Vukovar: Final Cut shown at ZagrebDox

Jurica Pavicic,

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 Croatian public.

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 them.

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.


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]