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Uros Djuric ...
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September 2007 (UK)  »

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The structure is a problem but it is still an interesting story from inside a bigger story
28 November 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In 1989 Slobodan Milošević was selected to become the President of the Republic of Serbia, part of Yugoslavia. With his nationalist politics Milošević was overwhelmingly supported by the electorate but in the city of Belgrade he was less so. A few years later, the declaration of independence of the various parts of Yugoslavia saw war break out and trade-embargoes placed on Serbia. Elections later saw Milošević voted out of office – a result he refused to recognise, bringing hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets. This film looks back at the period with the focus on the staff and influence of student radio station B-92, which found itself one of the voices of opposition.

With all the BBC cuts due to come, the one I fear the most is something that would hit BBC4. The tabloids are full of hand-wringing over these small channels that nobody watches while also bemoaning the BBC for appealing to the masses. I'm not sure how that fits as an argument but I do worry that Storyville will see limitations put on them which would be terrible because it is such a worthy vehicle for documentaries. OK not all are perfect but they are endlessly interesting and even the weakest tend to offer something. This film is not the best example of the stable's output but yet it is still engaging.

The issue I had with it was the structure of the film. The political instability and outbreak of war is a big topic to cover in an hour and to do it via covering the role of a radio station within the whole period is an even bigger challenge. At the start my lack of familiarity with the history made it a difficult ask because my focus was always drawn to the bigger picture rather than this group of individuals. However as I go the wider story in my head and got my memory working, the rest of the film did fall into place – albeit a bit awkwardly. I don't mean to level this as a harsh criticism because I can see the challenge and though it did it pretty well, but I also don't want to ignore the weakness as if it isn't there.

Regardless though, the radio station does provide a way of telling the story through the eyes of the opposition on the streets. At times it focuses too closely on B-92 but mostly it got the mix right. It does help to have a knowledge of the bigger picture before watching the film because it will make it easier to understand the telling but despite this it is still an interesting and engaging film.


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