I have already written three posts about the film Resolution 819, about the genocidal massacre of Srebrenica, but i’m not satisfied, so today I’m posting two more.
I’ve been googling searching the keywords ‘Resolution 819’, and I came to the conclusion that there is hardly anything relevant written in english and available online about this film. I’m not surprised, this is the problem with european cinema, national boundaries are hard to cross.
There are some more materials in French, because it turns out that this film has already passed on french TV Canal Plus on 27 October 2008 , but nothing relevant in english, at least nothing that I could find.
So, I think it’s useful to provide both the regular readers and those who come here through google searches with a more extended excerpt of the article published on Osservatorio sui Balcani by Andrea Rossini, who covered the projection of the film in Sarajevo. The article also adresses the issue raised by Hasan Nuhanovic, and incudes a small interview with the director.
I’m posting most of the article except for the journalist personal considerations, not that they are not relevant, but because it would make the post too long.
In another post I’m giving Hasan Nihanovic’s own opinion about this film, now that he has already watched it.
Translated by Owen Beith (thanks, Owen!)
The Sarajevo premiere of Resolution 819, a French film about the massacre at Srebrenica by Italian director Giacomo Battiato.
Cinema, history and the construction of the past.
The public’s reaction, the director’s comments.
“I am a bit concerned about the screening tomorrow [Wednesday]. I have come here from abroad to talk about their history. I was very motivated and I made this film in a spirit of absolute honesty. But I don’t know what the reaction here might be …”
The anxiety that Resolution 819’s director Giacomo Battiato had confided to us the evening before the film’s premiere in Sarajevo disappeared after an hour and a half. The audience in the People’s Theatre watched the screening in almost religious silence. In the auditorium were survivors, relatives of the victims – the women of Srebrenica. Women who had been there in July 1995. They watched the cinematic reconstruction of the killings in anguished amazement. The story of the fall of the enclave was accurately recounted. There was tentative applause as the closing credits began to roll, which slowly built to an ovation. Amor Mašović, a man who has dedicated his life to searching for the missing, rose to his feet in the centre of the auditorium and invited everybody around him to do likewise – Nataša Kandić, Florence Hartmann, the anthropologist Ewa Klonowoski and many others who over the years have played their part in the search for the truth about Srebrenica. Finally Giacomo Battiato returned to the stage and modestly expressed his personal gratitude to the Sarajevo audience.
The previous evening the director had explained his motivation to journalists: “I decided to make this film for two reasons. There have been some excellent documentaries made about Srebrenica, but a film speaks to the emotions and allows you to reach a lot more people. I wanted to tell a story that was not just about the suffering of the Bosniaks but also about the passivity of the international community, and the feeling of guilt this could have been allowed to happen. At the same time, though, I wanted to show something positive as well, the story of a French investigator [Jean René Ruez], and how so many people have contributed to the work of trying to establish the truth and bring the criminals to justice.”
The screening was prefaced by a controversy raised by Hasan Nuhanović, the United Nations interpreter whose family died at Srebrenica and who eventually decided to take legal action against the Dutch government for its failure to protect them. In an article for the weekly journal Dani, Nuhanović told of his confusion after seeing a shot from the film showing one of the [U.N.] Blue Helmets clashing with a Serb soldier. Nothing like that ever happened at Srebrenica, Nuhanović maintained, expressing his hope that the film would not distort history by exculpating the United Nations. The confusion was cleared up after Nuhanović and Battiato met here in Sarajevo. Apart from this episode the film’s stance is unambiguous, the message that Resolution 819 tells about the role of the international community is very clear. The situation is described in merciless detail, starting with the desperate telephone calls made by the Dutch commandant at Srebrenica (Karremans) to the United Nations general in Zagreb (Janvier), who refuses to order air strikes. The Dutch soldiers then hand over uniforms and equipment to the Serbs, who carry out killings disguised as Blue Helmets. This is precisely the scenario that the scene that inspired Nuhanović’s article describes: a Dutch officer just for a moment ceases to be a soldier and reacts as an ordinary human being to a violent assault on a girl. And then almost immediately the soldier resumes the role that Dutchbat was assigned at Srebrenica in the summer of ’95, ordered to do nothing. The film is very hard on the international community. In a subsequent scene filmed at an imaginary road block in post-Dayton Bosnia, American soldiers allow a convoy of cars with the wanted Radovan Karadžić on board to pass through, on the grounds that “it’s better to avoid problems.”
We met Giacomo Battiato ahead of the film’s premiere before a Bosnian audience, fresh from its triumph at the Rome Festival. “If anyone had wanted to strike a bet with me I’d have lost”, he told us. “I never dreamed we’d win in Rome. The fact that the public voted for the film astonished me, it meant that the message had been received loud and clear.”
What is the reason, in your opinion?
It is a story about pain, and the sharing of pain, and along with the pain a sense of guilt that we experience when we discover that while we were enjoying ourselves on the beach, only a few kilometres away something unimaginable was taking place.
Italy knows nothing about Srebrenica?
Very little, and very superficially. I was astonished by the response of the media after the film won the prize in Rome. The newspapers began to talk about Srebrenica, people said to me “but I knew nothing about all that, but it’s true, so how is it possible?”
Previous posts on ‘Resolution 819′ on Café Turco:
History as written by other people, the transation of Hasan Nuhhanovic’s article Drugi pišu našu historiju, published on the newspaper Dani (thanks, Owen, for the translation) (24/11/2008)
Film ‘Resolution 819′ about the genocide in Srebrenica includes inaccurate scene that falsifies the truth, where I react to Hasan Nuhanovic’s article. (21/11/2008)