Vukovar – The Final Cut
A documentary film produced by B92. Duration: 103 min.
film represents an effort to create a truthful story about everything
that happened in Vukovar (Croatia) during the spring, summer and
fall of 1991, as well as what happened before this time, shortly
after the tragic event of 1991, and what the historical, societal
and emotional consequences are, after years of pain, suffering and
We believe that the historical distance of fifteen years is large
enough to allow us to make an important, investigative documentary
tied to the most painful point of this region.
It is also very important to mention that this is the first Serbian-Croatian
co-production about this painful topic, whose wounds have yet to
heal, even after fifteen years’ time.
Reporters and investigators from both sides of the Danube River,
located in the middle of Europe, and in whose waters’ corpses had
floated for nearly a decade, tried to solve the riddle of the true
reasons that le up to the great Balkan tragedy.
This is not a film made by outside observers or nonchalant journalists.
Nor was it made by war dog reporters who are in the Balkans today,
tomorrow in the Near East and in Baghdad the day after; some of
us were in the middle of the apocalypse of Vukovar while the city
was being torn apart. Some were running from Milosevic’ regime's
attempts to make them soldiers of the Yugoslav National Army and
mobilizing them to participate in the foolish operations of destroying
Vukovar. Others who were independent and crafty were able to, as
people and reporters, spend time on both the Serbian and Croatian
sides of the front.
We are now, once again, on the same mission, to, with the help
of the survivors and available archives, try and put together the
pieces of this impossible mosaic. We have created an insider’s story
about what actually happened in Vukovar. This is the first objective
and propaganda-less film, which is neither a Serbian documentary
nor a Croatian one. With no intentions of serving any political
causes, this film is more interested in serving the purpose of truth.
We are all interest in the story of Vukovar, because it is a part
of all of our lives.
We have tried to comprehend why Vukovar, a rich Slavonian town
famous for being a "miniature Yugoslavia," Tito's exemplary
town of unity, was the one location to suffer total apocalypse,
one comparable to the sacrifice and siege of Stalingrad, and by
the extent of destruction, and scenes shown around the world, reminiscent
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Why was a city which had no strategic interest in military and
police force formations in the conflict between the Yugoslav National
Army and the Croatian military, so systematically destroyed while
the Serbian (Milosevic) and Croatian (Tudjman) leaders walked around
Tito’s estate all the while, discussing plans for a new division
The film about Vukovar will be thematically separated into three,
• immediately before the war, spring and summer of 1999;
• the siege and defence of Vukovar
• (a film about the film):
• the fall of Vukovar 18.11.1991,
• the Ovcara massacre (more than 200 murdered civilians) and the
court process for these war crimes which unfolded in front of the
Belgrade Special War Crimes Court.
The investigation included talks with people who made up the destiny
of the people at this time, on both sides of the front, and discussions
with many people, mostly civilians, who witnessed war-time activity
in Vukovar, and who were not in the forefront at the time, but whose
eyewitness accounts are very interesting in describing individual
situations and events.
The furthest investigations included checking through archives
of the most important Croatian media outlets during this period
of time: the Vjesnik newspaper documentation (the best in Croatia),
HTV’s archive, an archive of local television stations that worked
at this time (TV Dunav, TV Baranja, Slavonska television, Vinkovacka
television, TV Backa Palanka), and several private archives, amateur
video footage taken from Vukovar attics to be used in our film.
Similar investigative work was done in Serbia, where there is
still much material and archives of a state that is under an embargo
because of Hague indictees, who are deeply involved in the story
of this film.
Archival footage used in this film was taken from a number of
sources: Zastava film, Film News, Radio Television Croatia, Radio
Television Serbia, AP, ITN, Reuters and private footage.
The list of interviewees is also a very long one and includes
names such as Marin Vidic Bili, Tomislav Mercep, Dr. Vesna Bosanac,
Ferdinad Jukic (Mercep's activities in Vukovar), Zeljka Juric (the
little girl in the blue coat from the BBC footage of Vukovar a day
after its fall), Branko Borkovic, Croatian volunteer soldier, Martin
Spegelj, Ivan Vekic (interior minister in the Government of National
Unity), Aleksandar Vasiljevic (a retired Serbian general), Zoran
Stankovic (pathologist and current Serbia-Montenegro Defence Minister),
Jovan Dulovic and Dejan Anastasijevic and other Vreme magazine journalists,
Serbian volunteers and drafted soldiers from the Vukovar battlefield,
families of the Ovcara victims and many others.
This is not a simple television report on Vukovar today and fifteen
years ago. This is a film where perpetrators of the crimes brought
back to the place where the tragedy occurred, sometimes in the same
The camera is an accessory in uncovering this crime, often curious,
inquisitive, rude, restless, always in the service of reconstructing
the crime, performing its duties as dirtily as the Vukovar war was
Archival material serves as a starting point, an illustration of
the story, but it is often a crude means consciously manipulated
by the director. It looks for protagonists and witnesses from the
archival footage or uncovers the role of the media in the presentation
of someone's personal tragedy.
The editorial cut is a fascinating and unflinching means for achieving
maximum emotional effect. The style is a direct and merciless cut,
The Final Cut, the title of our film.