News 17 Aug 15

BIRN’s War Movie Premieres at Sarajevo Film Festival

BIRN’s latest feature-length documentary ‘The Unidentified’, investigating the commanders responsible for some of the most brutal attacks of the Kosovo war, will be screened at this year’s Sarajevo Film Festival.

BIRN Sarajevo
The Sarajevo Film Festival will show 259 films from 57 countries. Photo

BIRN’s film ‘The Unidentified’, which names the Serbian officers who ordered attacks on Kosovo villages around the town of Pec/Peja in 1999 and those involved in the cover-up operation to hide the victims’ bodies, will have its international premiere on Tuesday at the 21st Sarajevo Film Festival.

The documentary is a result of a two-year long investigation. It takes viewers back to 1999, to the villages of Ljubenic, Cuska, Pavljan and Zahac near Pec/Peja in Kosovo, where Serbian fighters killed more than 118 Albanian civilians. Their bodies were either burned or removed, and some of them were later found in mass graves at the Batajnica police training centre near Belgrade in 2001.

The trial of 11 fighters alleged to have been involved in the killings - 10 of them accused of being direct perpetrators - is still ongoing in Belgrade. In February 2014, nine of them were sentenced to a total of 106 years in jail, but the Belgrade-based appeals court annulled the verdict in March, calling it “incomprehensible and contradictory”, and sent the case for retrial.

“After following the trial for more than two years, we wanted to go beyond the courtroom and show both victims’ and perpetrators’ view on these events to a wider audience. The people who are on trial are the direct perpetrators and we wanted to discover who were the ones who masterminded everything,” Ristic said.

The police and army generals who gave the orders have never been prosecuted in Serbia.

“It’s unfortunate that 16 years later, victims of these crimes still have to wait for justice,” Ristic said.

This year's Sarajevo Film Festival will show 259 films from 57 countries and many will be films from the Balkans and Central Europe. Nevertheless, the main star and special guest of the 2015 festival is coming from Hollywood.

Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro will be promoting the film "A Perfect Day", directed by Spain's Fernando Leon de Aranoa, in which he stars alongside Tim Robbins and Bosnian actor Fedja Stukan.

Del Toro will also receive the festival's traditional award, The Heart of Sarajevo, which in the past was given to stars such as Angelina Jolie, Gael Garcia Bernal, Steve Buscemi, Bela Tarr and others.

The most popular open-air cinema programme will offer several interesting films, such as "These Are the Rules," by Croatian director Ognjen Svilicic, "Irrational Man," by Woody Allen, "Chronic," by the Mexican director Michel Franco, and the Indian-French-British film "Tigers," directed by the Oscar-winning Bosnian film-maker Danis Tanovic.

The competition selection will include films from other countries such as Turkey, Romania, Greece, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia.

The Sarajevo Film Festival was started during the war-time siege of the city in the 1990s. It has since grown into one of the biggest such events in Europe.

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