Both sides of the war

B. Đorđević,
Večernje novosti,

Is 15 years enough of a temporal distance to begin an impartial account of the tragic events in Vukovar? The authors of the first Serbian-Croatian documentary about the horrors of the war sincerely believe it is. Director Janko Baljak comes from Serbia and screenplay writer Drago Hedl is from Croatia. We are present at TV B92’s editing studio. Baljak and Held are watching their film Vukovar – Final Cut, the final version, fine tuning of sound, 99% of the work is done.

A year of filming and many hours spent with collocutors, on archives and research compressed into 103 minutes. A mountain of work. Janko did a great thing as a director, Hedl says. Another big thing is that there is no commentary in the film, no narrating voice.

The story unfolds as protagonists of the Vukovar drama from both parties that were at war speak. They are the commentators. It is very difficult to make a movie of this kind that leaves out a commentator’s voice to explain events. What also has to be brought to the forefront is that it is the first time that a film on Vukovar deals with facts and information provide by both sides in the conflict.

The authors of the documentary that was entirely produced by B92, but engaged a mixed crew of journalists and researchers, is not naďve to think that the time when projects such as these are disputed in public has passed. Both in Zagreb and in Belgrade. Hedl feels that some people in Croatia will not like having Serb war-time volunteers laying out their views and impressions in the film.

A war has to involve two sides in conflict and the account would not be complete if one of them was not allowed to speak out, Held points out. We expect that extremists on both sides will not like the film, Baljak adds.

The film also contains exclusive material. Footage from military archives, TV archives, amateur recording will be displayed to the public for the first time. From the Croatian side – private records, from Serbia – footage that was owned by Zastava Film under direct authority of the Army.

Who are the collocutors in Vukovar – Final Cut? From Croatia, some of the more important participants (listed by the authors): Branko Bojkovic, a young hawk, the last commander of Vukovar’s defence, doctor Vesna Bosanac, hospital director, Martin Špegelj, Croatian Defence Minister, intelligence officer Ferdinand Jukic, half a score of Vukovar defenders, mothers and wives of the Ovcara victims, who were present at the trial in Belgrade, Marin Vidic Bili, war-time Mayor of Vukovar, people who defended the telecommunications infrastructure... From Serbia, the speakers are General Aleksandar Vasiljevic, Yugoslav Army volunteers, a Serbian Chetnik Duke in Borovo Selo, Brana Crncevic, journalists and Hague witnesses Jovan Dulovic, Dejan Anastasijevic...

Common people, citizens of Vukovar, also appear in the documentary, such as a young girl by the name of Željka Curic, who left the town at the age of six in a tiny blue coat, and who is also the poster figure for the movie.

I think films cannot alter the public opinion. They can encourage some people to think, to ask questions about whether something was different from what they though it to be. My basic idea is: I had the most sincere motives in making the film, one that will not incite the passions that have calmed down somewhat. I want it to have a peaceful mission. Certain words and images from back then seem unbelievable today. We ask ourselves if all this is possible! People who were three years of age back then will look at this movie as an eclipse of the mind, and the film is addressed to these young people more than to us, the contemporaries of the tragedy in Vukovar, Baljak says.

Two Premieres

The world premiere of the Serbian-Croatian documentary on Vukovar is set to play on February 24th 2006 in Zagreb, at the Tuškanc cinema hall at 23.00. Two days later, on February 26th, the film will also feature at Belgrade FEST, at the Cultural Centre Hall (DKC – 17.30)


Final Cut contending for the Heart of Sarajevo
On Monday, August 21, the 12th Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF) Documentary selection will screen a B92 production documentary directed by Janko Baljak: “Vukovar – Final Cut”. SFF Documentary selection will present the films that are mostly dealing with the subject of the quest for the truth. More...


Trailer - video clip [RealPlayer]

Serbian paramilitary forces - video clip [RealPlayer]

Đuro Hodak - video clip [RealPlayer]

Krmača - video clip [RealPlayer]