This is a story of Yugoslavs who left the country during the war and spent over ten years in Western Europe as refugees or in asylum. In the second half of 2002, the European Union sent many of these people back to Serbia and Montenegro together with their families, believing there was no longer any reason for their stay. Procedures for their return were usually very strict. Families were gathered during the night, transported to the airport, and sent to Belgrade on the first flight. To make things more dramatic, the majority of children born in Western European countries could speak and write the other language better than their mother tongue. As these families often had to sell everything they owned when leaving, they faced a situation back home where normal life was practically impossible.
Kenedi Goes Back Home follows two friends, Kenedi and Denis, as well as the Ibinci family from Kostolac during the first couple days after arriving at Belgrade Airport. We see them trying to find accommodation and searching for friends and other family members. Kenedi goes to Kosovska Mitrovica, where his family used to have a house, to which he now does not have access. The film focuses on the position of the Roma people as the most vulnerable part of the returned population.
The making of this film began with research into the situation of children who were born or grew up in Germany and were now being forcibly deported back to Serbia. Žilnik filmed the kids as they sent regards to their former classmates, and when shown in public discussions and forums, this footage stirred public outrage. Žilnik was contacted by the German authorities and it came to light that the German government had given monetary support for each family to the Serbian government, but it never made its way to the deported families to assist their return. Consequently, Žilnik was not allowed at the airport to film the returnees, and by sending out a casting call for someone who spoke German, Serbian, and Romani, he met Kenedi, who could pretend he was at the airport to wait for relatives.
At the same time, Žilnik was contacted by the German Green Party, which sent five parliament members to Serbia to look into the embezzlement of the support funds for the refugees. When they visited expelled families and saw the dire situations in which they were living, the delegation asked Žilnik if he could put together an eighty-minute film to show at public cinemas in Germany. The Green Party held the opinion that good students and pupils should not be expelled from the country, as Germany needed educated workers. They paid for the production house Terra Film to produce a 35 mm print, and the film went on tour in North Rhine-Westfalia, Hessen, and Berlin. It stirred a lot of debate in the cities where it was screened, and even led to decisions in certain cities to stop the deportation of young people. The film was also shown in regional parliaments and at the European Parliament, as well as discussed at the Azilpolitische Forum Deutschland. The film won awards at film festivals in Herceg Novi and Novi Sad.
Written and directed by: Želimir Žilnik
Camera: Miodrag Milošević
Edited by: Marko Cvejić
Cast: Kenedi Hasani, Denis Ajeti, Dzemsit Buzoli, Sabaheta Alijević, Mevlan Alijević
Production: Terra film & Multiradio, Novi Sad