Résolution 819 (Resolution 819) (2008)





Director:     .

Starring:     Benoît Magimel (Jacques Calvez), Hippolyte Girardot (Lherbier), Karolina Gruszka (Klara Gorska), Hristo Shopov (Momcilo Draganovic), Nevena Rosuljas (Amina), Dimitrije Ilic (Ratko Mladic), Christophe Odent (Le général Bernard Janvier), Emina Muftic (Hediba), Anezka Novak (Betty Deakins), Viteszlav Hajek (Radovan Karadzic), Borislav Rudic (Momir Pekic).

Language:   French, English, Serbian.

Made for TV movie.

the Bosnia War's Srebrenica massacre



Spoiler Warning:

"Former Yugoslavia, 1995, at the height of the war.  The Muslim enclave of Srebrenica is about to fall into the hands of the Bosnian Serb army, led by General Mladic and commanded by Radovan Karadzic.  For months, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has been seeking investigators.  A French commissioner, specialist in organized crime, volunteers.  This film is based on a true story."

Marseille, January 1995.  A man named Jacques Calvez cleans up his office and takes home what is his in a small cardboard box.

Srebrenica, Bosnia.  [73 miles (118 km) from Srebrenica to Sarajevo -- a bit north of the eastern direction.]  Muslim enclave under UN protection.  July 11, 1995.  The Serbs are shelling Srebrenica from hill positions just outside of the town.  General Ratko Mladic, Chief of Staff, Serbian Army, Bosnia takes out his binoculars to look over the town.  In the town people are trying to flee from the shelling.   UN trucks try to move the people out of the area but are hampered by all the refugees blocking the streets and roads.  The shells are falling around the refugee column.  There is a lot of screaming when the shells explode so close to the refugees. 

UNPROFOR post, Srebrenica.  Colonel Tom Karremans is on the telephone shouting that the town has been bombed for six days already and he is demanding for close air support. 

Zagreb.  General Bernard Nanvier, commandant of the UN peace forces.  The general listens as the colonel tells him that the hospital is packed with the dead and dying and in 48 hours they will be out of food.  Karremans complains that he can't even protect his own people, not to mention the innocent civilians.  The general says he absolutely cannot launch air strikes because the UN forces are peacekeepers.  The colonel then begs the general to contact NATO.  The general says he can't get through to NATO.  Now Col. Karremans loudly demands an air strike be launched. 

People are fleeing for their lives.  A Muslim woman named Amina yells out for her brother Nazim.  He runs over to his sister and mother.  He pulls out some men's clothing and tells Amina to dress up as a man.  She resists, so Nazim yells out:  "The Chetniks will rape young women!"  Amina starts putting on the long pants.   [Chetniks were Serb nationalist and monarchist paramilitary organizations formed as a resistance against the Ottoman Empire in 1904.  Several modern Serbian paramilitary organizations, formed in the 1990s after the breakup of Yugoslavia, chose the name "Chetniks", and consider themselves to be the continuation of the Chetnik legacy.  Wikipedia]

Gen. Mladic drives in the first Serbian tank into the city followed by many more Serbian tanks and personnel carriers.  He shouts out:  "Srebrenica belongs to the Serbs!"   This is followed by the statement:  "I give this town to the Serbian people!"  Serbian troops start flowing into the town.  The general says he has eight ranks of soldiers deployed around the town.  "If NATO attacks, you die!"  He goes on to say that they will move out the Muslims by buses.  The Serbs now disarm the UN troops, who are mostly Dutch. Now the women and children are separated from the men.  Nazim and Amina go with the men.  A woman grabs unto a male relative and for that she gets roughed up.  The Dutch colonel tries to stop this, but a Serbian officer named Momcilo puts a pistol to his head and stops him. 

Ten days later, International Tribunal, The Hague.  Commissioner Calvez is told that his first mission is to leave immediately for Bosnia.  The Serbs have taken Srebrenica, one of three Muslim enclaves.  UN Resolution 819 guaranteed Srebrenica security and protection.  The Serbs separated the men from the women and children and now the men are missing.  Calvez must find out what happened to the Muslim men.  If crimes against humanity have been carried out, Calvez must find the guilty parties, including those in high command.  A sobering fact is that Calvez will be operating all by himself. 

Tuzla, a little northeast of north,  northern Bosnia Muslim refugee assembly point.  [75 miles (122 km)  from Tuzla south to Sarajevo.  Tuzla is 58 miles (93 km) from Srebrenica.]  Jacques Calvez travels with a UN caravan to Tuzla.  He gets out of the jeep he has been sitting in and walks to find the Red Cross installation.  There a woman named Jasna comes up to greet him.  She will be his interpreter.  They shake hands and Jasna takes Calvez to his office in the building.  In his office he is soon inundated with a roomful of women with photos of the missing men in their lives.  Jasna tries to come to his rescue but she gets swamped by the women pushing to get Calvez's attention. 

