Vukovar: Final Cut shown at ZagrebDox
When each November Croatia once again commemorates the Vukovar
victims, one is sometimes under the impression that there is nothing
undiscovered or new that could be written or said about the most
tragic chapter of the Croatian war for independence.
However, that it is not so shows the documentary entitled Vukovar:
Final Cut, produced by Belgrade media house B92 and made through
joint effort by Serbian director Janko Baljak and Croatian journalist
Drago Hedl. Vukovar: Final Cut is not only the most comprehensive
and thorough historical overview of the Vukovar tragedy, it is also
the film which will offer historians and analysts of events in 1991
a whole series of new testimonies and revelations.
Hedl and Baljak built a documentary fresco of the battle on the
Danube after 15 months of dedicated interviewing of the participants,
but also digging through archive footage most of which could be
seen for the first time here. The result is a film which will reveal
lesser known aspects of the Vukovar horror to both the Serbian and
We in Croatia will find at least three segments of the film interesting,
because they were never told before. First of them is the story
about international tension after bloodshed in Borovo Selo, when
Vukovar Serbs started disappearing and Mercep and his group gradually
became masters of the town.
The second aspect are testimonies from people who participated
in the battle on the other side. Baljak found three witnesses –
ranging from a rocker who was mobilized by force to a volunteer
– who told us what did the siege look like on the other side.
The third and probably most horrifying aspect which is new in
Baljak's film are the images shot immediately after the fall of
the town which show reactions of the Serb civilians. Especially
shocking is the archive footage showing local Serbs betraying their
"extreme" neighbours to soldiers and celebrating with
The film by Baljak and Hedl does not have a single line of comment
or narrator's voice. It is made primarily of testimonies by witnesses,
dozens of them, each one providing a new piece in a horrific puzzle.
Hedl and Baljak picked their interviewees and words on both sides
to be dominated by reflection and sorrow, never hatred or revenge.
That characteristic is so dominant that it cannot be accidental.
Baljak and Held obviously intended to make a film which could
serve as a foundation for minimum consensus to be built on both
sides of the Danube. In our opinion, they succeeded in their intention,
which is really the most you can expect from a movie.