“An unacceptable level of understanding for the Dutch”

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Mr. Nuhanović, as a survivor of the Srebrenica massacre, you criticized the work of director Jasmila Žbanić, who made a feature film about what was happening. What exactly do you dislike?

Michael Martens

Correspondent for South Eastern European countries based in Vienna.

Žbanić’s production company and I had signed a contract that would grant me the rights to my book “Under the Flag of the United Nations. The international community and the genocide of Srebrenica “have ceded. The book should serve as a template for a feature film. My book is about the days of the Srebrenica fall in 1995 and what followed. For example, the question is why there were no NATO air strikes against the advancing Serbian troops. Why was the enclave allowed to fall? Why didn’t the battalion of the Dutch UN blue helmet soldiers intervene? What have the various leaders in the military chain of command done and failed to do? It is a network with a large number of participants, right up to politicians such as French President Jacques Chirac. I think that should have been shown in the film. But Jasmila Žbanić found this too complicated, and instead decided to focus on two days of the massacre. She wrote a script for this, and I accepted it. I provided her with facts and memories.

Hasan Nuhanović

And when did the rift between you begin?

When she gave me the first version of the script, I had two hours to read it. I immediately understood that she had put my family at the center of her film. I had no objection to this, even if there were thousands of other refugees there whose stories could have been told. But she chose my parents, my brother and me. But many events and dialogues were completely invented. So she made something out of the real story of my template that never happened – and I couldn’t accept that. Of course, if you invent characters, you can also invent dialogues and events. But if you rely on a documentary template, the historical events must not be distorted. My family can’t complain, they’re dead. So only I can do it.

You said the worst scene was the one showing how you smuggled your family into the Dutch blue helmet contingent to save them. What’s wrong with that?

My brother had come to the site on the evening of July 10th. My family, like a few thousand other Muslims from Srebrenica, managed to get into the grounds the next day through a hole in the fence of the base. The Dutch later closed the hole and the rest of the people had to stay outside. The script said that I saw my family in the crowd outside and then intervened with the Dutch to get them to the base while everyone else was watching and shouting why they weren’t saved. Who will still trust me after such a scene? Should I spend the rest of my life telling people that the scene in the movie is not the truth?

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