.

Zitaric and Senada relax. They smoke and drink and talk to the other people around. The German woman calls and gives Senada the bad news that her one lead did not turn out to be Aida.

Obviously, Senada is devastated and she goes out for a walk in the city streets. She finds the German official while the woman is leading a choir practice. Senada says that she is wrong, that the girl is her daughter. She walks out, leaving the German woman dazed.

Senada goes to the offices where the German woman works and takes the computer belonging to the woman. She asks someone to gain entrance into the computer, but the guy says he needs the user's name and the password. A post-em note falls off the computer. The note says: Aida/Kristina Heinle, town of Lonsee. Zitaric comes over to Senada and Senada shows the note to Zitaric.

Senada takes a bus to Lonsee. She finds the address she is interested in. She goes to a coffe shop across the way from the address. She orders a coffee and stares at the building. She sees a girl like Aida over there. Senada calls the telephone number and tries to talk to the girl. Her name is Kristina Heinle and Senada tells her that she is her mother. Kristina tells Senada that she thinks Senada has the wrong telephone number. Kristina hangs up.

Back in Ulm, the German woman stops Senada on the street and asks her if she has gone crazy? Where is the computer? Senada answers: "I not stolen, my child stolen." The official says the girl was legally adopted. Senada fires back: "I don't give to other parents." The official says that the Red Cross searched for a year for the girl's parents, but never found them.

The official goes up to where Senada is staying. She tells her: "But you can't give away your child, and then ask for her back years later." Senada repeats that she did not give away her child. The German official says that she stayed informed about the happenings in the Bosnian War. She even read a book about the rape camps. She tells Senada if she wants to appeal the adoption, she can't just work on her own. She has to follow the rules of the legal system. And these rules do allow certain official decisions to be re-examined.

Senada gets up, gets the computer and gives it to the German woman, who asks Senada to promise her not to ever take the computer again. Senada promises. Furthermore, she must have no contact with the adoptive parents.

One day at the coffee shop, Senada sees the adoptive father pull up in his fancy car. The waitress asks him if he can give Senada a ride back to Ulm, since the man is going there anyway. The man agrees.

The adoptive father is back home with his wife Beate. His name is Lars.

At the place she is staying, one of the workers tells Senada that the woman from the youth welfare office phoned. The next day Senada goes over to see the German woman. She shows Senada the file for Aida and shows her a signed statement from her mother giving permission to take the child to a safe territory. Senada says she didn't sign the document.

Senada now calls Samir and asks him: "Did you give our daughter away?" Over and over again she asks the same question. She says in 10 years he never told her. And now she asks: "Why?" Samir says: "Our Aida is alive." Senada says, yes, their daughter is alive, but she's not living with her biological parents.

Zitaric tells Senada to go to Lonsee and introduce herself to the parents. Surely, the adoptive parents must be interested in the mother of their Kristina. So Senada gets back on the bus going to Ulm.

Senada walks with Lars. She doesn't tell him Kristina is her child Aida. She asks to see his house. She is shown the house, but she learns that both Kristina and his wife are visiting grandmother. Senada asks Lars if she can work here as a house cleaner?

On their way to Ulm, Senada and Lars had talked about driving around seeing Europe. Now he takes her to the basement and shows her the car he has been working on to get it into shape for traveling. Maybe Senada would go with him? But Senada doesn't really hear the question because she is intently looking around.

She goes over and picks up two mittens tied together with a length of material. Maybe this is something Senada had given to her daughter?

It looks like Lars wants to have sex with Senada. He picks her up and puts her on top of the hood of the vehicle he has been working on. He starts to unbutton her blouse. She pushes him off of her. Lars resists, but Senada pushes hard. She picks up her jacket and leaves.

Lars follows her out and asks if she wants to go to a motel? No answer. He says he can give her a few Euros for the trip. When he takes out the money she sees in his wallet a picture of a young Kristina. Senada says her name is not Kristina, but Aida Malkovic. And her birthday is not in November as the adoptive parents believe, but in September. Senada walks away.

Lars writes a letter to Senada.

At the boarding house, Tony asks his girlfriend where is Senada? Zitaric asked him to hire her, but where is she? Zitaric just asks Tony for a small kiss. They kiss.

Senada knocks on the door and the adoptive mother thinks Senada is a door-to-door sales woman so she tells her to go away. Senada tries to explain, but she's not fast enough in the German language. She knocks on the window, shows the adoptive mother a photo of Aida and says she's the mother of Aida.

Lars is at the coffee shops and asks Marlies if she could give Senada his letter?

