KARADZIC AND US
Since the arrest of the former Bosnian Serbian leader, Radovan Karadic, I have been overwhelmed with emails from friends and colleagues . We all found each other during the war in Bosnia, a war that in so many ways has changed our lives. When the war was over, we filmmakers and reporters moved on to other projects and other films . Karadzic’s arrest was a sudden awakening to us all. Suddenly I found myself flooded with memories of people, places and encounters that I thought I had left behind. Compared to reporters spending months under fire in Bosnia , I was truly privileged. I began filming a year into the war. I visited Sarajevo a few weeks after a cease fire was arranged . I filmed in Srebrenica almost 6 months after the town fell and 8000 of its defenders and inhabitants were slaughtered. I was not a war reporter but an “archaeologist “, a “forensic” investigator piecing together the fragments of genocide. I soon realized that an investigation into a massacre can be as taxing as watching it unfolds. Interviewing refugees in the relative safety of exile allowed them to be more open and intimate. Suddenly I was privy to their most intimate thoughts and feelings as they described the experience of horror. I visited the scenes of the crime, like the small city of Zvornik where not a single Muslim inhabitant was left. I drove through the “cleansed” surrounding villages, now eerily empty . I filmed the local discotheque outside of Zvornik which was converted into an improvised concentration and torture center. It is the gap between these “peaceful ” images in the spring of 1993 and the detailed stories of the horror that had transpired there only a year earlier, that made an indelible impression on me.
“For the generation that lives through it , the documents of the War Crimes Tribunal are not that important“, I wrote to a friend , a refugee from Zvornik now living in Sarajevo. We exchanged emails after Karadzic ‘s arrest “…. but for generations to come, , these testimonies like those of the Nuremberg Trials will provide the backbone for our collective memory of what had happened”
I was jolted by the response:
“…I can only hope so… because, unlike the 2nd world war, in the Bosnian war there was no moral winner, and no closure – and that is soooo bad. and dangerous. and I can feel and see the effects of that every day“.
I felt ashamed by the banality of my email. For me the war in Bosnia was a memory, for everyone I left behind, the war was ongoing…no closure , no moral victory, only the danger of a conflict which could reignite.
I decided than and there that I will have to go back to Bosnia . I must continue some how to document the war that was over for all of us foreigners but is still raging in the souls and minds of its victims.
I have yet to work out in the coming months the details of the future project. However for now, please read Ed Vulliamy’s piece in this Sunday’s Guardian. It was Ed Vulliamy, the Independent Television News reporter and Roy Gutman ‘s an American print journalist who revealed in 1992 the existence of concentration camps in Bosnia. Their stories led me to Bosnia a year later. Ed’s revisit to Bosnia in the wake of Karadich ‘s arrest is a vivid testimony of the war that is not yet over .