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Perpetrator Studies Network


A Good Wife – Screening and Talk

Mirjana Karanovic, Servië, Bosnië-Herzegovina, Kroatië

A Good Wife (2017) is a story about Milena (50) a woman who, at first glance, is living a suburban dream. She has a husband, Vlada, who is a successful property developer. He doesn’t beat her, he doesn’t have affairs (at least the ones that she knows of) and he provides her a comfortable life by standards of modern Serbia. They don’t talk much, though, didn’t have passionate sex for a long time, but Milena doesn’t care – they have a nice house, two cars and two beautiful children – Katarina and Miloš. She’s got her garden to care for, and ceramic figurines she makes in the attic.

Milena’s awakening begins with a routine checkup, when her doctor suspects cancer and tells her that she needs to do a mammography test in Belgrade. She’s upset and ignores the advice, returning to her small town, trying to do the same thing she usually does with unpleasant things – she tries to “hide them in a closet” by beginning an almost hysterical spring cleaning. During the cleaning, she discovers a chest with Vlada’s things from the war and a VHS tape with footage of Vlada’s task force killing civilians during the war. She recognizes Vlada as well as some of their neighbours on the recording. From this point on, we follow the five stages of Milena’s struggle to face this fact, and her efforts to preserve the only thing she has in life -her family. Her estranged older daughter Nataša helps her in this process. Nataša left home because of a political dispute with her father, she lives alone in Belgrade and works with an NGO dealing with human rights. We see Milena as she starts to look with different eyes at her family, at her children and at the neighbours around her that were keeping this terrible secret.

The film will be followed by a talk with Iva Vukusic, a PhD student and researcher at the department of history at the University of Utrecht. The past twelve years she has worked on war crime processes at the State Court of Sarajevo and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The HagueThis talk is organised by Amnesty International The Hague.