Serbian director Lazar Stojanovic dies at 73

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 4, 2017 at 8:53 a.m.

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Lazar Stojanovic, a Serbian film director who was jailed under communism and was an anti-war activist during the 1990s, has died. He was 73.

Stojanovic's family said Saturday that he had died in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. The cause of death and funeral arrangements weren't immediately known.

Stojanovic was known for his liberal democratic ideas both in communist-run Yugoslavia and after the country broke up in a nationalist euphoria that triggered a series of ethnic wars.

Stojanovic's film "Plastic Jesus" was banned in the 1970s because of its criticism of totalitarian regimes. Stojanovic was sentenced to three years in prison, while the film was released in 1990s.

Stojanovic joined Serbia's anti-war movement against strongman Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s. He helped set up the liberal Vreme (Time) weekly, which was an important independent media outlet during the crisis years.

Stojanovic also made documentaries about Bosnian Serb wartime leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, who were tried for genocide by a U.N. court for atrocities against non-Serbs during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

"People who fight for human rights are not politicians. They don't want people to love them," Stojanovic said of his activism in an interview last year for Vreme. "You dig out things people want to hide and they will hate you for it."

"They will call you a traitor, but that is something one must endure," he told Vreme.

Serbia's Liberal Democratic Party leader Cedomir Jovanovic said that "with the departure of Lazar Stojanovic, we all lose."

"He was tireless in trying to point out the greatness of civic freedoms and human rights," Jovanovic said.

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