What happened within Yugoslavia during the Tito years was little known in the West because he had such a powerful control over the media so consequently the West was largely unaware of the simmering internal divisions, regional rivalries and religious hatreds that were held in check only because his control was so complete. The West admired the independent way Tito operated and that, unlike in other communist countries, he refused to allow Yugoslavia to become a puppet of the Soviet Union.
After Tito died nobody with the same ability to exert control over Yugoslavia emerged so the relationships between the multitude of different groups in Yugoslavia worsened and this finally lead to war involving Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo which took on an increasingly brutal form involving the massacre of civilians, mass rapes and ethnic cleansing and the intervention of the West proved largely ineffective and often seemed to make matters worse until a ceasefire was finally achieved with the intervention of the Americans.
Esma was one of the numerous civilian victims of the war and after the guns fell silent she struggled to bring up her teenage daughter in Sarajevo and the film slowly reveals the nature of the secret that haunted her which she was so determined to keep from her daughter. Their loving relationship is beautifully told and when Esma's secret emerges it has a traumatic effect on both of them and threatens to destroy what they had. The film is a thoughtful, moving, sensitive and engrossing study of what war does to innocent people who get caught in the crossfire and the legacy it leaves in the minds of those who survive. The acting is superb and the issues the film examines stay long in the memory long after the final scenes are over.