At home Senada and the adoptive mother talk together. The mother explains that the adoption agents told them that the biological parents had died in the Bosnian War. Senada says: "I was dead. Now alive again." She thanks the adoptive parent for what she did for her daughter, but she and Aida are now going back to Bosnia.

The adoptive mother tells Senada that she cannot do that. Kristina knows nothing about Senada and her husband. Now she is Kristina's mother. Senada asks if she can see Aida, but the adoptive mother tells her she is at school.

Senada goes to the coffee house and is given Lars' letter along with her cup of coffee. In the letter Lars apologizes for hurting Senada.

Senada returns to the boarding house. Samir is there waiting for her. When she sees him, she runs out of the room. He follows her onto the street saying he looked for their daughter for many years. All Senada wants to do is hit Samir and say to him that for her he is nothing.

Lars and his wife are trying to sleep, but it's hard. His wife tells him that he should have seen how Senada interacted with Kristin, how she ran her hands through her daughter's hair. She says their hands are identical.

Lars drives Kristina to school. The adoptive mother finds that Kristina wet the bed.

The adoptive mother goes to see the German social service worker. The service worker denies the woman's accusation that she gave their address to Senada. The adoptive mother tells M.s Jandrasko that there will be consequences for what she did.

Ms. Jandrasko goes to see Senada at the boarding house. She says that Ms. Heinle told her that she will have Senada deported if she gets within 3km of their house. The social workers says that if Senada works through the legal system, she might be able to see her daughter in two years. But if she rejects using the legal system, it may be that she will not see her daughter for six years, when she turns 18.

Senada gets in touch with Lars. She waits by the sign for Lonsee which is 3 km away from where the sign is.  She flags Lars down. She says that she wants to see her daughter here or else she will give Lars' letter to his wife.

Lars takes Senada to the hockey rink where Kristina is playing. And now Mrs. Heinle arrives at the hockey rink. After the practice session, Kirstina looks into the stands toward her father. She can't help but see Senada in the stands too.

Lars goes down to tell Kristina who she is going to meet, but Kristina skates away. Senada goes down to the locker room. Mrs. Heinle sees her and comes out, closing the door behind her. She tells Senada to get out of here or she will call the police on her. Senada gives Lars's letter to his wife.

Senada gets back on the bus for Ulm. When she gets off at her stop, Samir is there and he follows her telling Senada that he did not give up their daughter for adoption. He thought their daughter was dead.

When Mrs. Heinle gets home she starts making her bags.

Samir says it was wartime and they were getting more and more surrounded by the Serbians.

The police go to the boarding house to get Senada. The police bust through a door and find a man in bed with two women (brief nudity). Tony and Zitaric are stunned at the police raid.

Samir says that after the war ended he saw the Laser bus all burnt up. Samir walks away.

Senada goes to the boarding house. Tony throws her stuff down the stairs and tells her to get out of here.  He says that before hhe came to the boarding house, they used to live in peace. Senada goes to pick up her things. Zitaric apologizes to Senada for her husband's behavior and the two women hug each other.

Senada walks away from the boarding house. She looks at the department store display windows downtown. Later she finds her husband. He tells her that together they will go get their daughter and return to Bosnia. He shows her the hand grenade he has on him. Senada says he's crazy. Meanwhile, here comes Dzigera driving up with his big van.

The van travels out to Lars' house. They go inside. Senada sees the mess made the previous night by the fights in the house over Senada and Kristina. She tells Samir that they are going. She says she knows where Aida is. They go over to the hockey rink.

The social worker is at the game with Kristina's adoptive mother. Lars is also at the game, but not with his wife. After the game the social worker gets together with Lars and his wife. The adoptive parents tell her next summer they are going to tell Kristina about her adoption and then visit Senada to introduce Kristina to her mother.

Senada beats her to the punch. As Kristina goes to her adoptive parents, Senada calls out her name. Kristina stops and turns around.  Kristina and her biological mom stare at each other.

Senada is in the van with her husband and Dzigera. They are headed back to Bosnia without Kristina.


Touching movie about the damage done to Bosnian families by the genocidal war against Bosnia by the Serbs.  Senada was taken away from her daughter and put in a concentration camp.   As the fighting came in closer and closer to her husband Samir, he turned over the child so she could be taken to a safe place.  Seven years later Senada is trying to track her daughter down.  Senada soon finds out that getting her daughter back is not going to be easy because her daughter was legally adopted by a German couple.  This sets up a real conflict between the adoptive parents, the biological mother and the department of social services in Ulm, Germany.  The acting was good all around.  Sad film, but very watchable film.   (Perhaps I should single out Labina Mitevska, as the character Senada, who did such a fine job of acting.)

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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