See You in the Obituary

See You in the Obituary

"See You in the Obituary" (Serbian: Bидимо се у читуљи, "Vidimo se u čitulji") is a 1995 made-for-TV documentary directed by Janko Baljak based on the book "The Crime That Changed Serbia" by Aleksandar Knežević and Vojislav Tufegdžić. Made in the form of an extended news report with narration by journalist Dina Čolić-Anđelković, the movie presents a snapshot of the chaotic Belgrade underworld in the early 1990s against the backdrop of civil wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The film is composed of fragments from interviews with individuals directly involved with criminal activities either through perpetrating them or through trying to stop them.

The film enjoys absolute cult status, mainly due to its authenticity, the characters interviewed, and the portrayal of a time (early and mid nineties) in Serbia and Belgrade in particular that is considered the worst in history - economically, socially, and every other way.


As the opening credits roll, "See You in the Obituary" begins with shots of infamous Milorad "Legija" Ulemek in Special Operations Unit (JSO) uniform in front of his soldiers though he's not mentioned by name as he was still very much unknown to the general public at that time.


The narrator sets the tone by informing the audience that although not directly and officially involved in the war, Serbia very much feels its effects: country is under the UN trade embargo, inflation rate is sky-high, the streets of Serbian cities are flooded with weapons, the brain drain is in full swing with young professionals leaving to go abroad while many career criminals plying their trade in Western Europe have returned home to take advantage of the chaotic situation.

To further its point, the narration refers to the heinous crime that occurred on December 1, 1993 in New Belgrade. Two returnees from the frontlines, Ilija Vujić and Darko Lončarić, broke into the apartment at Pohorska Street inhabited by Verica Židić and her 13-year-old son Davor. Vujić shot the mother in the liver, a technique he learned in the war that apparently allows the victim to live a little while longer before succumbing, in order to have enough time to question her about her savings they were after. He then proceeded to kill her son as well. Belgrade police inspector Ljuba Milovanović is then interviewed about the gruesome double murder. He says that during questioning, Vujić's coldblooded response to their question why he killed the son was: "Fuck the kid, he was supposed to be in school at that time, anyway". Narrator then informs us that before being apprehended by police, Vujić and Lončarić apparently recounted the detail of their crime in a Belgrade cafe that was full of guests at the time. Nobody called the police. In the end, Vujić received the death penalty. [However, while waiting on the death row, he was pardoned by Serbian president Milan Milutinović because the death penalty had been abolished in Serbia in the meantime. Vujić's punishment was changed to 40 years, which he's been serving since late 1993. [] ]


The movie then shifts to interviews with various Belgrade gangsters. While some of them act through close-knit criminal clans others seem to be freelancers. Many of them have also done work for the State Security.

New Belgrade clans

*Radoslav Trlajić, widely known in the underworld as Bata Trlaja, was 31 years old at the time of his appearance in the movie. Owner of a restaurant and a night club, he talks about a shootout that occurred in his night club during which

War-struck Serbia is a frustrated nation. Young people realise that their future offers them only poverty, uncertainty and fear. As in many cities of ex-Communist countries in which the standard of living falls off rapidly, the young are easily tempted by the money, the glamour and the delights, the things that are offered to one if a member of a gang. In the words of one of the interviewees "Every young man in Serbia dreams of becoming a member of a gang for five minutes in his life." The same person adds that "Mortals (that is, ordinary people) will not experience in their entire life what one of us experiences in one day."

It is a generation that wants it all and it wants it now. Their idols are notorious criminals such as Carlos and Arkan. They acknowledge the fact that criminal activity in Serbia has not reached Western standards because of the lack of "professionalism."

The power of the film is that criminals themselves are talking about crime in Serbia. They explain how things work and assess the positive and negative aspects of the criminal profession in the country. It is an unusual and disquieting opportunity for the viewer to peer into the underworld of the Balkans. The last scenes - the funerals of three of the people who had been interviewed and were killed during the shooting of the film - came to remind us that what we have seen and heard, no matter how unbelievable it may seem, is real. It is a documentary based on an original idea, rarely seen in the past and its immediacy make it compelling viewing.

ee also

*Serbian mafia


* [ "Another Truth: Recent Serbian documentaries at the Raindance Film Festival"] , by Maria Vidali, "Central Europe Review", Vol 1, No 18, 25 October, 1999
* [ "Awards"] from B92.


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