After work Calvez goes to his apartment to sit down and relax.

Testimonies.  The next day Calvez uses a tape recorder to take down the testimonies from females who want to tell their stories.  The mother of Nazim says she recognized one of the soldiers as a former colleague  --  a high school teacher named Dusko Markovic. There was also one of her former students, Radoslav Djuric.  Doctor Zivko Ilic was one of the soldiers.  The men, however, did not use violence on the Muslims.  She starts to leave the office, but turns to tell Calvez that half way to Tuzla the bus made a stop. 

Flashback.  The soldiers threatened that if the women did not give them money or jewelry, they would cut off their breasts.  They took off one woman from the bus and  raped her.  After that the woman hung herself using the strap from her accordion.  One soldier took a photo of the woman hanging from the tree.  Nazim's mother has the photo with her and hands it over to Calvez. 

An old man walking in a forest reports to Calvez that he saw lots of corpses, including women and children.  The wolves had torn their bodies to shreds.  On other occasions the Serbs would use a loud speaker to call the men out of the forest saying that they were the Red Cross and would help the men.  The Serbs wore the blue helmets of the UN troops.  The old man did not trust these men and hid behind a tree.  He saw the Serbs shoot down all the male refugees after they drank the water that the Serbs had given them and sat down to relax

A Muslim man comes to Calvez's apartment at night.  He says his name is Mohammad and that he is the leader of the Muslim Bosnian resistance.  He tells him there was a massacre of Muslims by the Chetniks.  The man drives Calvez to a river and there he is rowed downstream to the sight of the massacre.  They get out of the boat and walk Calvez over to a bombed building.  Among the ruins is a large open space.  Here Calvez can see the traces of blood and hair of people who were shot or grenaded to death.  Mohammed says the Chetniks took the bodies away so no one would know a massacre occurred here.  Calvez starts taking blood and hair samples.  He also takes photos of the crime scene. 

Outskirts of Tuzla.  Here Amina is found and brought in to speak Calvez.  She tells him of the massacre. 

Flashback.  Amina, dressed as a man, is with her brother Nazim and many other men.  They hear the sounds of machine gun fire and the screams of pain as the Serbs mow down the Muslims.  Amina cries with concern and fear. The firing stops.  The Chetniks now come into the building holding Amina and the others and they march up to the top floor.  There Amina and the others hear the machine guns firing and the men screaming.  The Chetniks comes down the steps and starts shooting at the final group of Muslim men.  The Chetniks then go out and toast their war crimes.  They are laughing and having fun.

Amina has survived the mass killing.  Her brother is badly wounded, but she gets him to loosen the ropes binding her hands behind her back by the use of his teeth.  She tries to pull her brother upright but he is too badly wounded.  She starts slowly crawling on her belly over the bodies to get away.  Unfortunately, she does not know where the massacre site is.  Amina's mother is brought up to Calvez's office to greet her daughter.  The two women hug each other.  And they both cry when Amina tells her mother that Azim died in the massacre. 

UNPROFOR post, Tuzla.  Calvez hitches a ride on a UN copter to go to the US Embassy, The Hague.  He gets permission to look over the spy plane photos of the areas of the massacre.  He can't take the photos with him, so he takes his own photos of the aerial photography.

International Tribunal, The Hague.  Calvez shows by the aerial photographs that the area of the massacre has soil that has obviously been turned over by earthmovers.  He thinks these turned over earth areas are the sites of mass graves.  Then there's another place, not far from Sandici, where there are bodies laying on the ground.  And, not far from Branjevo, the earth is covered with bodies.  The evidence tells them that there was a great massacre in Srebrenica.  He adds that thousands of civilians were killed over a four-day period.  There only crime was that they were Muslims.  They haven't seen this kind of massacre since the days of WWII.  And the families of the dead deserve to be able bury their own brothers, sons, fathers, grandfathers and uncles. 

UNPROFOR post, Tuzla.  Armand Lherbier, DGSE, comes into the tent where Calvez is working.  With him, Lherbier has brought a complete list of all the Drina Corps officers. [The Drina is a 346 km long river, which forms most of the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.]  These men have all participated in ethnic cleansing under Mladic's orders.  An old hand at this is Momcilo Draganovic. 

Calvez shows picture of the war criminals to the Muslim women and they identify some of them as responsible for killing their children.  In fact, altogether the women seem to know all of these war criminals.

A Chetnik asks officer Momcilo what does he think Karadzic wants here?  The officer says he doesn't know.  What Karadzic is telling Gen. Mladic is that the Serbs are talking peace and looking for a way out for themselves.  Momcilo says the Chetniks are constantly being bombed in Sarajevo and the Americans have joined the war.  It looks like "Greater Serbia" is going to get the Chetniks in big trouble.  And the Chetniks worry about Calvez thinking his reports are going to blow up in the faces of the Chetniks. He also admits that they really screwed up big time in Srebrenica. 

