We all watched it happen on television: 1 million refugees displaced from their homes; 78 days of NATO bombing over Belgrade and Pristina; the destruction of whole villages and innocent lives. In the spring of 1999, Kosovo had become the battlefront for the Balkan’s latest war.
In the immediate aftermath of the war, some historians labeled the ethnic cleansing of Serbs and Albanians during the conflict as one the worst political crime in Europe since World War II. As virtual a war as there had been to date, the images were horrifying and indelible, but who can be blamed for not feeling any lingering attachment to a war that had few perceivable consequences for North Americans? No more than a few months later, our journalists had turned their attention to capturing new human disasters for our daily news programs while the job of rebuilding and finding justice for thousands of displaced souls transitioned to the United Nations, NATO, OSCE and several dozen NGOs. The real “story” was just about to begin.
After several years of UN administered governance, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia’s borders on February 17th, 2008. For the ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo, this resolution connotes the realization of a dream thought to be impossible for a century: their complete sovereignty from Serbia. Conversely for the thousands of Serbs residing both within and outside Kosovo, their homeland’s succession from Serbia’s borders represents the very loss of their most hallowed cultural, religious and historical territory. Contrary to reports, Kosovo is as fractured and segmented as it was before the bombs fell from the sky.
Two Summers in Kosovo is about what it means to live in a perpetual frozen conflict, a purgatory forgotten by the rest of the world.
The film documents the lives of Kosovo Serbs and Albanians six months before and six months after the declaration of independence. In 2007, the film introduces six Kosovo Albanians and five Kosovo Serbs. Through the lives of these 11 subjects, Two Summers in Kosovo explores Kosovo's segregated education system and entrenched political corruption, its refugee centers and ethnic enclaves, and finally, the folly of the International Community’s “nation-building” regime.
The second part of the film takes place in the summer of 2008, where we rejoin our subjects six months after Kosovo's Albanians unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. Through the fog of transition, the film's characters emerge, deeply shaken by the terror of their actuality. Their plights have worsened. Too little has changed, few too many promises have been delivered. Now each character, regardless of their ethnicity, is faced with a dire question: can they survive in Kosovo without hope?