History does not forget

Vecernje Novosti daily, Belgrade
October 21, 2004

From our permanent correspondent in Rome

"The powerlessness of the international community, with its 18,000 troops, to protect Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo, and the indifference of the media who dedicate very little coverage to the desecration of these precious medieval treasures has filled us all with pain; consequently, as free citizens, we launched the 'Salva i Monasteri' [Save the Monasteries] of Kosovo campaign," said Italian woman director Elisabetta Valgiusti. As part of this effort she filmed an almost hour long documentary film called "The Enclaves of Kosovo".

Vandal-like destruction

This dramatic film document has entered the spotlight of Italian public attention at this very moment, when the "Salva i Monasteri" movement has reached its pinnacle. It now includes more than one hundred eminent intellectuals - art historians, philosophers, politicians, members of parliament - among its membership, all people whose conscience and intellectual integrity cannot resign itself to unprecedented violence against an artistic heritage of world importance. After being shown in Rome, the filmed testimony of Elisabetta Valgiusti provoked a lively debate regarding the difficult, actually unsustainable, situation in Kosovo and Metohija - not only with respect to the protection of Orthodox churches and monasteries but also the threat to the local Serbs and members of other non-Albanian communities. Seven months after the destructive fury of the Albanian iconoclasts, the situation has not visibly improved.
Through image and narrative the film says that on March 17-18, 2004, the Orthodox Christian monasteries and enclaves of the Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo and Metohija were targets of the most brutal violence and destruction. As a result 35 holy shrines were completely destroyed, among them the pearl of medieval art, the church of the Holy Virgin of Lyevish (Bogorodica Ljeviska) in Prizren, built in 1306. The film adds that "since the war 150 Orthodox buildings of monumental value and thousands of houses have been destroyed, and 250,000 people have left their age-old homes..."

A Christian tragedy

The major locations where filming took place are Visoki Decani Monastery, the Pec Patriarchate, Gracanica Monastery, the ruins of the church of Bogorodica Ljeviska, Mitrovica, Prizren, Pristina, Belgrade and Zlatibor, with video testimony given by Professor Massimo Cacciari, Nebojsa Covic, Father Ksenofont, Emir Kusturica, Mirjana Menkovic, Gustavo Selva, Gojko Subotic, Darko Tanaskovic, Antonio Zanardi Landi and others. The documentary was filmed by Dario Caratti.
According to Darko Tanaskovic, the Serbia and Montenegro ambassador to the Vatican, "The Enclaves of Kosovo" is "the best thing that has been done so far on the tragedy of Kosovo". In a statement for "Vecernje Novosti" this eminent expert in this specialized field emphasized that "Elisabetta Valgiusti's film is exceptionally contemporary, all the more so because it does not view the tragedy of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija as an isolated occurrence but considers this theme within a broader framework, viewing it from the perspective of a Christian tragedy". Tanaskovic therefore believes that it is necessary to do everything possible so that the film can be distributed to a broad network of countries in Europe and the U.S.
Director Elisabetta Valgiusti expressed the desire to take this opportunity to thank what she described as each and every individual member of her multiethnic team. She also expressed her thanks to several experts in Byzantine iconography, iconographers, art historians and university professors, including John Lindsey Opie, Valentino Pace, Maria Giovanna Mucci, Don Sergio Marcacci, Marcio Loligetti, and Rosa D’Amico; the chairman of the Italian parliamentary Commission for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gustavo Selva; and Ms. Gordana Dobricki, whom she described as "the soul of the organization and the establishment of contacts".
Copyright 2004, ERP KIM Info-Service

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