Serbia to finance motion picture about Jasenovac death camp

The Serbian government - on President Vucic's initiative - is ready to finance a major film project about the suffering of Serbs, Jews, and Roma in Jasenovac.

Source: Vecernje novosti
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The site of the former Jasenovac death camp on the left bank of the Sava in Croatia (Tanjug, file)
The site of the former Jasenovac death camp on the left bank of the Sava in Croatia (Tanjug, file)

Jasenovac was one of the extermination camps set up and operated by the Ustasha regime of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a Second World War era Nazi-allied entity.

According to Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, reporting on Tuesday, the state plans to set aside up to EUR 20 million to finance a motion picture about NDH's notorious killing ground, and engage "eminent representatives of the film world" - including some well-known Hollywood names.

There are two reasons behind this, the newspaper continued: first, the fact that nobody has so far adequately seriously presented the scale of this tragedy on film, and then because of recent continued attempts to downplay the scale of the suffering of Serbs in the death camp.

The idea to make the film originally came from Tihomir Stanic, who picked Djordje Kadijevic to direct it. The reason, Kadijevic says, is that he is "Croat on his mother's side, Serb on his father's, and Yugoslav in his soul."

"The project was to be financed by the Serb Republic (RS), but Stanic had to drop out because of the threats coming from Croatia. This film is needed now more than ever, and should have been made along time ago," Kadijevic said.

"But this topic is difficult to cover in cinematic terms, so that it is regarded artistically, without falling into the trap of chauvinism. Jasenovac was a tragedy that, when we speak about human evil, cannot be compared to anything else in the world. It was hell on Earth, a point on the planet where evil reached its maximum, and went on for four years," he said.

Asked why no film about Jasenovac had ever been produced in the former Yugoslavia - where millions were spent on impressive epic movies about other WW2 topics - historian Milan Koljanin said:

"Because that was not a German, but an Ustasha camp, so the story did not fit into the ideological matrix of the occupiers being guilty for everything. In Jasenovac, members of one Yugoslav people murdered members of others - Serbs, Jews, and Roma."

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