After the War: Life Post-Yugoslavia

After the War: Life Post-Yugoslavia
Following the Karadordevo Agreement between Croatian President Franjo Tudman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, which outlined the redistribution and annexing of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Croatia and Serbia, a conflict naturally arose in the former Yugoslavia. Serbian force — mainly those of the Army of the Republika Srpska — were accused of genocide, with proof of widespread killing, rape and ethnic cleansing, after the Bosnian War had ended, giving some idea as to the nature and severity of the conflict. The short documentaries available on the DVD anthology After the War: Life Post-Yugoslavia explores the after-effects and impact that this battle had on both the Bosnian and Serbian people. They are understandably draining and deliberately confrontational in their collective anger and sense of purpose, leading to an often interesting but not always successful viewing experience. The four short docs from Serbian director Zelimir Gvardiol are the most professionally made and affecting, having a complex understanding of ironic juxtaposition and dramatic impact. Father, Son, Holy Ghost tells the stories of three broken families during the war and the harsh realities they had to endure, which involved attempted suicide, murder and sewer birthing. Ravens examines the motivations behind Dusan Vukovic’s public denial of his deceased son’s medal of bravery, which was awarded posthumously. Familial discontent and rage demonstrate much of the Balkan plight in an insightful and emotionally stressful manner. While Gvardiol’s documentaries are thoughtful and affecting, those from the Bosnian camp are somewhat more amateur and awkward. Cowboys in Kosovo reunites a family who endured inhumane treatment and torture during the Bosnian War and has them dress up like cowboys and play with toy guns. While the mirroring between fictitious Westernized violence and unsettling Bosnian realities may have seemed clever on paper, it comes across as goofy and juvenile on film. It is, however, considerably more mature and professional that House of Wisdom, an American documentary short about the burning of the national library of Sarajevo. Close-ups of eyeballs and glib voiceovers make it almost unbearable. The DVD includes bios of all directors and in the case of House of Wisdom, a director’s commentary. (AMMAM)