Both sides of the war
Večernje novosti, www.novosti.co.yu
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
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
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)