Monday, February 09, 2009

Hague Goes Hollywood

Couple of years back, the Berlin film festival went crazy over Jasmila Zbanic's "Grbavica", a propaganda flick about the Bosnian war that harped on the theme of (alleged, fictitious) mass rapes of Muslim women. This year, a German director is tapping into the Bosnian atrocity porn, with a film described as "critical" of the Hague Inquistion (ICTY), but in fact another exercise in mendacity and propaganda.

Reuters reports: "German Bosnia film takes critical view of tribunal." Sounds intriguing, right? Except the story is described as one of a "determined prosecutor....struggling against time pressure and Serb nationalists." Huh? But wait, there's more:

In "Storm," the prosecutor's investigation of rape and murder charges is hindered by a powerful network of nationalist Serbs and then foiled by her own poorly prepared case. But just before it collapses, a witness to the rapes comes forward.

The trial is short-circuited by a behind-the-scenes deal involving the judge, the Serb's defense counsel and the prosecutor's pragmatic boss.

Let me see if I get this. The heroic Prosecutor knows that these evil Serbs (is there another kind?) are guilty of horrible murders and systematic mass rapes, but there's just no darn evidence for it. I mean, why else would the case be "poorly prepared"? Does that imply she's incompetent? Oh no, no, the heroic Tribunal is probably just short of money, or something, and you know, having to actually prove these charges is just so damned inconvenient... And then, of course, there's a "powerful network of nationalist Serbs" - which is probably based on the equally chimeric "joint criminal enterprise to create an ethnically pure Greater Serbia". That would be the alleged grand conspiracy every single Serb politician, soldier, policeman and whoever else they finger is automatically guilty of until proven innocent, never mind that it actually doesn't exist.

But never fear! For our heroine will be saved by the Last Minute Miraculous Plot Device (i.e. the witness)! And then, just to be properly postmodern and angsty (it is, after all, a German movie - so optimism is verboten), the righteous victory is thwarted at its moment of triumph by Lawyer Show Trope #37, the "pragmatic boss" making a deal with a wicked defense counsel.

The director, Hans-Christian Schmid, said "his film was fiction but was based on elements of cases he studied." Oh it's fiction, all right. Because none of these elements bear any resemblance to anything that's happened at the Inquisition.

So, again, how is any of this actually critical of the ICTY? Oh sure, right, the incompetent (kind of?) prosecutor we're supposed to root for, and the evil "pragmatic" boss who cuts deals with war criminals. Right. Except, you know, the deal-making boss is a complete and utter fabrication, as are the Serb lawyers and the "nationalist network." The only thing that even remotely rings true is the "poorly prepared" indictment - but even then that's supposed to be a charming character flaw of the woman we're supposed to like.

This isn't art, this is propaganda. The "criticism" amounts to accusing the Tribunal of not persecuting (not a typo) the Serbs hard enough - an accusation anyone even casually familiar with the Inquisition's opus over the past decade and a half would find utterly absurd.

Almost every single Serb who was seized ended up convicted, bullied into false confessions, or dead. Meanwhile, "commanders" of the terrorist KLA are acquitted, as are Muslim warlords who've openly boasted of their butchery to the cheering Western press.

Of course, had he tried to make a movie about the ICTY's epic failure to convict Albanian or Muslim warlords, Schmid wouldn't have received any funding. Had he somehow completed the movie anyway, it would have gone straight to DVD, rather than garner attention and praise at film festivals. But that's somewhat of a moot point, because it didn't even cross Schmid's mind to try, now did it? Everybody knows only the evil Serbs are criminals. And besides, note how the case at hand is about mass rape? Mass rape always gets media attention. Bleeding-heart interventionists in the West really love themselves some mass rape to get them in the proper mood of righteous indignation. Never mind that it's fiction, it's good fiction. In their minds, it should be true, and therefore it is. Kind of like Schmid's flick.

But for all the shlock, tropes, cliches, racist stereotypes resurrected from Nazi propaganda and pure old horse manure, this little piece of Tribunal propaganda just had to go that extra inch, and add insult to injury by adopting the very name of a Croatian military operation that ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Serbs in 1995.

I understand the Germans have a vested interest in declaring the Serbs genocidal; they probably think having someone else labeled that way would somehow water down the stain on their character that remains from WW2. And it would also provide a handy justification for German crimes against the Serbs back then, just in case the Serbs ever bring them up. But even so, this Scheisse is just too much.


Firefly said...

Hmph. Keeping up with the formulaic movie theme here, I wonder if there was there a love interest?

I bet it was the witness.

And they couldn't remain together because the witness had too many issues and a permanently 'haunted' look?

I'm in the wrong industry. This is so easy to do.

Deucaon said...

Back to Bosnia
Beautiful People
Behind Enemy Lines
The Enclave
The Hunting Party
Life Is a Miracle
No Man's Land
Pretty Village, Pretty Flame
Shot Through the Heart
Welcome to Sarajevo

Have you seen these films? Are any of them accurate (in any regard) in your opinion?

Suvorov said...

Well-said. I am glad my grandfather shot down one of these bastards in 1941. I enjoy reading your articles on antiwar. They possess perfect clarity and logic. I only wish you wrote more.

Gray Falcon said...

@ Suvorov: Thanks! I wish I could write more too, but I'm not doing this full-time.

@ Deucaon: I'll have to answer your question in a separate post, since the list is a bit too long for a comment. Stand by.

Suvorov said...

Do you write for any other websites or magazines? Thanks. Btw, I listened to your appearance on the radio as well.

Gray Falcon said...

I have a more-or-less regular column at, this blog, and its Serbian version ( Many more people repost my stuff on the web as they see fit.

Suvorov said...

What is your opinion of today's posting on I mean, do you think it is true that Milosevic made deals with Tudjman? Also, are you aware of any objective books written in English about the Yugoslav war? Thank you.

Gray Falcon said...

I've been meaning to write something about what Boljkovac said, just didn't want to rush into things. Several other people involved in events of the early 1990s have come out of the woodwork now, and their stories help fill in the blanks. I may post something about this by Tuesday, or may even make an Antiwar column out of it.

Suvorov said...

Thank you. I didn't mean to rush you. Have you ever considered writing a book about those wars or Balkan history in general (I hope I am not rushing you again...wink)? I went to my university library several days ago, but I saw mainly books with titles such as "The Serb Project" (the project of Greater Serbia, of course), as well as several volumes by Tim Judah and Noel Malcolm. Have you read Michael Parenti's "To kill a Nation?" Is it true that Izetbegovic actually lost the election to Fikret Abdic? I hope that's not too much at once. Thanks again.

Gray Falcon said...

Oh, I have considered it... But it takes a lot of time, resources and energy, which I don't have at the present. But maybe soon.

Abdic did indeed get more votes than Izetbegovic, but ceded the top seat at the Presidency to his party boss. I bet he wishes he hadn't.

I've read bits and pieces of Mr. Parenti's book, but not the whole thing yet. It's in my queue...

Suvorov said...

Thanks. Parenti describes how NATO seized those radio stations in Republika Srpska which opposed foreign occupation, and also carried out a series of political assassinations. It was probably the first time NATO showed its true colors.