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The Weight of Chains

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The Weight of Chains
Official poster
Directed byBoris Malagurski
Screenplay byBoris Malagurski
Produced byBoris Malagurski
StarringMichel Chossudovsky
Lewis MacKenzie
Vlade Divac
John Perkins
Michael Parenti
Scott Taylor
Jože Mencinger
James Bissett
John Bosnitch
Branislav Lečić
Srđa Trifković
Slobodan Samardžić
Edited byBoris Malagurski
Marko Janković
Anastasia Trofimova
Music byNovo Sekulović
Jasna Đuran
Kevin Macleod
Distributed byJourneyman Pictures (Worldwide)
Release dates
  • December 17, 2010 (2010-12-17) (Australia)
  • February 19, 2011 (2011-02-19) (Canada)
Running time
124 minutes
LanguagesEnglish, Serbian

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.

The sequel, The Weight of Chains 2, was released on November 20, 2014,[4] while the last part of the trilogy, The Weight of Chains 3, was released on September 28, 2019.[citation needed]


The film was sponsored by Serbian diaspora community organizations, the Centre for Research on Globalization, and private individuals amongst others.[1][5][6]

The film uses re-compiled archival footage extensively,[7] which was provided at no cost by Radio Television Serbia.[8]


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" that 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 widow 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 the village Vrhbarje 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.

The film argues that, in the aftermath of the war, the policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank further demonstrated that Eastern European states were not 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 film portrays an increase in the debt of the former Yugoslav countries by showing 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:[6][9][10]


The Weight of Chains was screened at the 2011 BELDOCS International Documentary Film Festival 2011, Belgrade, Serbia[17] and, as part of the 2011 Beldocs eho Documentary Film Festival, in Novi Sad,[18][19] Zrenjanin, Kragujevac, Niš, Vršac and Aleksinac,[20] in Serbia. It was also screened in London, England as part of the Balkan Cinema Strand at the Raindance Film Festival 2011,[21] at the 2011 Moving Image Film Festival 2011 in Toronto, Canada,[22] at the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, Cuba,[23] and at the Balkan New Film Festival in Oslo, Norway.[24][25] The film has also had cinema screenings in Australia, Serbia, Canada, and the United States.[26]

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.[27]

The film was broadcast in early 2015 on Eurochannel[28] TV networks.

RTS protest[edit]

In June 2012, a protest in front of the Radio Television Serbia building requested the airing The Weight of Chains on Serbia's public broadcaster.[29] 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.[30] 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".[31]

Critical response[edit]

The film has received mixed responses,[according to whom?] 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".[32]

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".[33]

Konstantin Kilibarda, writing for the blog Politics, Respun, 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".[34]

Historian Predrag Marković, in a discussion at Singidunum University, said that the film talks with a language understandable to young Westerners, and that "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."[35]

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 stated that "Western media often engaged in collective blame of the Serbs" in the mid-1990s.[34]

Lukáš Perný, writing in the Slovak Zem a Vek magazine, noted that the film presents information that helps the viewer to understand the interests behind the "colonization" of Yugoslavia.[36]

Serbian film critic Vladan Petković described the film as "pro-Serbian conspiracy theorist propaganda". According to Petković, "the film is promoted as having been made in Michael Moore's style, but it totally lacks Moore’s characteristic qualities. Instead Malagurski interviews journalists, politicians, ex-ambassadors and historians, who all promote the same one-sided story of Serbia as a victim of Western capitalist imperialism".[37]

Amir Telibećirović of Tačno.net, in his review of the film, described it as: "new model of indoctrination based on the philosophy of Slobodan Milošević and the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, through beautified propaganda, lies and manipulation.[38]


  1. ^ a b Culture: "Good people in evil times" Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine Politika Newspaper | August 28, 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e Miller, Tristan. (January 2014). "Nationalism and Destruction in the Balkans". Socialist Standard. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  3. ^ Novi dokumentarac srpskog Majkla Mura Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine PressOnline.rs
  4. ^ "The Serbian Film festival at Montecasino". Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  5. ^ "Weight of Chains – Sponsors". Malagurski Cinema. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Okovi raspada bivše Jugoslavije Archived November 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Vesti, April 1, 2011
  7. ^ "Boris Malagurski među nama". NSPM. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  8. ^ "Entangled in Neocolonialism". Interview with Gregory Elich (interviewee in the film). Monthly Review. Archived from the original on September 16, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  9. ^ New documentary by the Serbian Michael Moore Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Press
  10. ^ a b c "The Interviewees". Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
  11. ^ "Epilogue about Srdjan Aleksic". E-novine. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  12. ^ "Milošević calls ex-Canadian Ambassador". IWPR. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  13. ^ "Like the old Yugoslavia it recreates, theme park could go under". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  14. ^ "Popović et al. CIS" (PDF). ICTY. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 31, 2020. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  15. ^ "Popovic et al.-"Srebrenica"". SENSE Tribunal. Archived from the original on August 26, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  16. ^ "Stakic-"Prijedor"". SENSE Tribunal. Archived from the original on August 26, 2014.
  17. ^ Težina lanaca: Kritika uloge NATO, EU i SAD i raspadu SFRJ BELDOCS 2011
  18. ^ Festival of documentary film at Novi Sad Cultural Centre Archived November 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine 021.rs
  19. ^ The Weight of Chains in Novi Sad Archived November 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Radio Television Vojvodina
  20. ^ "BELDOCS" on a tour throughout Serbia B92.net
  21. ^ [1] Archived August 19, 2014, at archive.today Raindance Balkan Cinema Strand 2011
  22. ^ [2] MIFF Schedule, End of World Showcase
  23. ^ "El peso de las cadenas" Archived April 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Festival Internacional Del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano
  24. ^ Balkan New Film Festival Archived February 4, 2015, at the Wayback Machine 2014
  25. ^ The Weight Of Chains Archived April 3, 2015, at the Wayback Machine CinemaTeket.no
  26. ^ Weight of Chains Past Screenings Archived December 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine WeightOfChains.ca
  27. ^ "Okovi raspada bivše Jugoslavije" (in Serbian; "Shackles of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia", by Gorana Gligorević, Vesti Online, 1 April 2011 Archived November 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, accessed May 25, 2011
  28. ^ The Weight of Chains Archived February 14, 2015, at the Wayback Machine on Eurochannel
  29. ^ Protest ispred RTS-a Archived October 17, 2014, at the Wayback Machine RTS
  30. ^ RTS odbio da prikaže film Težina lanaca Archived October 18, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Kurir
  31. ^ "Protest ispred zgrade RTS - Internet Archive". pravda.rs. Archived from the original on July 27, 2012. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  32. ^ "Weight Of Chains Opens In DC". Tony Ti - Brightest Young Things. May 23, 2011. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  33. ^ Film o demokratskom ropstvu Archived September 16, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Pecat Magazine online
  34. ^ a b "Reviewing The Weight of Chains - Konstantin Kilibarda". Archived from the original on September 22, 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  35. ^ Gašić, Dimitrije (February 27, 2012). "Težina lanaca Screening at FMK". mediacentar fmk singidunum ac rs. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  36. ^ Perný, Lukáš (March 25, 2016). "In Serbia, thousands of people protest in the streets against NATO". Zem a Vek. Archived from the original on May 13, 2017. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  37. ^ Gjerstad, Nils (May 20, 2011). "Med skulderen til veggen". Ny Tid. pp. 48–49.
  38. ^ "Simpatični fašizam i duhovite laži Borisa Malagurskog | Tacno.net". www.tacno.net (in Croatian). August 30, 2017. Archived from the original on April 23, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.

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