War Crimes (2005)

 

 

 

 

Director:     , .

Starring:     James Bickersteth (Foreign Fighter I), Dean Bolt (JNA Soldier), Jan Castellari (Daughter), James Elworthy (Avram), Karam Ezzideen (Nic), Strawberry Fields-Forever (Civilian), Gary Fisher (Zaim Beganovich), Sean Fisher (Nenad), Ian Grey (Civilian), Sampo Haarlaa (Base Control), Mike Hogan (Radoslav), Keris Hopkins (Becky), Mathew Jenkins (Uros), Victoria Jenkins (Cathy), John Jenner (Lt Brcko), Tim Lynch (Suljo Memich), Owain McNeil (Sead Hasanovich), Stuart Moss (Rastko), Steven Nicholas (Captain Markovic), Earl Palmer (Scott), Gareth Parkinson (JNA Prisoner), Ashra Price (Claire), Nathan Raikes (Civilian), Martin Reeves (Classic Car Driver), Toby Robinson (Christoff), John Roderick (JNA Soldier), Alex Shergold (Civilian), Rhyan Shipp (JNA Soldier), Nick Silverstone (Insulting Chetnic), Graham Smith (Sgt Dresnos), Gareth Wainfur (Paul), Teddy Weiser (Anka), Alan John Whiting (Father), Michael Wilkinson (Dobrica), Kenneth John Young (Alic Fadil).

Language:   Serbo-Croatian, English.

six recent British graduates travel to Bosnia and are confronted by the war there; they desperately try to get out of Bosnia alive

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

"Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992.  Fighting between ethnic-Serbs, Muslims and Croatians has been getting worse over the last year.  Peace demonstrations have begun, mostly in the capital Sarajevo.  Foreigners head to  the capital to try and stabilize the region.  Reports are growing of 'ethnic cleansing' and the massacre of civilians."

6th of April:  5 miles south of Zenica.  [It is the fourth-largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, located about 70 km (43 mi) northwest of Sarajevo and is situated on the Bosna River, surrounded by a mountainous and hilly landscape.]

A battle rages between two forces.

 

Flashback.

Four days earlier.  A group of friends from the UK have come to Bosnia at a  time of war. 

7:32 p.m.  The friends set up camp and start a campfire.  A young man by the name of Christoff seems to be one of the leaders of the group.  Christoff asks one of the members of the group why they came out here?  A woman says they were concerned about all the killings going on in the Balkans. 

3rd April: 21 miles north of Sarajevo.  The group of seven (4 guys and 3 gals) take a photo of the whole group  They get into the large jeep and start heading to Sarajevo.  Christoff gets a call over the radio.  The caller tells him that Serbian tanks are moving toward Sarajevo.  Christoff replies:  "Jesus, I didn't think there would be any fighting."  The caller tells Christoff don't even think about coming to Sarajevo.  The caller's building is hit by some type of artillery fire. 

Christoff says he has to shorten their trip.  They're not going to Sarajevo.  Some of the group say they have to go to Sarajevio.  They need their help there.  Christoff says that there will be no discussion of the matter.  Fighting is going on and he's not going to Sarajevo.  Case closed. 

They go through some rough areas on unpaved paths.  Christoff decides to quit a little early and then get an early start tomorrow. 

4th of April.  In the morning Christoff tells the group that he's not sure which groups are doing the fighting, but their own objective is to stay away from the fighting.  And for sure, they want to avoid the Chetniks.  He explains that the Chetniks are an irregular group of fighters, who say they are fighting for Serbia, but they mostly fight for loot.

The group drives for awhile, but Christoff stops when he sees smoke ahead.  He and two other guys get out and run ahead with their binoculars.  They want to see what's going on.  They run up a steep hill and at the top of the rise they lay on the ground to use their binoculars

Below them is the village of Miricina.  The Serbian troops are approaching the village now.  There are Muslim families living there.  The soldiers start rounding up the Muslim men and women.  They slit the throat of one of the male villagers. A woman protests over this and the man responsible shoots her in the head.  A young male villager makes a run for his freedom, but he's shot in the back.  The commander notices Christoff on the top of the hill looking down on the soldiers with binoculars.  A sniper shoots at Christoff and hits him.  Christoff goes down. 

The commander now tells  the murderer Brcko to assemble his Chetniks.  He tells him to go find out who are those people watching them from the top of the hill.  Brcko finds it hard to believe that the commander wants the strangers brought back alive.  The commander says to him:  "Yes, Brcko, I want survivors!  Now move!"  Next the commander tells Rastko to call out air support to bomb a group of Muslims at these coordinates.

Two young British women bring the stretcher up the hill. Christoff appears to be dead, but a male British member of the group is also wounded.  They put the wounded man on the stretcher and take him down to the jeep.  Scott is now the leader.  He says they are heading to the border to get out of Bosnia. 

Brcko and his Chetniks reach the body of Christoff.  They check Christoff's papers.  Brcko radios Captain Markovich and says the group looks like students doing some kind of peace protest.  The one body here is of a British man.  He has a work permit for Sarajevo.  The Captain tells Brcko to bring the students to him.

Brcko thinks the students are following the old road to Zenica.  He calls the Captain who tells Brcko that he has to get those students.  Sergeant Dresnos is meeting up with his men on the outskirts of Zenica.  They will take Zenica and fast!  After the Captain leaves Dresnos says he hates that piece of shit Markovich. 

Scott has to stop the jeep because the engine is over-heating.  The jeep has an oil leak.  They are going to have to walk when the oil gets too low.

42nd JNA Motor Rifle Regiment.  The men march behind two cars on the paved road. 

