German Bosnia film takes critical view of tribunal

Sat Feb 7, 2009 11:34am EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German-made drama about the inconclusive trial of a fictional Serb war criminal may help keep the judicial spotlight on the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, its director Hans-Christian Schmid said on Saturday.

"Storm," an English-language thriller, features New Zealand's Kerry Fox as a determined prosecutor at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) struggling against time pressure and Serb nationalists.

"There has been enormous time pressure on the judges, prosecutors and defense since the U.N. decided to conclude the tribunals by 2010," Schmid told a news conference after the film's well-received world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

"I would hope that, if nothing else, this film might make a contribution so that they don't have to conclude by 2009 or 2010. In all the interviews we did for it, that was what we kept hearing: no one wants to be under this deadline pressure."

Created in 1993, the ICTY has said it expects to wrap up its cases by the end of 2010 and appeals a year later. The chief prosecutor has said that "work could easily go into 2012."

The drama follows a similar theme to "Grbavica" which won the festival's Golden Bear award for best film in 2006. It is set against a tense backdrop in Bosnia with a suspected Serb war criminal on trial after three years in detention.

"Grbavica" put the spotlight on a hushed-up topic of mass rapes in Bosnia during the siege of Sarajevo, with the story of a Muslim woman who tries to hide the past.

In "Storm," the prosecutor's investigation of rape and murder charges is hindered by a powerful network of nationalist Serbs and then foiled by her own poorly prepared case. But just before it collapses, a witness to the rapes comes forward.   Continued...

<p>Actress Kerry Fox and Director Hans-Christian Schmid attend a news conference to promote the movie 'Storm' at the 59th Berlinale film festival in Berlin, February 7, 2009. REUTERS/Johannes Eisele</p>