The Weight of Chains

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The Weight of Chains
The Weight of Chains.jpg
Official poster
Directed by Boris Malagurski
Produced by Boris Malagurski
Screenplay by Boris Malagurski
Starring Michel Chossudovsky
Lewis MacKenzie
Vlade Divac
John Perkins
Michael Parenti
Scott Taylor
Jože Mencinger
James Bissett
John Bosnitch
Branislav Lečić
Srđa Trifković
Slobodan Samardžić
Music by Novo Sekulović
Jasna Đuran
Kevin Macleod
Edited by Boris Malagurski
Marko Janković
Anastasia Trofimova
Malagurski Cinema
Distributed by Journeyman Pictures (Worldwide)
Release dates
  • December 17, 2010 (2010-12-17) (Australia)
  • February 19, 2011 (2011-02-19) (Canada)
Running time
124 minutes
Country Canada
Language English, Serbian
Budget $21,850

The Weight of Chains is a 2010 Canadian documentary film directed by Boris Malagurski.[1] The film argues that the breakup of Yugoslavia was "orchestrated by Western powers in furtherance of imperial ambitions",[2] according to the filmmaker, it also presents stories of "good people in evil times".[3] It was released on December 17, 2010. Since 2012, the film has been distributed by Journeyman Pictures.[4] The sequel, The Weight of Chains 2, was released on November 20, 2014.[5]


The film was sponsored by Serbian diaspora community organizations, the Centre for Research on Globalization, and private individuals amongst others.[1][6][7]

The film uses re-compiled archival footage extensively,[8] which was provided at no cost by Radio Television Serbia.[9]


The film provides a background history of Yugoslavia, from the medieval Battle of Kosovo to the 1912 incorporation of Kosovo into the Kingdom of Serbia and then to the formation of Josip Broz Tito's Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after World War II. It discusses the persecution of Kosovo Serbs after World War II, as well as alleged plans by Nationalists to create an ethnically pure Greater Albania.

The film claims that U.S. interests in Yugoslavia promoted "a market-oriented Yugoslav economic structure" through the National Endowment for Democracy, and the G17 Plus as part of a policy of "privatization through liquidation" which increased ethnic tensions in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Western nations, both openly diplomatically and covertly militarily, supported separatist groups and encouraged conflict so that NATO could be installed as peacekeepers for their own interests. A cigarette factory that was bombed by NATO was later bought by Philip Morris, which the film presents as an example, that the purpose of the war was economic colonization of the country.

The film claims Yugoslavian leaders such as Slobodan Milošević, Franjo Tuđman and Alija Izetbegović were focused only on power, and not on the well being of their people and they, along with the local media, mobilized public opinion in favor of conflict. These tensions led to the 1990s Yugoslav Wars, which culminated in the Kosovo war.

The film presents the fall of Srebrenica "as a stage-managed ploy by the Bosnians and Americans to justify NATO military intervention against Serbia".[2] Interviewee Srđa Trifković asserts that there are "trustworthy witnesses" who claim that Bill Clinton had indicated that "5,000 dead Muslims would be the price of NATO intervention" and that these witnesses believe that "Srebrenica was deliberately sacrificed by Izetbegović in order to provide this burnt offering to the White House". The film also presents the Srebrenica "civilian death toll as no larger than the number of Serbs killed in the surrounding area".[2]

The film includes interviews with the widows of Josip Reihl-Kir (former police chief of Osijek, Croatia), and the widow of Milan Levar along with the story of Srđan Aleksić, who saved a Muslim man from an attack by soldiers of the VRS. There is footage of a village in Bosnia where Serbs and Bosniaks lived together up to the end of the Bosnian war, but were then separated – as the Muslim Bosniaks, left for their own entity.

In the aftermath, the policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the film claims, further demonstrated that Eastern European states were never meant to be equals with the European Union and the West, but rather were only seen as markets for Western goods and sources of cheap labor. The increase in the debt of the former Yugoslav countries is covered to reveal how much tax money each citizen of the former Yugoslavia would have to pay in order for their countries to be debt free.

Malagurski's address at the Belgrade premiere of the film at the BELDOCS Film Festival at the Kinoteka theater in 2011


The interviewees in the film include:[7][10][11]


The Weight of Chains was screened at the 2011 BELDOCS International Documentary Film Festival 2011, Belgrade, Serbia[19] and, as part of the 2011 Beldocs eho Documentary Film Festival, in Novi Sad,[20][21] Zrenjanin, Kragujevac, Niš, Vršac and Aleksinac,[22] in Serbia. It was also screened in London, England as part of the Balkan Cinema Strand at the Raindance Film Festival 2011,[23] at the 2011 Moving Image Film Festival 2011 in Toronto, Canada,[24] at the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, Cuba, [25] and at the Balkan New Film Festival in Oslo, Norway.[26][27] The film has also had cinema screenings in Australia, Serbia, Canada, and the United States.[28]

The film was also due to be shown in the 2011 programme of Serbian film director Emir Kusturica at the Küstendorf Film and Music Festival. However two days before the festival began, the film was removed from the schedule without explanation.[29]

The film was broadcast in June 2014 on RT[30] and in early 2015 on Eurochannel[31] TV networks.

