Sarajevo, Kigali, Beirut, Medellín – four cities that experienced war and conflict for years. But how do cities recover from immense destruction?
The return of peace involves coming to terms with the past and achieving reconciliation between former enemies; a challenge, but as this documentary shows, one that can be met. People taking cover from snipers, bombardment by Serbian artillery – these are images that we associate with Sarajevo. The Bosnian capital underwent the longest siege of the 20th century. For nearly four years, from April 1992 to February 1996, the city was surrounded by Bosnian Serb forces – 11,000 people were killed in Sarajevo alone. Bosnian Muslims and Croats were fighting for the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the rest of Yugoslavia, something the Bosnian Serbs rejected. Sarajevo became a symbol of the Balkan War as a whole. The scars are still visible today, pockmarked facades a common sight. Coexistence between the Bosnian Muslim majority and the Bosnian Croat and Serb communities remains problematic. Most Serbs have left Sarajevo. Today high unemployment, corruption and poverty overshadow the fragile peace. The situation is quite different in the Rwandan capital Kigali. Following the 1994 genocide, the government made efforts to deal with war crimes and achieve reconciliation between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. Today, the small African country is one of the safest on the continent and is thriving economically. Beirut, where civil war raged from 1975 to 1990 between different groups in religiously diverse Lebanon, is now also a thriving city. Largely rebuilt; trade, tourism, finance and nightlife are booming in the city which is considered a major hub in the Middle East. Medellín, once called the most dangerous city in the world, was the scene of a fierce drug cartel war in the 1980s and 1990s. Now it is one of Colombia’s most vibrant urban centers. The documentary captures the spirit of the four cities – and accompanies young, creative residents who are committed to peace, tolerance and reconciliation – every day.
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