Critics published outrageous criticisms of the film, Dara of Jasenovac, directed by Predrag ‘Gaga’ Antonijević, which portrays the experience of Serb, Jewish, Roma prisoners in the Jasenovac concentration camp complex during World War II.. Several characterized the motivation behind the making of the film as simply Serbian “nationalistic propaganda” and chiding Serbs for claiming victimhood spanning centuries. Jay Weissberg, ‘Dara of Jasenovac’ Review: A Holocaust Movie With Questionable Intentions
The first film to break the silence regarding Serbian victimization in the Holocaust after waiting 80 years is a candidate for an Academy Award. Never before has our story been exposed to the world in a manner befitting its gravity.
The Invaluable Backing of Michael Berenbaum
The truth about the making of the film is that inspiration was largely provided by a collaboration of Director Antonijević and Michael Berenbaum, who is a leading Holocaust historian. He believes that our story is innately a part of the holocaust. Ninety percent of the people exterminated in Fascist Croatia were ethnic Serbs. Our bones lie inextricably tangled with Jewish and Roma bones in many mass graves and pits, and to marginalize and dismiss that fact has been grievously hurtful to our people for many decades. That omission has also been a political football many have used to advance agendas that, among other things, led to the destruction of the sovereign nation of Yugoslavia, pursuing the ambition of superpowers eager to install a western military base in a pivotally strategic location connecting Europe to the Middle East.
Michael Berenbaum is likely the world’s leading expert on the Holocaust. To have his support is HUGE. It is him narrating the “Featurette” trailer above, third trailer on the left.
The Jasenovac Research Institute will do what it can to promote the distribution of Dara of Jasenovac. it was directed by Predrag ‘Gaga’ Antonijević, which portrays the experience of Serb, Jewish, Roma prisoners in the Jasenovac concentration camp complex during World War II.
Jasenovac was the largest concentration camp in the Nazi-allied so-called Independent State of Croatia, under the fascist Ustaše regime. The regime’s fanatical clerical-fascist ideology was focused intently on the systematic extermination of all non-Croat peoples and of Croatian political dissidents. In many cases, young Serbian children were adopted into Croatian homes, and their ethnicity was erased. Jasenovac is noted for its extreme brutalization of prisoners.
Yet, Jasenovac remains little known outside of the Balkans. Dara of Jasenovac follows the 2019 release of the Croatian film, ‘The Diary of Diana B’ (Title in Croatia: Dnevnik Diane Budisavljević), which covers the same subject. It is our hope that these two films will lead to a broader global awareness of the tragic events that took place at Jasenovac.
Dara of Jasenovac was fortunate in having prominent Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum serve as the film’s executive producer. In discussion with JRI board members, Mr. Berenbaum informed us that every incident in the movie was based on documented historical events. As brutal as some scenes are, the filmmaker chose to tone down some of them. The victims in the musical chairs episode, for example, are portrayed by adults in the movie, whereas the historical case involved children.
The film’s message is an important one in this time of growing intolerance and ethnocentrism. “I hope people come out understanding a little bit about Jasenovac, and also understanding the ultimate victim,” Berenbaum has been quoted as saying. “When you see Dara, hopefully you’ll come away horrified by the magnitude of evil, and committed to a little bit more human decency and dignity.”
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