Mladic calls Momcilo over to him.  The general wants a detailed map showing where all the bodies are buried. 

Bosnia-Serbia frontier derelict hospital.  Lherbier has called Calvez over because he has an interesting witness that will testify.  He says the Serbian rats are starting to abandon the ship.  The man was in a brothel drinking heavily and saying that it was shameful to have tortured Muslims.  His name is Stanic.  His buddy shot him twice in the stomach.  The man points out on the map the burial sites of those who were eliminated.  He also identifies a great many of the worst offenders against humanity. 

A peace agreement ending the war has been signed at the Wright-Patterson military base.  Presidents Tuzman, Izetbegovi and Milosevic, representing Serbia, signed the agreement.  Criminals Karadzic and Mladic may get immunity. 

Mass Graves.  Tuzla, Bosnia, IFOR American Base.  Four months later - Spring 1996.  Calvez is now in charge of a large group of people who will work on investigating the mass graves. 

Cancari Grave.  A back hoe digs the surface dirt off.  Calvez has a really hard time dealing with the smell coming from the corpses.  He takes many photographs of what they find.  One of the workers tells Calvez that a couple of days' work on the project and he won't smell a thing.  Calvez thinks he will never get used to it.  He really suffers through the next day.  Some Chetniks come out and from the top of a hill make threatening gestures to Calvez. 

Tuzla, Bosnia Kalesia Mortuary.  Calvez visits the mortuary and starts feeling sick again from the smells.  A Polish female volunteer named Klara explains that the skeleton of the person she is working on was an old man with lots of osteoarthritis.  Calvez sarcastically remarks:  "And the Serbians called them soldiers."

Calvez has the unenviable job of having to speak to the Srebrenica women.  They all start crying over their losses.  He says they are working hard to identify all the deceased and the women will have the bodies for burial.  They will use DNA techniques for the identifications.  At times even the interpreter starts crying. 

The scene with the women haunts Calvez night and day.

Hodzici Grave.  The mortuary work finally gets to the Polish woman volunteer Klara.  She locks herself in a private room where she can cry.   When she has gotten her composure back and sees Calvez, she gives him a passionate kiss on the lips.  Calvez seems a bit befuddled by the incident. 

Nova Kasaba Grave.  Klara digs up more bodies.  This time she finds a glass ball in the hands of one of the skeletons.  This upsets her and she goes into the forest, not remembering that there are still many mines remaining in the forests of Bosnia.  She steps on a mine.  Klara yells for help, but the back hoes are making too much noise for her to be heard.  And there are Chetniks watching the body recovery process. 

Klara has been gone for awhile and, finally, a woman friend of her's starts asking if anyone has seen KIara lately?  Calvez ears prick up at the mention of Klara.  They find Klara in the woods still with her foot on top of the mine.  Calvez checks for more mines in the vicinity.  She talks to Calvez about her past.  Her father was just one of the many Polish military officers who were exterminated by the Soviets in WWII in the Katyn massacre.  KIara says she is very scared and thinks she is going to die.  Calvez immediately tries distracting her by telling her she is definitely not going to die and by getting her to talk more about her childhood. 

Klara gets a cramp in her leg and it hurts.  Calvez starts cutting the boot away from around her calf.

A jeep arrives with a bomb expert.  He quickly does something that makes it possible for Klara to step off the mine.  At night Klara and Calvez have dinner together. 

Kosluk Grave.  Klara's friend complains to Calvez that all the corpses have been disarticulated.  Some sniper is zeroing in on Calvez.  An expert named Carlos says he thinks the bodies were moved in early autumn.  The sniper shoots Calvez's computer screen on his lap top computer.  Calvez says this is just another form of their program of intimidation.  Calvez asks Lherbier to talk to the locals and find a witness for him who knows something about moving the bodies in autumn. 

Lherbier drives Calvez to talk to a local.  The man says that in October of 1995, a Drina Corps officer asked him to dig graves.  His name is Vinko Pandurevic.  The first time he dug a grave was at a farm in Cerska.  Drazen Ferdjovic. 

Serbian Republic of Bosnia, Cerska Valley.  They talk to a reluctant Ferdjovic.  After a bit of pushing Fredjovic opens up and says that truck loads of corpses arrived at his place.  They buried the bodies in a field.  The stench was terrible.  Now the team starts testing the soil for bodies.  The problem is that already the ground is frozen too hard.  They can't dig here.  They will have to come back in the spring.

Karla says she is leaving for the winter, but they will meet again in spring. 

