Ognjen Glavonić: Depth Two

The theme: The Suva Reka massacre during the Kosovo war. 1999. When Nato was bombing Yugoslavia. Kosovo Albanians were killed by Serbian police-officers. Batajnica, at the banks of the Danube, upstream Belgrade Zemun, became the hiding place where the corpses from this mass murder and from other killings, in all secrecy, were transported in refrigeration trucks. It is a well documented historical event, investigated in the courts in den Hague and Belgrade. Many involved in the atrocities have been convicted, many have been acquitted because of lack of evidence! According to one of the voices in the film, many more should be taken to court.

Voices… Serbian Ognjen Glavonić has made this impressive documentary (entitled “Depth Two”, the name given to the mission (they called it “Operation Dubina Dva”) by the Serbian leaders at that time)… through words from the trials in den Hague and from a man, who drove the corpses from Kosovo to Batajnica. Words that tell the story of how the transports took place and from a Suva Reka survivor who details, how her (Berisha) family was shot at close range, including her children. How they were taken into their own pizzeria, where bombs were thrown in. How she survived by playing dead! Words from victims, from perpetrators, from those who did the terrible transportation work.

It is a terrifying story. You are chained to the screen because the director has chosen NOT to show any corpses, NOT to have any interviews or commentary – but to let the viewer watch nature, deserted fields, villages where the sun goes down, all images of today, empty houses, comfortless, trees without leaves as accompaniment to the words. This is where it happened, you think, there was Life here, you make your own horrible visualization from the words and the often very beautiful images. It touches you, also because the rhythm and tone of the film leave space for reflection. It is done in a very decent and respectful way, at the same time as you get the documentation of what actually happened. Slow camera movements brilliantly conveys the non-sensational approach of the director, who ends his film with personal remains of the victims and documents like one signed by the President, “Operation Depth Two” with the addition: “no body, no crime”!

The film was premiered at the Berlinale in the Forum section. The synopsis attached in the catalogue and elsewhere talks about “an experimental thriller”, which is a very very wrong marketing of a film, that combines information with a high artistic competence, from a director who made the right aesthetic choice to tell an untellable story from our time.

Look at the photo of a tree without leaves but with sprouts. Life continues, when will we ever learn…

2016, Serbia, France, 80 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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