The IWM Short Film Festival showcases films responding to past and contemporary conflict across 5 days of screenings, featuring animations, dramas and documentaries

Discover more about some of the films shortlisted for the 2018 festival in our interviews with the filmmakers behind them.  

The Butcher of Bosnia is a challenging documentary which offers an insight into the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and one of its most high profile cases, the trial of Ratko Mladić.

It highlights the harrowing stories from those who lost loved ones, the complex legacy of justice and the enduring impact of the conflict.

Filmmaker Maria Polachowska explains the context of the film and how her family’s personal story influenced her work.  


A woman speaks to a soldier in a still from The Butcher of Bosnia by Maria Polachowska
Courtesy Maria Polachowska

"November 2017 General Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serb military chief was found guilty of commanding forces responsible for the worst and most enduring crimes against humanity during the Bosnian War. The detention and murder of Muslims in Omarska, the infamous internment camp at the beginning of the war, the three-year siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern enclave of Srebrenica, which was Europe’s worst mass killing since the Second World War. In our film The Butcher of Bosnia’ survivors, perpetrators and witnesses relate in their own words their traumatic accounts of the atrocities they had lived through.

We selected a range of voices from the young seven year old Mia, badly injured during the first shelling in Sarajevo to the harrowing testimony of Mevludin Oric, a survivor of the Srebrenica massacre in 1995. We had featured some of them in our reports from the Balkan Wars and felt it was vital and just to give them an opportunity twenty years on to reflect on the evidence and testimony they had shared at the War Crimes Tribunal for Yugoslavia in the Hague as the witnesses to history."

A man speaks to camera in a still from  The Butcher of Bosnia by Maria Polachowska
Courtesy Maria Polachowska

In submitting this film to the Imperial War Museum short film festival we hoped that an audience with a special interest in historical film making will have an opportunity to see the film in the context of a living archive of twentieth century history. As a child of Polish immigrants who left Poland because of the second world war, my father a soldier in the 2nd Corps fighting in Tobruk, Monte Cassino and Bologna and my mother a slave labourer in Germany neither ever returned to live in their homeland, I appreciated the need to give voice to those who may not otherwise be heard. The Imperial War Museum has always been central to my work and I have made use of the collections at the museum and attended many of the exhibitions. I value the rich contribution the IWM makes to the historical and culture milieu in the UK."

Visit our film festival page for screening times and the full festival programme.

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Film Screening

IWM Short Film Festival 2018 Screenings

IWM London
25 to 29 October 2018

In Focus...

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In Focus: Burma’s Forgotten Army
Luke Radcliff’s documentary Burma’s Forgotten Army uses archive material and interviews with Burmese soldiers to shed light on the little known but significant contribution of Burmese hill tribes of the Second World War. Here he discusses the challenges of making his film and the incredibly diverse stories he discovered during the process.
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Man stands in a still from Emanuele Bonomi's film Croste di Polenta
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Still from Triptych, a film by Katia Lom
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