Films of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
Sarajevo Ground Zero (1994): SaGA’s Films of Crimes and Resistance Produced Under Siege, 1992–1993: Trevor Laurence Jockims
Trevor Laurence Jockims
The film Sarajevo Ground Zero as an instance of “Sarajevo super-realism,” reflects a mode of participatory documentary in which the filmmakers from the production house Sarajevo Group of Auteurs, capture and document the very events they themselves are living through—namely, the war, blockade, and genocide that occurred in Sarajevo, Bosnia, from 1992 to 1995. This war, which coined the unfortunate term “ethnic cleansing”—a political linguistic dodge created by Western powers who did not want to be compelled into action by the genocide happening before the world’s eyes—saw an area of the world that seemed to exemplify diversity and multi-ethnicity torn apart by a small faction of extreme Serb nationalists. These nationalist forces surrounded the city of Sarajevo, effectively holding it—and its citizens—hostage. Less than a decade after hosting the 1984 Winter Olympics, Sarajevo became the sight of the longest military siege in modern history. Sarajevo Ground Zero documents, and cries out for help from, the very center of the siege.
Sarajevo Ground Zero is a fascinating instance of the aesthetic and humanitarian possibilities of film’s response to war and genocide. The collaborative effort of SaGA (Sarajevo Group of Auteurs) and Globalvision, a New York-based activist film group, Sarajevo Ground Zero simultaneously points to the representative powers of film in its response to atrocity, and the humanitarian and political limits of such representation. Globalvision’s Danny Schecter, co-producer of the film, released Sarajevo Ground Zero to illicit interest and aid...
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