Milosevic on Trial

Directed by Michael Christoffersen

69 minutes / Color
Release: 2008
Copyright: 2007

In February 2002 the biggest war crimes tribunal since the WWII Nuremberg Trials began in the Hague. The defendant, Slobodan Milosevic, former President of Serbia and Yugoslavia, was charged with 66 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for his role in the conflict in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo during the '90s. In March 2006, with only forty hours of hearings remaining, Milosevic died from a heart attack.

MILOSEVIC ON TRIAL records history in the making over the four-year period, during which the former dictator refused to recognize the legality of the International Criminal Tribunal and, despite his poor health, insisted upon conducting his own defense. In addition to highlights from courtroom sessions, culled from over 2,000 hours of footage, the film features interviews with lead prosecutor Geoffrey Nice, Milosevic's legal adviser Dragoslav Ogjanovic, the court-appointed British barristers rejected by Milosevic, and other key players.

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We hear dramatic testimony given during the trial by survivors and eyewitnesses of Serbian Army and paramilitary atrocities, former U.S. government and U.N. officials, and Serbian military and government officials who testify both for the prosecution and the defense. Prosecution evidence includes revealing excerpts from Milosevic's diaries, recordings of intercepted phone conversations, and shockingly graphic amateur videos that document battlefield executions and other atrocities.

MILOSEVIC ON TRIAL also goes behind the scenes to show meetings of lawyers, forensic investigations at massacre sites, press conferences, and concurrent political events in the former Yugoslavia, where support for Milosevic remained strong among Serb nationalists.

Although the International Criminal Tribunal was unable to complete its case against Milosevic, a key accomplice, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who evaded arrest for 13 years, was captured in August 2008 and brought to the Hague. War crimes trials involving leaders from the former Yugoslavia will thus be in the news for years to come.

"Stirring… This superb film is not merely intended to cause one to shake one's head in disgust. Rather, it is a truly thought provoking and wildly informative work… It is rare that a documentary can successfully distill four years of court proceedings into a succinct work as this but MILOSEVIC ON TRIAL does it with aplomb."-Michael J. Coffta, Educational Media Reviews Online

"Provides insight into the banal and extraordinary machinations of the international court system… brings cohesion and understanding to this history-defining trial."—HotDocs International Documentary Film Festival

**** 1/2 "A thought provoking film that gives a voice to the consequence of war, and hopefully to the motivation for peace and understanding in the future."—Kristiana Barber, A 'n' E Vibe

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Select Accolades

  • 2008 Danish Academy Award for Best Documentary
  • 2008 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival
  • 2007 European Broadcasting Union Golden Link Award


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