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Yugoslavia: The Avoidable War (1999)

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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 190 users   Metascore: 55/100
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A clear and critical look at Western intervention in the Balkans leading to the civil wars in Yugoslavia during the 1990s.


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Title: Yugoslavia: The Avoidable War (1999)

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Cast overview:
Sanya Popovic ...


A clear and critical look at Western intervention in the Balkans leading to the civil wars in Yugoslavia during the 1990s.

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yugoslavia | narration


Documentary | War






Release Date:

18 September 1999 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean you aren't right
1 January 2011 | by (Serbia) – See all my reviews

I'll admit I came into this movie with a pretty bad attitude. Many reviewers labeled it as Serb propaganda, and knowing how awful we are at it (noted by the filmmakers themselves :-)), I was expecting a lot of nationalistic chest-beating and bitter anti-west propaganda.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. The movie was most harshly critical of foreign powers (US and Germany), while treating the sides directly involved for what they truly were - bumbling idiots, too blinded by dreams of nationalistic fairylands to see they are being led around by higher interests.

Factually, the documentary seems pretty solid. Statistical facts came from reputable sources (Hague, Red Cross, etc...). Testimonies were represented by people involved in the conflict, but not directly affiliated with any side (British, Americans etc). The director's surname sounds vaguely Serbian, but it could have easily been Bosnian or Croat. Either way, most of the facts are presented by talking heads and hard data, so the only way he could have influenced the message was through choice of themes and editing.

And... that he did. I agree with detractors that the bias of presented data is heavily pro Serbian. On the other hand, this documentary was clearly intended as a response to what the author sees as heavy anti- Serb bias of the official reports. It never tries to deny Serb war crimes, including Srebrenica, it just doesn't dwell on them. The author simply assumes the viewer is already familiar with the anti-Serb stuff and is instead interested in hearing the opposing point of view.

There were, however, a few WTF moments. Like the time they (desperately) tried to tie Osama Bin Laden with Bosnian Muslims. Nonsense. Sure, there's a recent upsurge of fundamentalism, but in general, Bosnians (and Albanians) are (or were) pretty mellow Muslims. Foreigners never understand that religion around here is tied more closely to national identity than any holy book or a fundamentalist cause.

Oh, and the ethnic cleansing of Albanians in 1999 was handled a bit too lightly. A few drunken idiots shooting up houses wouldn't have sent hundreds of thousands of Albanians fleeing out of Kosovo. The documentary doesn't exactly say, but it does heavily imply that there wasn't official ethnic cleansing policy during the bombing, which IMO is wrong.

Other than, the film is a pretty solid presentation of the 'other side' and, in my admittedly biased opinion, a much closer stab at the truth then the official version. If you're somewhat familiar with the Balkan situation, this documentary is pretty good food for thought. If not, you should probably try familiarizing yourself with the party-line first, as this film presents only the other side of the story. And it does it good.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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