Some days ago, I published a post about a filme called ‘Resolution 819’. The film had just been awarded at the Rome Film Festival.
Although I hadn’t seem the film, I though that it should be good news.My point then was that:
“Anything that may help keep the memory of Srebrenica alive and reach audiences that are usually not interested in this issue is more than welcome.”
Ever since, everyday people get to this post through search engines with the keywords Resolution 819.
Now, a deep shadow appears over this film, which makes me regret having promoted it in my blog. The film contains at least one scene that represents a falsification of the true, and this means the film cannot help keep the memory of Srebrenica alive, but rather that it may be an extra element to its abuse and falsification. I am sorry that I allowed myself to be carried away and not cautious enough, and I apologise that I mislead my readers.
Hasan Nuhanovic, the UN translator whose family was handed to the serbs by the Dutch UN peacekeepers, has just published an article on the bosnian newspaper Dani, where he states that the film contains at least a scene that falsifies the truth. The article is available for subscribers in bosnian here and for free in the site Osservatorio sui balcani. Since the english language is more widely known than italian, I decided to translate the article and I am posting now an excerpt. Please bear in mind that this is the translation of a translation: I am not a translator and I apologise for the mistakes, but I tried to be as accurate as possible. I hope all of those who know italian read the full version.
Hasan Nuhadovic has not yet watched the film, but he has seen this photo:
(you can see the photo enlarged by going to the Festival site here and clicking on the photo on the right side)
UPDATE: Here is the trailer, please take a look. The fact that this scene is considered important enough to appear at the trailer give is a worrying sign. At minute 1.10 you can also see a serb soldier bullying duch soldiers and taking the blue helmet from one of them.
“At first, I didn’t understand what it was about, but then I felt terribly angry, It as a real falsification of history, the representation of something that never happened. In fact, this is what I always feared, one of these scenes that I thought could happen in a film made by others an not by us.
In the photo-film scene you can see a UNPROFOR official wearing the uniform of the dutch army (it must be recognized that the film makers have shown great care for the details). In his head a blue beret, and around his waist a belt where he should have his gun. Thus it is an image that for an average spectator transmits respect. And here is his reasoning! He perceives him as an hero! But the problem is that it never existed. This has never happened.
In fact, in those days in July 1995, neither soldiers, nor UNPROFOR officers in Potočari, thus members of the dutchbat, ever wore such uniform outside the base. And this is not about the uniform, but about the fact that all, but really all the dutch that were outside the base (for any reson) were wearing shorts, t-shirt and blue baseball caps with the UN emblem. None was armed because they had received the order to leave the weapon at the base ‘not to provoke the serbs in any way’. At the same time, all the dutch militaryat, inside the base were in contact with the 5000-6000 bosniak refugees were armed, with helmets, bullet proof vests and fire weapons. Thus, the dutch (and not the serbs) in 13 July 1995, around noon, dressed in uniforms like the one the actor in the film, forced the bosniaks to leave the UNPROFOR base and handed them to the hands of the serbs that were waiting for them at the entrance of the camp. All the boys and young men were driven out and then killed.
In the face of this, not only the dutch didn’t do anything to avoid it, but they even allowed that it happened in this way and in others that I describe in detail in my book. (…)”
Hasan Nuhanovic contacted the Association of Mothers from the enclaves of Zepa and Srebrenica to show them the photo, and they joined him in his conclusion that here at stake is a falsification of History. But they also informed him that they, along with the Ministry of Culture of the Canton of Sarajevo, they had already sent a message to the film maker greeting him and thanking him, and inviting him to show the film, under their sponsorship, on an opening in Bosnia and Hercegovina (more precisely in Sarajevo).
“In this way, the Association, not knowing about scenes like this, gave the film director a blank check, in fact the mothers congratulated themselves for a film that non of us has watched yet.”
“Then, who put the contested scene in the film and why? This is a stereotype, the general though that in such situation there is always a young man ‘with balls’ that, well, frustrated with the behaviour of the serb military, if nothing else, will take one by his collar and then ‘drops the prey’ when another serb soldier pints him a gut at his head. This is just like Hollywood. This scene, if it is not eliminated from the film (and I it is what i will ask the film director), in the next 50 year will tell the generations to come that will watch it that the UNPROFOR men were constrained to do certain things, meaning that they couldn’t do anything because the were ‘at gun point’ (in english in the original). So, the forces of Republika Srpska because the whole UNPROFOR, all Europe, all Nato, were taken ‘at gun point’. In this scene, this UNPROFOR official, will be imprinted in the minds of the future viewers,, who will take it as indisputable truth. And even if the rest of the film showed a precise and accurate reconstruction of the tragic events, this scene will remain ecceptionaly controversial. Because through this scene the viewer obtains an image of the attitude of the rest of the world towards the executioners and towards the victims- Europe personified in UNPROFOR, after the so much repeated ‘never again’.
No, neither the UNPROFOR men, nor the dutch, no one of them had even the smallest gesture to grab a Serb through his neck. None of them. They were servile with the Serbs, they did everything the serbs told them, and even more than they were told. We cannot allow that this scene is shown with our consent, even if someone may say: this is just one scene, the rest of the film shows the events in a truthful way.
This we don’t know and cannot give anyone our trust before we watch the film.”
(this is an excerpt, the article is much more extended and addresses relevant questions).