Scott runs into a burned out car on the road.  And now here comes the Serbs. 

Brcko is still tracking the British group.  They estimate that they are about 5 hours behind the Brits who are now traveling on foot, carrying their wounded man on a stretcher. 

The captain catches up with Brcko. 

One of the Brits starts going mad and demands to see the map.  In the struggle over the map the disturbed man falls off the path and rolls way down the forested hill.  His colleagues look for him, but can't find him.

At night an animal attacks the wounded man.  The man is probably dead.

5th April.  There are now only three women and one man, Scott, left. 

The Chetniks find the British man who rolled down the hill.  They start torturing the Brit, while asking him:  "Who are your friends?" 

The four British students decide to make it down to the river and follow it.  When they reach the river, the Bosnian forces grab them.  Cath introduces herself to the leader, and then introduces Scott, Becky and Claire.  The military leader wants to know why are they being chased by the Serbs?   Scott asks if they are Muslims?  The leaders says yes and then asks the Brits if they thought they were with the JNA?  He explains that the old JNA is the now army of the Serbs.  They are enemies of the free people of Croatia and Bosnia.  Scott tells the leader that he documented Serbian atrocities against the poor Muslims of Miricina with his camera.  The leaders says they will take the students to their headquarters in Sarajevo.  Scott tells the leader that the Serbs have taken Sarajevo. And that's why they are headed to Vinicia.  So the military man says they will escort the students to Vinicia.  The leader says his name is Hasanovich. 

So the students go with the Bosnians.  While walking, they have to hide from passing Serbs/Chetniks.  After the danger passes, two soldiers agree to go ahead of the group and scout the best and safest route to take.  One of the scouts, Fadil Alic, gives Scott his knife. 

6th April: 12 miles south of Zenica.  The two scouts take a Chetnik outpost by stealth and the knife.  And the scouts have one prisoner.  They call back to the leader, who catches up with the two scouts.

The one British prisoner is still being tortured.  The Chetnik leader calls the group of Bosnians.  He tells the British students to give themselves up or their British friend will die.  And if the students give them what they want, they will all be let go.  Scott says they will make a deal with Brcko.  The negotiations fail and a shot is heard over the radio.   Perhaps Brcko has shot the hostage in the head.

The Bosnians and their allies start walking again. The Chetniks open fire on the Bosnians, knocking out one of their men. 

 

Back to the present.  6th of April. 

The Chetniks vastly outnumber the Bosnians and their troops push closer and closer to the Bosnian troops.  The Chetniks are taking too many casualties and some of the Serbian troops with them start leaving the battlefield. 

Becky is badly wounded. 

One of the Bosnian scouts, Fadil Alic, is wounded and he stays back to delay the Chetniks.  The scout, however, doesn't have enough ammunition to last long.  He kills a Chetnik with his knife.  Now Brcko decides to knife fight with Fadil.  In the fight, the scout kills another Chetnik who tries to help Brcko.  In the end, Brcko manages to kill the scout.  But the other Bosnians and the British students are ahead of the Chetniks now.

One of the Chetnik soldiers argues that they don't need to capture the British students and take their photos.  But Brcko wants to kill both Markovich and Dresnos.  He wants the photos in order to get from Markovich what he owes him and the other Chetniks.  The soldier continues to argue with Brcko until the psychopath ends the argument by killing the soldier.  He then tells the other Chetniks to just follow their orders or they will receive the same fate.

Brcko now radios Dresnos to tell him to meet him near the Eastern Road. 

7th April: 5 miles south of Zenica.  Hasanovich tells Scott that there are more Serbs up ahead.  The Serbs are trying to stop them from getting into the city. 

JNA Barricades - City of Zenica.  The fighting starts.  Dresnos holds on to his position.  Hasanovich tells Scott that now the Serbs have blocked the city.  He also tells them to escape by running down a path.  His men will provide them with covering fire.  On the other side there is a road.  Now there are only three British students left.  Accompanied by one Bosnian soldier they start running. 

Dresnos and his men are waiting for the students from hidden positions.  The firing starts.  Markovich radios Dresnos saying:  "Dresnos, they are yours, kill them all!"

Claire has been killed.  Now it's just Cathy and Scott.  Scott is now wounded.  He tells Cathy to leave him behind.  Cathy starts running.  Brcko now shows up demanding that Scott give him the roll of film.  Lt. Brcko now starts kicking and hitting Scott. 

A Bosnian soldier is wounded in the left shoulder.  Brcko has his knife out and threatens to kill Scott.  Now Scott remembers that he has a knife.  He grabs it from behind him and sticks it into Brcko's neck.  Brcko goes down.  He soon dies. 

Now we learn that Cathy is the one with the film. 

"Cath eventually returned home to Britain and handed the camera film over to the authorities.  It was used as the primary evidence against war criminals.  Scott Meyer was never heard from again.  Captain Markovich was arrested in 1997 and finally indicted for war crimes in 2002.  Like many of the Bosnian regiments, no records were kept. Their future is unknown.  Fadil Alic's fight went down in legend.  He became a national hero."

 

Rather short, but good film.  A group of private aid workers from Britain organize their own resources and travel to go help the Bosnians, mostly medically speaking.  The problem is that the fighting has gotten so much worse now in Bosnia.  The British group of young people get themselves into deep trouble.  The Chetniks and the Serbs want to kill the British aides because they have evidence of war crimes by the Serbians and Chetniks.  The British and the Bosnians they team up with have to try to keep at least one step ahead of the enemy.  This is not an easy thing to do.  The acting at times seemed a little stilted.  The production looks like it was done on a small budget.  Nevertheless, it's still a good movie.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

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