Sabina K., inspired by a true story, takes place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between January 2004 and January 2005. The “Sabina” of the title is a divorced mother of two small children who has recently reconnected with Saša (they served together in the Bosnian army during the war).
Saša and Sabina fall deeply in love and plan to marry.
But there is a problem. Sabina is Muslim and Saša a Catholic, and their respective families disapprove of the marriage. Their only ally is an older woman, Ankica, whose son – killed in the war – had been their close friend. “Aunt” Ankica thinks of Sabina and Saša as her own children and invites them to her home on the island of Korčula to get married.
Springtime comes and Sabina travels to Korčula where she is reunited with Ankica and where the two women wait for Saša to join them from Zagreb. The days pass… Saša never arrives… and with a heavy and troubled heart, Sabina returns to Sarajevo. She discovers that Saša has taken all his things from her apartment and moved out. There is no note; no explanation. Sabina goes to Saša’s mother for answers, but the deeply embittered woman treats her harshly and calls the police. Mysteriously, inexplicably, the love of Sabina’s life is gone and she doesn’t know where or why.
A few weeks later, Sabina passes out on the job. She goes to the doctor and learns that she is pregnant. Her parents and friends counsel her to have an abortion and put the past behind her, but she refuses. As her pregnancy advances and winter approaches, Sabina loses her job and when her ex-husband tries to shake her down for money by threatening to take the children away permanently, she comes to a breaking point. Love has failed her, and she decides to take her life.
The suicide attempt is unsuccessful and Sabina spends several days in the hospital. While there, she is visited by her landlady, who informs her that since her lease will end in another week, she has decided to rent out Sabina’s apartment to another family. This means that Sabina, scheduled for a C-section in mid-January, will have no place to live when she checks out of the hospital in a few days.
Later that night – it is Christmas Eve – Sabina watches from her window as parishioners enter a church across the street. Weary and forlorn, she remembers the Christmas story, and wonders why a God who took care of an unwed mother and her baby so many centuries ago does not seem to have an interest in her plight today.
Discharged on the third of January 2005 with no help from her family or social services, Sabina wanders the streets of Sarajevo, riding for hours on the heated trams… gravitating toward abandoned buildings and low-cost flophouses at night.
There are no solutions… there is no refuge… and Sabina again makes plans to take her life. Will she succeed this time? On January 6th, Orthodox Christmas Eve, she sells the last of her jewelry and surreptitiously buys three times the amount of sleeping pills used in her previous suicide attempt. She checks into a room at a hostel and begins swallowing the pills, slipping into unconsciousness.
What happens next is subject to opinion… But one thing becomes clear. Sabina will never be the same.