Serbian film promoted at Bosnia's Sarajevo Film Festival draws criticism

Serbian film promoted at Bosnia's Sarajevo Film Festival draws criticism

Critics say film glorifies war criminal Serbian commander Dragoljub-Draza Mihailovic

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - Serbian Director Rados Bajic's Heroes of Halyard met with criticism in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the grounds that it glorified the war criminal Serbian commander.

The film, which was promoted at the 29th Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF) on Tuesday, portrays the Chetnik forces led by the war criminal Dragoljub-Draza Mihailovic as positive actors who helped in the great rescue operation of the allied forces behind enemy lines in World War II.

The film shows that the operation to rescue the allied pilots was organized by US aviation in cooperation with the then Yugoslav army in December 1944.

Criticizing the promotion of the film at the festival, Sarajevo Mayor Benjamina Karic said on Facebook that the attempt to justify Draza Mihailovic and the Chetnik movement in Sarajevo is “unacceptable.”

In a statement, the Culture and Sports Ministry of the Sarajevo Canton said: “We do not support the content that supports the Chetnik movement in Sarajevo,” it said.

The Canadian Genocide Research Institute dubbed the film a "Chetnik drama."

“Sarajevo is a city that was besieged by the Serbian forces during the 1992-1995 war. It is shameful to promote such a film,” the institute said on Facebook.

The film tells a story about the three Jovic brothers and their family, torn between opposing ideologies.

Responding to criticism, a film festival official said: “In order to inform the public, I would like to state that the film in question was not shown within the scope of SFF. On the contrary, some frames from the film were shared under the heading of future projects. SFF will not allow the advertisement of films with historical interpretation.”

Operation Halyrad was carried out by Chetnik soldiers under the command of Serbian commander Mihaolivic in 1944 during the Second World War, while more than 500 Americans were evacuated in the operation.

Mihailovic was declared a war criminal and executed in 1946 for collaborating with the occupation forces and being held responsible for the deaths of 50,000 people.

Bajic, the director of the film, had said in his previous remarks that his movie tells a story about the barefoot Serbian people who at that moment found themselves in the most dramatic period of their history.

"In these and such conditions, the Serbian people showed their humanity, philanthropy, charity and heroism. Our project is therefore not a spectacle for the sake of spectacle, although we also have monumental sequences that reflect heroism, but the story is deeply personal and is given from the perspective of Serbian families through whose destiny the key events of that time are refracted," Klix, a Bosnian web portal, quoted Bajic as saying.

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