bosnia report
New Series No: 27-28 January - May 2002
Levy needs protection in Belgrade

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy estimated that most Serbs had wanted former FRY president Slobodan Milosevic, and invited the audience attending a showing of his film Bosnia in Belgrade’s Reks Cinema to ‘get rid of the little Milosevices in their heads’. But after the film - which provoked stormy reactions - had ended, he denied that he had ever ‘demonized the Serb nation’, and said that he had been happy when the fascist regime in Belgrade fell on 5 October [2000]’.

The documentary film Bosnia, filmed in 1993 and 1994, portrays the suffering of the civilians who were under siege in Sarajevo during those two years (out of nearly four years in total). The point of this ‘political film’, as the author himself suggested, was to stop the slaughter in Sarajevo, which also turned out to be the deciding criterion for his co-speakers. Levy, who was often interrupted by cries of protest from the audience offended at how the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was being presented, emphasized that ‘he had never identified the Serbian people with Milosevic’.

Most of the audience agreed with the judgment given by a member of the Commission for Truth established by current FRY president Vojislav Kostunica, who claimed that the film was ‘propagandistic’, portraying the defence of Sarajevo as an anti-fascist resistance. Levy, meanwhile, defending himself from the emotional, verbal assaults coming from the audience, insisted that throughout their history Serbs had proved themselves to be anti-fascists, yet that they had behaved in quite the opposite manner during the past decade on the territory of former Yugoslavia.

Director of the Centre for Cultural Decontamination Borka Pavicevic and film director Goran Markovic, who also took part in this discussion entitled ‘In search of truth and responsibility’, defended Levy and reacted to these frequent nationalistic, and occasionally anti-Semitic, outbursts from the audience. Pavicevic insisted that ‘everything can be relativized except a crime’, while Markovic called it cynical even to raise the possibility that shots of the massacre in Sarajevo’s ‘Markale’ market might not be authentic.

Although the atmosphere in the auditorium was on more than one occasion on the verge of turning into a full-scale incident, only verbal rather than physical excesses occurred. During the showing of the film and the discussion, several policemen were stationed outside the cinema, while one also stood in the corridor just outside the hall itself. The event was organized by Radio B92 and the Documentary Centre for the Wars of 1991-99. Levy, who had been considered persona non grata by the previous regime in Belgrade, arrived on this occasion with permission from the government authorities, in other words with a FRY visa.


ONASA (Sarajevo), 14 December 2001


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