For Westerners who have only experienced war through news reports and films, Kosovo can be an alluring topic of interest. However, beyond certain imaginary constructions, Kosovo is a region that deserves attention for its people; a people who have experienced war in all of its worse machinations and who must cope with its legacies every day.
For our own part, our interest in Kosovo began romantically. We were teenagers when the war began, and the indelible exploits of Canadian peacekeepers in Croatia and Bosnia as captured on the nightly news in the 90s filled our heads with visions of a world where humanitarian intervention worked. However, our nation’s military legacy changed in 1999 as Canada joined its NATO allies in the Kosovo bombing campaign. The concept of our nation going to war, for the first time since Korea, was unheard of for teenagers brought up to think of our soldiers as peacekeepers. Looking back, the conflict represents a palpable paradigm shift in Canada’s military identity at home and abroad. Peacekeeping often requires soldiers with guns, but after genocides like Rwanda and Srebrenica were allowed to happen, had we been too late and done too little?
The nightly news programs made sure that we were captivated for the three months while the Kosovo war was a worthwhile story. Somewhat telling was how Western cameras disappeared as the bombing ended and the Yugoslavian army retreated from Kosovo. Unfortunately, we were left with only half the story once the media packed up; that and a desire to know what was going to happen to the millions of political deportees once they returned to their burned homes and villages.
This film was born out of the subconscious void created by the absence of media coverage in the years following the 1999 armed conflict. As young teenagers, our initial interest was concerned with Canada’s peacekeeping involvement. Over time, it has grown into a curiosity far more important and greater than just military actions. It is one that concerns how Kosovar Albanians and Serbs have lived and endured since being dumped onto the brink of poverty and stability.
We write this from Pristhtina, attempting to take in all that we are experiencing and truly appreciating the opportunity to finally be here. Above all, we hope that we can do justice to representing the remarkable people on film that have pardoned our intrusion into their lives and shared their memories and histories with us.