Seeking Truth in the Balkans Documentary

In the 1990s, the former state of Yugoslavia devolved into chaos as various segments of the country declared independence while the government in Belgrade sought to maintain control of the region. Nationalist politicians inflamed age-old ethnic tensions, resulting in horrific war crimes, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and the worst genocide to occur in Europe since the Holocaust happened in Srebrenica where over 8,000 unarmed men and boys were slaughtered.

Pictures of the memorial for the Srebrenica Genocide and a memorial of a mortar attack during the 4-year siege of Sarajevo.

During the midst of the conflict, the United Nations Security Council did an extraordinary thing by creating the first international criminal tribunal since Nuremberg. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was set up to prosecute genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Picture of the ICTY in The Hague.

Since its creation in 1993, all of the individuals who were indicted have been accounted for. Of the indictees, 74 have been sentenced to a total of 1,081 years, plus 2 life sentences. However, since the Tribunal is located in The Hague, Netherlands, it is far from where the crimes were committed. Evidence has shown that justice being achieved by the ICTY has not contributed as much as was once hoped to peace and reconciliation within the region. The countries that fragmented out of Yugoslavia shared a language and culture, but now, post-conflict, the ethnic tensions are solidifying and different histories of the conflict have emerged. Even the words for "history" are now different in Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo. After studying the conflict and visiting and speaking with many legal experts, scholars, human rights activists, and victims groups, we decided to focus our graduate school thesis project on this issue. We want to explore whether the ICTY has achieved justice after all of these years, whether any prosecutions would have occurred without it, how it has contributed or not contributed to international criminal law generally and peace and reconciliation in the region, and how the ICTY has succeeded and/or failed. We believe that this topic is crucial because it provides many lessons for the International Criminal Court, other ad hoc tribunals that may be created, and domestic courts. Many say that there can be no peace without justice, but perhaps there can be no justice without true peace and reconciliation. Our thesis project will be comprised primarily of a documentary film called "Seeking Truth in the Balkans." We will be interviewing over 100 lawyers, academics, journalists, human rights activists, victims groups, politicians, and many others in New York City, Washington D.C., London, The Hague, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, and Kosovo in an attempt to gather as many recollections and opinions to best determine what is the "truth" of the ICTY's enduring legacy.

Photos from some of our many interviews thus far. Pictured, first ICTY Prosecutor Richard Goldstone and human rights activist Refik Hodzic.

This is an ambitious project and the costs to complete it are substantial. We are seeking funds to permit us to research, travel, interview, film, and edit the end product. These costs include paying for air travel, hotels, a camera, lighting, and sound person, translators, and film editing assistance. While the project is ambitious, we think the timing could not be better since the ICTY's work is winding down and international justice is being sought for atrocities that are ongoing in places like Syria, Sudan, and the Central African Republic. We truly believe that what we uncover and present can help guide those in the area of international justice to better seek and achieve justice, peace, and reconciliation in the aftermath of horrific atrocities. When our thesis project is complete, we intend to expand our short thesis film into a full length feature documentary, along with a mini-series for television. For the post-thesis film, we are working with two renowned filmmakers who have generously given their time to the project because they believe in the importance of the subject and the future of reconciliation and peace in the Balkans. 

We cannot thank you enough for believing in us and this project. Your support is bigger than supporting two graduate students. You are part of seeking the truth about how best to achieve peace, reconciliation, and justice for everyone.

Donations over $20 will receive a postcard containing original artwork for our film "Seeking Truth in the Balkans." Donations over $50 will receive an 8" x 11" poster containing original artwork for our film. Donations over $100 will receive a copy of our thesis documentary on DVD and the DVD cover will also contain original artwork. Every dollar counts. Small donations add up and we appreciate every donation equally.

Our website,, is currently under construction, but please check back in the future for updates and live video stream of some of our interviews. We are also in the process of creating Seeking Truth in the Balkans Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages so that you can follow along with the filming process.

Thank you!!
  • Tracy Stein 
    • $100 
    • 83 mos
  • Cindy Carmichael 
    • $154 
    • 83 mos
  • Robert Johnson 
    • $200 (Offline)
    • 83 mos
  • Carrie Klingman 
    • $25 
    • 83 mos
  • Laurie Babich 
    • $25 
    • 84 mos
See all


June Ellen Vutrano 
New York, NY
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