Where the past is the present

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Ambassador Gabriele Chlevickaite about '15 Minutes: The Dvor Massacre'

The consequences of wartime decisions are portrayed in Georg Larsen and Kasper Vedsmand’s 15 minutes: the Dvor Massacre, a film exploring the complicated role of UN Peacekeepers in the murder of nine Croats and Serbs, killed in clear view of the troops in February 1995.

The film opens with a magnificent shot of Major Jorgen Kold driving through the vast, lush valleys of Croatian countryside, seemingly taking the same route as over 20 years ago. Back then, he arrived as a Company Commander of UNPROFOR to maintain a ceasefire, accompanied by 120 young Danish peacekeepers. This juxtaposition of the past and the present is followed throughout the storyline of the film, with the director aiming to tie the characters to their former selves, as participants in the events of the time: viewers are introduced to some of the former soldiers reflecting on their role in Dvor, while the footage from 1995 runs in the background, showing same, though much younger, faces in the war.

The reminiscent nature of the story picks up speed with the introduction of Willy Bogelund, who accompanies Jorgen on his journey. Willy, a war crimes investigator, is still on the quest to solve the crime of the Dvor massacre. Jorgen and Willy, though taking the trip together, thus have vastly differing aims. While Jorgen is chasing ghosts of his past, looking for and offering explanations of his decisions at the time, Willy is on the road to find out who is to blame for the deaths. Putting the two unlikely characters, Jorgen and Willy, “in the same boat”, and letting them delve into what happened while uncovering each other’s perspectives along the way allows a deeper exploration into the questions surrounding the story, the crime, the experiences.

But the story is not only about what took place 20 years ago, or who the guilty ones are. By introducing fascinating characters, the directors open up the wider debate of moral dilemmas: we meet a witness who has the courage to accuse Jorgen Kold for not taking action; a Croatian General Bruno Zavic, very unhappy with Jorgen’s apparent choice of not wearing military uniform; a Serbian General Mile Novkovic, offering his views, throwing out accusations, and moralizing right in his peaceful garden; and, finally, the relatives of one of the victims, quietly accepting what Willy and Jorgen have come to tell them.

This is by far not the first film about the bystander nature of UN peacekeeping missions, and it is likely not to be the last. However, it does bring the moral suffering of the troops to the forefront – in the end, they are the victims too. What is the responsibility of a twenty year old for not picking up a gun, for obeying the orders of authorities? When do the mandates, rules and operational guidelines cease to matter? How to weigh future consequences of your decisions? And, eventually, how to live with what had happened?

Where the past is the present

The consequences of wartime decisions are portrayed in Georg Larsen and Kasper Vedsmand’s 15 minutes: the Dvor Massacre, a film exploring the complicated role of UN Peacekeepers in the murder of nine Croats and Serbs, killed in clear view of the troops in February 1995.

The film opens with a magnificent shot of Major Jorgen Kold driving through the vast, lush valleys of Croatian countryside, seemingly taking the same route as over 20 years ago. Back then, he arrived as a Company Commander of UNPROFOR to maintain a ceasefire, accompanied by 120 young Danish peacekeepers. This juxtaposition of the past and the present is followed throughout the storyline of the film, with the director aiming to tie the characters to their former selves, as participants in the events of the time: viewers are introduced to some of the former soldiers reflecting on their role in Dvor, while the footage from 1995 runs in the background, showing same, though much younger, faces in the war.

The reminiscent nature of the story picks up speed with the introduction of Willy Bogelund, who accompanies Jorgen on his journey. Willy, a war crimes investigator, is still on the quest to solve the crime of the Dvor massacre. Jorgen and Willy, though taking the trip together, thus have vastly differing aims. While Jorgen is chasing ghosts of his past, looking for and offering explanations of his decisions at the time, Willy is on the road to find out who is to blame for the deaths. Putting the two unlikely characters, Jorgen and Willy, “in the same boat”, and letting them delve into what happened while uncovering each other’s perspectives along the way allows a deeper exploration into the questions surrounding the story, the crime, the experiences.

But the story is not only about what took place 20 years ago, or who the guilty ones are. By introducing fascinating characters, the directors open up the wider debate of moral dilemmas: we meet a witness who has the courage to accuse Jorgen Kold for not taking action; a Croatian General Bruno Zavic, very unhappy with Jorgen’s apparent choice of not wearing military uniform; a Serbian General Mile Novkovic, offering his views, throwing out accusations, and moralizing right in his peaceful garden; and, finally, the relatives of one of the victims, quietly accepting what Willy and Jorgen have come to tell them.

This is by far not the first film about the bystander nature of UN peacekeeping missions, and it is likely not to be the last. However, it does bring the moral suffering of the troops to the forefront – in the end, they are the victims too. What is the responsibility of a twenty year old for not picking up a gun, for obeying the orders of authorities? When do the mandates, rules and operational guidelines cease to matter? How to weigh future consequences of your decisions? And, eventually, how to live with what had happened?

Zoeken in Films

ZOEKEN ALGEMEEN

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