Premiere screenings of BIRN’s new documentary, which follows six young people from six Balkan countries as they travel across the region examining how the conflicts of the past have affected their lives, were held on Thursday evening in Belgrade.
During their journey, the six young participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia meet war veterans, refugees, unrepentant nationalists and people who advocate reconciliation.
The screening in Belgrade on Wednesday evening was followed by a debate about the legacy of the conflicts for the younger generation.
Maja Micic, from the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, said that the next step for the region was to have politicians who genuinely face the past.
“This is the moment when the state needs to show with its actions that it is aware of the horrific war that took place and needs to show understanding for the victims,” Micic said.
Dejan Remetic from the youth wing of the governing Progressive Party, said that ordinary people also had to get involved and not rely completely on politicians.
“The government has that responsibility, but it also important to have youth, some new generation, like we saw in this movie, that will bring about change,” Remetic said.
Biljana Cincarevic, a Serbian painter, said that the media as well as the state has a crucial role in informing the younger generation about what happened during the wars.
“It is important to speak about this and say that nationalism is very dangerous. That is what the state needs to say to its youth through education and the media,” Cincarevic said.
Two of the six participants in the film, Simona Milanovic from Serbia and Zvonimir Zvonar from Croatia, also spoke at the post-screening discussion.
Milanovic said that during the cross-Balkan road trip that formed the basis for the film, “I expected I would have problems, because I come from Serbia, which is always perceived as the aggressor”.
“Luckily, this was just a prejudice,” she said.
Zvonar said that although he was already informed about the conflicts which have taken place in the Balkans over the past few decades, it was a powerful experience to meet some of the people who had been directly involved.
“You hear and know about Chetniks, but it is very different when you meet all that face to face,” he said.
The film was first shown in Skopje in Wednesday and also on Thursday in Sarajevo, while further screenings are set for Pristina on October 2, Zagreb on October 3 and Novi Sad on October 7.
A three-episode version of the documentary will also be aired on TV channels across the Balkans.
The documentary is part of BIRN’s Balkan Transitional Justice project, which aims to improve public understanding of transitional justice issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.