Carla’s List

Marcel Schüpbach

Switzerland, 2006, 95 min.

“Carla” is prosecutor Carla del Ponte. And the film is basically about her efforts to get these fugitive war-criminals arrested and brought before the court.

The ICTY is an independent organisation established by the UN Security Council in 1993, and Carla del Ponte has been its prosecutor since 1999. The film follows her for five months, July–December 2005. In that period her main concern is to put some of the key persons still at large behind bars, especially Govina (Croatia) and Mladic and Karadzic (Serbia).

The film is structured like a crime story and is really exciting from beginning to end. The three main ‘characters’ are presented in the intro: the victims (relatives of those who have been killed), the bandits (fugitive war criminals) and the investigator (Carla del Ponte and her team). The intro also presents the premise: the ICTY has a deadline to meet. It must capture and try the “bandits” by 2010 so it needs to bring them in years before then. The ICTY is working against time and has to constantly produce results to demonstrate its capability.

A voice-over provides basic information and maintains the suspense. Apart from that, the film follows Carla and some key staff members in their office as they lay down strategies and meet with politicians and secret service agents on their travels in Croatia and Serbia to apply maximum pressure on them to arrest those indicted who are still at large. They also meet with politicians from the EU, the UN and the US to urge the international community to put pressure on the states in question. The film provides an interesting insight into the workings of international diplomacy, and the camera is present at many important meetings. It doesn’t go into confidential meetings but it is present when Carla briefs her staff afterwards, so it gets as close as possible. And in interviews with Carla she is fairly direct in not concealing her frustrations with different instances.

The former president of the ICTY Antonio Cassese said “Justice is an indispensable ingredient of the process of national reconciliation.” To remind us of the ICTY’s importance, the film includes interviews with the victims, those whose husbands or sons were killed, most of them in the Srebrenica massacre. To the survivors, the ICTY represents hope for justice. And Carla keeps repeating that she does it for them and, although constantly encountering difficulties, she never gives up.


Modern Times Review