Bringing Down A Dictator documents the spectacular defeat of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000—not by force of arms, as many had predicted, but by an ingenious nonviolent strategy of honest elections and massive civil disobedience.
Milosevic was strengthened by patriotic fervor when NATO bombed Yugoslavia in early 1999, but a few months later, a student movement named Otpor! (“Resistance” in Serbian) launched a surprising nonviolent offensive against the regime. Audaciously demanding the removal of Milosevic, they recruited where discontent was strongest, in the Serbian heartland.
Their weapons were rock concerts and ridicule, the internet and email, spray-painted slogans and a willingness to be arrested. Otpor students became the shock troops in an army of human rights, pro-democracy, anti-war, women’s groups, and opposition political parties. Their slogan: “He’s Finished!”
Trained in nonviolent action and partially financed by the US and western Europe, they forged a unified political opposition, fought to stop vote fraud, and systematically undermined police and army loyalty. When Milosevic refused to accept defeat at the polls, the opposition called a general strike. As normal life ground to a halt, Serbs by the hundreds of thousands poured into the capital on October 5 to seize the Federal Parliament in a dramatic triumph for democracy. The one-hour documentary is narrated by Martin Sheen.