Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution 1.5

From the Shadow of History

Produced by Alice Ackermann, directed by Sanjeev Chatterjee, and narrated by Cynthia Caquelin.

Individual: $40.00 + Shipping and Handling; Institutional: $95.00 + S & H. 56 minutes.

From the Shadow of History is a documentary which examines the successful international effort to keep Macedonia's succession from Yugoslavia peaceful. The film won second place at the Silver State Documentary Festival in Nevada and was screened at the Vermont International Documentary Festival and on some PBS stations. It will be aired in the United States on the History Channel in early 1999.

When Macedonia chose to succeed from Yugoslavia in the midst of conflict in the Balkans, it was difficult not to expect the conflict to spill over into the new country; however, it did not. This documentary looks at the various international and domestic efforts which avoided the strife so prevalent to the north.

From the Shadow of History is well made and provides a wealth of background information on Macedonia. It also looks at the specific actions taken by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations, and Search for Common Ground, among others. These sequences highlight the different perspectives of each group and the different loci of action. One of the conclusions which can be reached after viewing From the Shadow of History is that keeping the peace is a job for citizens and governments together and that singular local or international efforts are less likely to be successful.

One of the strengths of From the Shadow of History is in its interview sequences. Interviews were filmed with prominent Macedonian politicians and international peace activists. The interviews are informative and interesting and are incorporated seamlessly within the narrative and footage of the Balkan conflict and Macedonia itself.

Macedonia is an important example of the success possible when a concerted effort is made to avoid damaging conflict. Due to this, From the Shadow of History is a rarity in documentary films about conflict: it has a happy ending. This is a film which should be shown both in classes about international relations and peace and to a public widely disillusioned with international efforts to maintain peace. This documentary stresses that collective action, when taken with forethought and diligence, can be a triumph.

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