UPDATE: A full translation of this article is now published in this blog, here (History as Written by Others). In case you want to quote it, please use the text published on the full version.
19 responses to “Film ‘Resolution 819’ about the genocide in Srebrenica includes inacurate scene that falsifies the truth”
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Thank you Sarah. The movie was based on a true-story of French Jean-René Ruez who was sent to Srebrenica to collect evidence of genocide. Unfortunately, no credit or monetary compensation was given to Jean-René Ruez for playing his character in a movie.
According to evidence collected from Srebrenica genocide victims and survivors by French policeman Jean-René Ruez, some were buried alive; he also heard testimony describing Serb forces killing and torturing refugees at will, streets littered with corpses, people committing suicide to avoid having their noses, lips and ears chopped off, and adults being forced to watch the soldiers kill their children.
I think it’s important to let the producers of this film understand what is at stake. Even admiting that this is a small detail, the extent of denial and relativisation over genocide is so big that even the smallest detail needs to be taken care of. I am disappointed to know that no efforts were made to contact survivors, namely the association of mothers.
As soon as I received your comment, I sent an email to Hasan asking him for more information and, I also contacted NGO Women of Srebrenica, advising them of the film. I haven’t watched the film, but if Dutch soldiers are presented as “heroes” in this movie, then the world may just turn upside down.
I will try to translate the rest of the article into english.
This is why I don’t trust foreign film makers when it comes to historical events 😦
Amila, the sad truth is that Hasan Nuhanovic is trying for all these years to find someone to make a film about Srebrenica and nobody has been interested, including Bosniak film makers. He clearly states that in his article, in a part that I didn’t have time to translate yet.
I don’t think it’s a matter of being foreigner. The film The killing fields http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Killing_Fields_(film)
is not made by cambodjans and still it gives a very realistic image of the genocide in Cambodja.
not to mention the great success that was hotel rwanda.
but I think I get what you mean, the memory of genocide in Bosnia is so systematically abused, and I am not even mentioning denial, it is abuse even by many of those who acknowledge it.
Hi Amila and Sarah,
It doesnt make much sense to create a movie about the Srebrenica genocide without any consultation with the survivors of this massacre.
As far as I know, there was no consultation with Srebrenica NGOs or relatives of the victims in making of this movie.
When it comes to genocide in Bosnia, everything is conveniently placed under the carpet. People are told “it was not that bad, only 100,000 died.” But the number of 100,000 dead is not final number. What about people that had nobody to report them missing? Whole families where wiped out. What about Srebrenica victims that were thrown into the Drina river? Who is going to recover their bodies? I still have people contacting me and asking why the names of their Srebrenica relatives, who died in July 1995, don’t show up in official lists of missing persons? Unfortunately, I can’t do much about it, so I refer them to contact the Center for Research and Documentation in Sarajevo who came up with such a low number of victims in the first place. They need to be held accountable.
100 000 is a huge number. Even if the total number of dead was exactly 100 000 it would be a huge number still. even more if we compare it to the total population before the war, 4354 911 according to 1991 census. so, it’s 100 000 in a population under 5 million.
an analysis of this number here:
Sarah, see this:
you are totally right, it doesn’t make sense at all to make a film like this one without having contacted the victims organizations.
another error in the scene here at stake is that it looks like it’s a clouded day, there is even fog, while in fact it was sunny, as we can see in the famous images of mladic making a tv statement on 11 july 1995.
Sarah, see this:
There is no question in my mind that Radovan Karadzic’s leadership committed genocide in Bosnia. He will be convicted of Srebrenica genocide, but before he gets his judgment, he will try to fake the UN judges. Remember, he and his cronies who support him had plenty of time to produce “faked” documents ‘proving’ that he issued orders to treat Bosniaks, Croats and other non-Serbs according to the Geneva Convention. There is no level-playing field here; the prosecutor is dealing with a crook and criminals who would do anything to prove his ‘innocence’ (even if that means falsification of documents).
But remember, Karadzic is also charged for Bosnian genocide, and concentration camps in North-Western Bosnia contained elements of genocide (please read full report here:
ops, Sarah, the last link I gave you should be about concentration camps in Bosnia. I was busy typing, so I made an error. Just substitute last link with the first link in my last comment so you can read the full report.
I can’t judge the film without seeing the whole of it, but yes, I think it’s extremely unfortunate that it portrays Dutch UN soldiers in such a positive way. Far from wanting to stop atrocities but not being able to, and observing the genocide in angry impotence, the evidence suggests that the Dutch troops were extremely racist toward the Bosniaks, that they really didn’t give a damn about the victims, and that individual Dutch soldiers were more likely to persecute Bosniak civilians themselves than they were to try to rescue Bosniak damsels in distress. In fact, the Dutch added to the Srebrenica casualties by running over fleeing Bosniak refugees in their armoured vehicles.
Again, I can’t judge a film I haven’t seen, but based on the YouTube clip, it looks as if the film-makers represent the current of European opinion that hasn’t faced up to the reality of democratic Europe’s role in the genocide. And the reality is that we didn’t just fail to act; our governments actively colluded with the aggressors and ethnic cleansers, and joined in the persecution of the victims.
Off Topic: Marko and Sarah, I thought you should know (good news!). Bosniaks in New York have purchased a church for $1.4 million dollars. They will convert it to the Bosniak Cultural Centre. See here:
Marko, take a look at this:
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