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Gotovina Film Reopens Old Yugoslav Wounds

Serbs denounce use of Bosnian military equipment in Croat-made film about the controversial general.

29 March 2017

The first thing to know about the film veteran Croat director Antun Vrdoljak is shooting is that it doesn’t star Penelope Cruz.


Croatian media incorrectly reported last month that the Hollywood star would appear in a biopic of military hero Ante Gotovina currently in production.


But Vrdoljak’s real problem is finding Croatian actors willing to put on Serbian uniforms for scenes set during Croatia’s war for independence from Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Serbian actors for their part are refusing to touch roles in a film about the man Serbs accuse of exiling thousands of ethnic Serbs from their Croatian homes, RFE/RL’s Balkan blogger Gordana Knezevic writes.


Meanwhile, Bosnian Serbs are irate about the use of Bosnian army hardware in the film. The head of the Veterans Association of Republika Srpska, Milomir Savcic, said the decision to loan the filmmakers five tanks and other military equipment was “unacceptable,” Balkan Insight reported earlier this month.


Antun Vrdoljak on set. image via Livno/Youtube.


In the film, entitled The General, Croatian-born Hollywood actor Goran Visnjic plays Gotovina, a man revered and reviled in various parts of the former Yugoslavia for his exploits during the 1990s.


During the Croatian campaign against local Serb separatists in 1995, an estimated 150 Serb civilians died and some 200,000 fled to Serbia. In 2011 the Hague tribunal sentenced Gotovina and a second co-commander of the campaign, Mladen Markac, to 24 and 18 years in prison respectively for crimes against civilians during the operation. Celebrations broke out across Croatia when their convictions were overturned in 2012.


The film is scheduled for release next year. Croatia’s national broadcaster is also planning an eight-part TV series about Gotovina, according to a separate Balkan Insight story.


Production company Kiklop told Balkan Insight it had no idea where the media got hold of the false news about Cruz’s role in the film, adding, “It would be very nice if such a thing was even possible.”



  • Many communist-era Albanian films could be banned from being shown on television if draft legislation initiated by the country’s Institute for Communist Crimes becomes law.


  • For these films, the most popular subjects are the World War II exploits of Albania’s communist partisans. The institute’s director described the movies as “a massive brainwashing tool” and “an ethical and aesthetic catastrophe” for the younger generation.


Compiled by TOL
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