Deep scars run through the Balkans. A new generation has to live with these scars. Six youngsters share how they cope. Full of joie the vivre they go on a trip together through their region in a small white van. The wars that raged twenty years ago – when they were born - still block their future. They are used by politicians and the media to continue to create divisions that hold their countries in a deadlock. Forcing youngsters like themselves to leave. Crushing their hopes for a better life near their loved one's and amongst their friends. They are on the verge of departure … and cry out for help. Their stories are heart warming and heartbreaking. Six youngsters may be an insignificant number. But they are adamant : “The majority starts here.”
Two decades after the wars started that disintegrated Yugoslavia, six youngsters from five different former Yugoslav republics and one former autonomous province, together undertake a trip through their now independent countries.
Bardh from Kosovo studied marketing.
Djordje from Montenegro studies architecture.
Magda from Macedonia and Zvonimir from Croatia study literature.
Simona from Serbia studies business organization.
Vanja studied product design.
They all come from ordinary middle class families. They like video games and rock concerts. They like to sleep long and stay out even longer.
They chat continuously – online and off line. They travel with smart phones and laptops … although their families certainly cannot be called rich. They can afford their gear because they combine their studies with part time jobs.
When the wars in their countries started none of them was old enough to have more than some vague – anecdotal – recollections of what happened back then. Vanja remembers receiving an egg for her birthday. Bardh from Kosovo has the clearest memories. But even for him it’s the future that counts.
Or rather : the present … because they all find the future in the Balkans too bleak to really contemplate. They are not ready yet to let go of their hopes – of a life without borders. Without nationalism. Corruption. Dirty politics. Yellow media.
They all know – deep inside themselves – that one day soon they will have to choose between staying in the Balkans or leaving them ! But for now they are postponing the predicament. A big part of what tears them up is that leaving is so egoistic. It means giving up on the societies they grew up in. They are not ready to do that yet even if for their own sake they know they should.
The trip takes the youngsters from Sarajevo to the mountains of Montenegro, via Pristina to Skopje, up to Belgrade, to Osijek, the Croatian island of Hvar, and via Mostar back to Sarajevo.
They share a basement – play paint ball – raft – go carting – visit Vukovar – talk to war veterans – listen to refugees – hear Chetnik songs – laugh at Skopje – discover the clubs of Belgrade – dance – sing – swim – discuss – drink and even cook a complete meal together once !
At the end of the journey none of them wants to leave. They all pledge to meet again soon … but if that doesn’t work out : in another twenty years time certainly !
Where will that be ? Where will they live by then ?
Six youngsters from six different Balkan countries. Astonished at how well they get along together. Surprised by the common ground they quickly find – even if it is partly based on common ignorance.
Are they representative for their generation ? They answer in unison : “The majority starts here !”
Is it a message of hope ? Or a reason for despair ?