RTS protest[edit]

In June 2012, a protest in front of the Radio Television Serbia building requested the airing of Malagurski's film The Weight of Chains on Serbia's public broadcaster.[32] In front of 200 protesters, Malagurski said that Aleksandar Tijanić, the director of RTS, had told him that despite positive reviews, The Weight of Chains couldn't be aired on RTS because it had already been aired on Happy TV, Malagurski claimed only clips had been shown, which he said was corroborated by documents from Happy TV.[33] Malagurski also said that "Serbia is the only country in the region and in almost all of Europe, where The Weight of Chains has not been shown by the national public broadcaster".[34]

Critical response[edit]

The film has received mixed responses, these include (ordered by publication date) :-

Toni Ti, writing in Brightest Young Things, a Washington DC and New York based web magazine noted that the film "brings up a lot of issues the public may not be aware of". However she describes the "often-gratingly blatant bias of the film maker". Malagurski, she says "employs a quippy sarcastic tone that sounds incredibly petulant and at times, too amateur for the gravitas subject matter". She goes on, "overall, spending 30 minutes on Kosovo and barely mentioning what really happened in Srebrenica leaves me questioning the director’s choice in taking this approach". Concluding, "what is he trying to show? It can be quite baffling at times".[35]

Vladislav Panov of Pečat, a weekly political magazine in Serbia, wrote that the film is "very convincing" and that "Malagurski covered the facts and scenes in the film just as Michael Moore does in his documentaries. And just like that film maker, obviously Boris' main role model, Malagurski located the source of evil in Washington and big American corporations which had come to buy us out after instructing and preparing 'irrational slaughters of primitive Balkan peoples' ", but added that "Boris bravely detected the main domestic culprits in G17 Plus in skimming the cream on behalf of foreigners".[36]

Historian Predrag J. Marković, in a discussion at Singidunum University, described the film as "very important" and that "the film talks with a language understandable to young Westerners", also "the author, with a fine irony, distances himself in regards to the local figures and presents a very complex problem, evading self-justification that many domestic directors are prone to."[37]

However, Konstantin Kilibarda, of McMaster University, described the film as a "misguided attempt to give an alternative account of the wars in the former Yugoslavia", and that the film maker "attempts to minimize, deflect and distort the well established role of Serbian leaders in the former Yugoslavia in pursuing a militant nationalist program since the late 1980s, that sought to reclaim Kosovo through the imposition of martial law, as well as create 'ethnically compact' territories that would link Serbs in Serbia with Serbian minorities in Bosnia and Croatia".[38]

Tristan Miller, writing in the U.K.'s Socialist Standard, wrote "the film’s flimsier claims and arguments can be explained as the work of a naïve but well-meaning patriot, but others cannot be so innocently excused" … "for all the effort he spends decrying the dishonest propagandising which fuelled the Yugoslavian implosion, he certainly has no qualms employing many of the same tricks when it suits his own agenda". Concluding, "he has a very low estimation of the intelligence of his audience".[2]

Both Miller and Kilibarda were sympathetic to the film's claim that 'Western' economic policies contributed to social instability in the buildup to the Yugoslav Wars.[2] Kilibarda also saying that "Western media often engaged in collective blame of the Serbs" in the mid-1990s.[38]


  1. ^ a b Culture: "Good people in evil times" Politika Newspaper | August 28, 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e Miller, Tristan. (January 2014). "Nationalism and Destruction in the Balkans". Socialist Standard. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Novi dokumentarac srpskog Majkla Mura
  4. ^ Journeyman Pictures : Documentaries Serbia – The Weight of Chains – 124 min 30 sec
  5. ^ The Serbian Film festival at Montecasino
  6. ^ "Weight of Chains – Sponsors". Malagurski Cinema. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Okovi raspada bivše Jugoslavije Vesti, April 1, 2011
  8. ^ "Boris Malagurski među nama". NSPM. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Entangled in Neocolonialism". Interview with Gregory Elich (interviewee in the film). Monthly Review. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  10. ^ New documentary by the Serbian Michael Moore Press
  11. ^ a b c "The Interviewees". Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Epilogue about Srdjan Aleksic". E-novine. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Milošević calls ex-Canadian Ambassador". IWPR. 
  14. ^ "Like the old Yugoslavia it recreates, theme park could go under". Boston Globe. 
  15. ^ "In ex-Yugoslavia, Tito-era nostalgia". NY Times. 
  16. ^ "Popović et al. CIS" (PDF). ICTY. 
  17. ^ "Popovic et al.-"Srebrenica"". SENSE Tribunal. 
  18. ^ "Stakic-"Prijedor"". SENSE Tribunal. 
  19. ^ Težina lanaca: Kritika uloge NATO, EU i SAD i raspadu SFRJ BELDOCS 2011
  20. ^ Festival of documentary film at Novi Sad Cultural Centre
  21. ^ The Weight of Chains in Novi Sad Radio Television Vojvodina
  22. ^ "BELDOCS" on a tour throughout Serbia
  23. ^ [1] Raindance Balkan Cinema Strand 2011
  24. ^ [2] MIFF Schedule, End of World Showcase
  25. ^ "El peso de las cadenas" Festival Internacional Del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano
  26. ^ Balkan New Film Festival 2014
  27. ^ The Weight Of Chains
  28. ^ Weight of Chains Past Screenings
  29. ^ "Okovi raspada bivše Jugoslavije" (in Serbian; "Shackles of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia", by Gorana Gligorević, Vesti Online, 1 April 2011, accessed May 25, 2011
  30. ^ The Weight of Chains on RT
  31. ^ The Weight of Chains on Eurochannel
  32. ^ Protest ispred RTS-a RTS
  33. ^ RTS odbio da prikaže film Težina lanaca Kurir
  34. ^ "Protest ispred zgrade RTS - Internet Archive". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  35. ^ "Weight Of Chains Opens In DC". Tony Ti - Brightest Young Things. May 23, 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  36. ^ Film o demokratskom ropstvu Pecat Magazine online
  37. ^ Gašić, Dimitrije (27 February 2012). "Težina lanaca Screening at FMK". mediacentar fmk singidunum ac rs. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  38. ^ a b "Reviewing The Weight of Chains - Konstantin Kilibarda". Retrieved 3 September 2014. 

External links[edit]