ICTY Goes Movies

The Berlin Film Festival is over. In the end it was a very political one, which is not something I particularly like. Political subjects in cinema are just too often prone to political correctness, to shoulder-tapping, indicating that we the director, the jury and the audience are on the right side, they are all the good ones. It is the effect pushed by the likes of Michael Moore and Al Gore, where facts don’t matter, as long as the message comes across.

There were a few films in Berlin, which told stories that were oh so predictable, like Rachid Bouchareb’s London River. Given the theme, I went to the Storm with a high dose of scepticism. How many stories have we read, how many films have we seen on the subject of Bosnia and the war, which were merely a pretext to brag about the righteousness of our Western hero, painting the world in clear black and white.

What a surprise Storm was then! Not a trace of all that. The story was very solidly researched, and revealed if not the inner life of the ICTY, then at least the mechanisms driving it – or rather preventing it from being efficient. The story did not lack drama, suspense and rhythm. But the film’s main focus was on the interaction between its two main female characters: the prosecutor, played by Kerry Fox, and her new witness, convincingly embodied by the Romanian Anamaria Marinca. Two courageous women, strong, but not perfect, both with motives beyond the trial. They act because they don’t have a choice, getting as close as they can to the truth, risking a lot, failing and being successful at the same time. 

And if justice is done to a certain degree, it is against the resistance and threats of criminal structures in Bosnia. This is expected and not surprising. But justice is done also against the political machinery within the ICTY and in its environment – the UN and especially the EU.  The message is plain and convincing.

The film is a plea for the work that the ICTY should do: uncover the truth about the crimes and bring those responsible to justice. Instead,  its work is often perverted by political interests and deals, by the logic of the UN and the powers driving it. 

In doing so, it applies a firm language, trying a realism sometimes bordering the documentary. It comes as no surprise that direcor Hans-Christian Schmid has experience in both genres. A good example that political cinema can and should entertain. And that it can and should avoid the dictate of political correctness.


Vision! Come on…


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