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Bringing Down A Dictator (2011)

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In the year 2000, in a war barely noticed outside Yugoslavia, the indicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic fought to hold power. He controlled a battle-hardened army, a tough police force, and most of the news media. But he underestimated his opponents, led by a student movement called Otpor! (‘resistance’), who attacked the regime with ridicule, rock music, and a willingness to be arrested. Their courage and audacity inspired others to overcome their fear and join the fight.

Otpor! students were the shock troops in what became an army of human rights and pro-democracy activists who systematically undermined police and army loyalty to Milosevic and forced him to call early elections. When Milosevic refused to accept his defeat at the polls, the people responded with a general strike. As normal life ground to a halt, Serbs by the hundreds of thousands descended on the capital on October 5 to seize the parliament in a dramatic triumph for democracy. Milosevic was arrested and extradited to the Hague to stand trial for crimes against humanity in June 2001.

This film has been released for free online thanks to the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

For more information about this film:

For more civil resistance resources in English:


Using this Film in the Classroom

Discussion Guide

A 13-page Discussion Guide is available as a free downloadable PDF file.

Designed for use by informal groups as well as in classroom settings, the Discussion Guide contains background information, topics for discussion, activities, research topics, and a list of resources.

Lesson Plans

Two high school level lesson plans are also available for classes in government, political science, history, law and other social sciences:

Lesson I: The Role Images Play

Lesson II: Symbolism and Otpor’s Use of the Clenched Fist

Reviews and Awards

“A priceless history lesson… succeeds most intriguingly as a how-to manual for revolution via civil disobedience. Grade A.”
Entertainment Weekly

“…remarkable and inspiring…. a fascinating window on a revolution that was given limited coverage by America’s 24-hour news services.”
–Kevin McDonough, United Feature

“… a good short primer… as the narrator, Martin Sheen, says in a compelling concluding segment, Otpor’s success suggests that oppressive leaders can best be toppled not by outside military force, but by grassroots movements from within.”
–Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

“… an inspiring story on courage in the face of unspeakable cruelty.”
–The Christian Science Monitor

George Foster Peabody Award
ABCNews VideoSource Award – The International Documentary Association
Silver Chris Award – Columbus International Film and Video Festival
Bronze Plaque: Scriptwriting – Columbus International Film and Video Festival
Silver Plaque – The Chicago International Television Festival
Gold Remi – Worldfest Houston International Film Festival
Best Documentary – Sedona International Film Festival
CINE Golden Eagle
Aurora Award
Telly Award