The proceeds from the sale of entry tickets to Jakov Sedlar's film, "Croatia My Love" ("Hrvatska ljubavi moja") will be paid into a 'foundation fund for the truth about the Homeland War in Croatia', located in Zagreb. The 'Zaklada za istinu o Domovinskom ratu' was established to support the defence of Croats in The Hague including Ante Gotovina. The film was screened in September 2006 in Australian Croatian Halls. Mr Jakov Sedlar is a well-known Croatian film-maker whose many films include "Gospa" (about Medjugorje) and "Four Rows" (about the Bleiburg genocide of Croatian people).
The film's objective is to tell the truth about the Serbian aggression against Croatia in order to justify Croatia's defensive "Operation Storm" ("Operation Oluja"). Putting the Homeland War into its proper historical context will help vindicate General Ante Gotovina, and other Croats who at present are wrongfully imprisoned by the Hague ad hoc Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Sedlar, a professional film-maker, drove the main argument of his film on several dimensions. Firstly, on an individual level, from the perspective of a Croatian defender (played by an actor) an emotional letter is addressed to Zeljka Juric. She is the little girl in the blue coat from BBC footage of Vukovar, after the fall of that city to Serbian bombardment. Zeljka's testimony symbolizes the anguish of all Croatian survivors.
The testimonies in English are an indispensable dimension of this film. Those who knew what was going on first-hand tell the story. Statements in both English and in Croatian were made by well-known intellectuals, politicians, journalists, military personnel and the Religious, such as Roy Gutman, Alain Finkielkraut, Robert Brown, Patrick Mackley, General El Thyeb, Zeljka Juric, Fr. Sudac, and William Perry the former US Secretary of Defence.
Another dimension to the film is the presentation of the Serbian bombardment of Croatia in the context of the long-term suffering of Croatian people. The Yugoslav Royalist Dictatorship, the Tito era, and the Bleiburg genocide set the historical context using archival film clips.
Graphics of some unethical pro-Serbian print media in Croatia, photographs, and film clips of President Tudjman, General Gotovina, and the Serbian bombardment of Croatian cities and unarmed civilians provide convincing testimony. Also the film criticizes the way in which the international media have stigmatized the Croatian struggle through their comparison between the Hague prosecutor Del Ponte and the late Nazi-hunter Wiesenthal.
But the film had its own comparison for Carla Del Ponte, the prosecutor at the Hague. Del Ponte was compared to a circus animal trainer in a caged ring in a scene of the film where the tamed circus animals symbolised the Croatian leadership's compliance with the Hague Tribunal and Croatia's membership of a future Balkan union.
A relevant contrast was made in the film between Knin and Sarajevo. The film argues that the surrounding of Sarajevo by Serbian forces did not cause people to evacuate, in contrast to the surrounding of Knin during Operation Storm, which met with little resistance because of Milosevic's prior evacuation order.
The climax of the film documents how the inhabitants of the so-called-Krajina in Croatia left on the orders of Serbian President Milosevic; and how Milosevic was forced to attend Dayton after Croatian forces arrived outside Banja Luka. The film finished with General El Thyeb's comment that it was the first time a general had been put on trial for defending his own nation, and that this was a violation of basic human rights.
To sum up, Sedlar's film puts Croatia's Operation Storm into the historical context of the former Yugoslav tyranny, and subsequent Serbian aggression; and it puts the Hague Tribunal into the category of a political show-trial. The ad hoc Tribunal at the Hague is exposed as an unethical, undemocratic and unaccountable court where aggression is whitewashed and victims are blackened. The film explains how the US fully supported Operation Storm throughout all stages, and knew through their satellite vigilance that no atrocities took place during that legitimate and professional military operation.
The film "Croatia My Love" is successful in its mission, especially with the English sub-titles. The film is a success because its main theme is substantiated by first-hand testimony within a balanced historical framework. The disbelief expressed over the inhumane behaviour of the Hague prosecutors gives the film an emotional and universal appeal.
Any critique must define the goals of the author, and then make a judgment whether or not the author has achieved those aims. In the case of "Croatia My Love", the film has definitely achieved its goal of explaining the truth about the Croatian homeland defence. And, Mr Sedlar assured me that his film will become available with voice-over dubbing in the English language in the immediate future, and this of course is most essential. Otherwise, without the English translation, the film is preaching to the converted and remains only a political statement for Croatian people amongst themselves. The defence of wrongfully accused Croatian prisoners at The Hague requires the truth to be known to the whole world, especially in the English language.
Jean Lunt Marinovic
Formated for CROWN by Ante Katalinic
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