Calvez speaks to the committee dealing with war crimes.  He says the victims were from 7 years of age to 77 years of age.  He gives them a list of the the bodies found and a list of those who have disappeared.  Where have the missing bodies gone?  He thinks there has been a large-scale operation to camouflage the massacres of Muslim people.  They dug the bodies up and moved them to different isolated areas for reburial.  Many of the war criminals have already fled and can't be prosecuted.  He also says that the war criminals were treated as heroes by the local population. 

Back at the Fredjovic place, the young son throws some dirt at Calvez.  He says that the Chetniks killed his father.  He was shot two times in the head.  The boy blames Calvez for his father's death.

Lherbier says that Calvez should check the Bosnian-Serbian military headquarters. 

Zvornik, Serbian Republic of Bosnia, Drina Barracks.  Calvez's little army descends on the Drina Barracks.  Calvez and others search for important documents relating to crucial events.  One directive from General Miletic says:  "In the Muslim enclaves, we must create a situation of total insecurity, leaving the inhabitants no hope of survival." 

Banja Luka, Serbian Republic of Bosnia. "Metal Factory" --  English base.  Here Calvez receives a video tape of Chetniks killing  innocent Muslim civilians. The tape really upsets Calvez. 

Arrests.  The judge issues arrest orders for Radislav Krstic, Ljubisa Beara, Vujadin Popovic, Zdravko Tolimir, Dragan Obrenovic, Momir Pekic, Momcilo Draganovic, Vinko Pandurevic, Milorad Trbic, Momir Nikolic, Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic.

Serbian Republic of Bosnia, Banja Luka.  Momcilo Draganovic goes into a strip club (brief nudity) and then meets with one of his comrades, named Goran, who tells Momcilo that Mladic will protect them.  Momcilo tells Goran to get them passports so they can leave for the United States.  An uncle of his lives in Michigan. 

Belgrade, autumn 1998.  Mladic is received as a hero in the restaurant.  He tells his comrade that the authorities caught Momir Pekic.  He's the seventh man caught.  His friend says that the pig Momcilo is here, sighted in Banja Luka.  Mladic says Momcilo is a deserter and a traitor and he will pay for that.    He tells his friend to find the creep and bring Momcilo to him.

So the friend has two big fellows grab Goran and beat the man until he tells them where Momcilo is.  They let Goran go but then he is snatched up by Lherbier and associates.  They demand that Goran tlell them where Momcilo will be.  He tells them.

Goran is back in the strip club. General Philippe Rondot, Special Operations Adviser, and Lherbier and his associates are at the strip club too.  And so are the guys who roughed up Goran.  Momcilo is grabbed by the Lherbier group before the war criminal group can grab him.  Momcilo is taken away.  Mladic's friend now wants to kill Goran for his ratting to the authorities.  One man grabs Goran and Mladic's friend shoots him dead. 

"Metal Factory" English base, Banja Luka.  Interrogation of Momcilo begins.  Momcilo says who cares about Srebrenica when there are 200,000 dead in this war?  Calvez cares and he shows it by confronting Momcilo with the facts:  10 execution sites, 43 mass graves.  Momcilo says then why not talk about the mass graves for the Serbs killed in 1940?  He adds:  "We fought to rid ourselves of these Muslim parasites. . . . Mladic's order was: 'Kill them all.'" 

Calvez says he wants to know where the other mass graves are located.  Momcilo points at a point on the map and says Mladic was here moving bodies out with back hoes (responsible for the disarticulation of so many bodies).  The conversation makes Calvez sick to his stomach and he goes outside.

The trials begin in The Hague of the war criminals.  After it is all over, Calvez is still left with a feeling of incompleteness. 

"8,000 disappeared in the Srebrenica massacres.  Half have been identified.  In 1998, General Krstic was the first of 14 Serb officers arrested and sentenced for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.  Radovan Karadzic was finally arrested in July 2008.  This film was partly inspired by French commissioner Jean-René Ruez." 


By now I have watched a lot of films about the Bosnian War.  I never seem to tire of watching these movies.  To me they all seem to be good films.  And this one is no exception.  This film, however, is also taking a different approach.  It follows the work of a Frenchman named Calvez who is sent to investigate reports of genocide against the Bosnian Muslims.  It doesn't take Calvez long to be swamped, by women especially, telling of terrible tales of mass killings.  Poor Calvez has a very hard time at his job, especially when the stench from digging up of the mass graves effects him so terribly.  The movie is also good because it follows the deeds of several Serbian war criminals.  We see the war criminals on the run, always having to look over their shoulders to see if they are being pursued by the authorities.  Calvez may have been left with a feeling of incompleteness, but it feels good to know that some of the war criminals were tried and sentenced. 

Benoît Magimel (as Jacques Calvez) was physically perfect for the role of investigator.  He looked like a shy, quiet man, a good man, who took on a tough job willingly and pursued justice with a fierce intensity.  We know there are a lot of very bad men around, but there are also some good ones too. 


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