Miloš Teodorović and Ivana Lalić Majdak: Bringing an untold story

Miloš Teodorović and Ivana Lalić Majdak: Bringing an untold story

First EU Investigative Journalism Award 2015,Serbia

The first EU award for investigative journalism, awarded in Serbia in 2015, was received by Miloš Teodorović and Ivana Lalić Majdak, authors of the documentary film “Witnesses”.  This film deals with the position of the protected witnesses in court proceedings which are initiated due to the crimes committed against Albanian civilian population in Kosovo, showing how the willingness of people from the police, army and paramilitary groups to speak out about the crimes in which they have participated or which they witnessed, was never encouraged, but instead these people were exposed to threats and blackmails.

It is the only story awarded in Serbia, out of total of 18 investigative stories that applied for a competition. President of the jury, Dr. Rade Veljanovski stressed the importance of the winning story, which – as he said – noticeably stood out: “Searching for the truth about the crimes that have occurred, authors managed to get the testimonies of the perpetrators and witnesses of those events. Their statements unambiguously and unreservedly testify about the crimes against the Albanian civilian population, about the misuse of the armed forces for this purpose, but also about the fact that these crimes remain unpunished. Documentary film ’Witnesses’ professionally deals with a very difficult topic, in a manner that satisfies all the criteria of the social relevance, originality, professional experience, integrity and courage”.

A lot of effort went into this film's production. One of the witnesses was hesitating for six months before he decided to present his side of the story. It was even harder to find any source of information from the state institutions – Ministry of Interior claimed that they can not provide adequate interlocutors, and the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor took not less than five months before answering.

For all that, rich journalistic background that Ivana and Miloš have was a key prerequisite for the successful result. They graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, after which they developed their journalistic skills in several prominent print, radio and online media outlets. Curantly, Ivana Lalić Majdak and Miloš Teodorović are the journalists of the Arhitel production, which is primarily dedicated to investigative and analytical journalism. With their previous films, “Heated blood” and “Echo”, Lalić Majdak and Teodorović also won prestigious awards.

“This award is a great recognition“, Ivana Lalić Majdak says, „primarily due to the fact that the film ’Witnesses’ was offered free of charge to the three national TV stations in Serbia and none of them want to broadcast it.” Documentary film “Witnesses” had its premiere on channel B92 Info on 23 October 2014. After being awarded, it was also presented in Novi Sad on 29 October 2015.