Angelina Jolie's Bosnian partners aim to soothe emotions before cameras roll
Angelina Jolie’s Balkans war movie is on track again with government approval to film in Bosnia, but her local producer is still trying to soothe emotions (and perhaps stave off protests) before the Hollywood star starts shooting there in a few weeks.
Edin Sarkic of Scout Film, who’s serving as executive producer and location manager for the Bosnian part of the as-yet-untitled film, said Tuesday that Jolie (who is writing and directing the movie but isn't starring in it) plans to meet with Bosnian rape victims who have voiced protests. The women were upset by reports that the movie revolves around a Bosnian Muslim woman being raped by, and then falling in love with, a Serb soldier during the 1992-95 war. Their protests prompted the government to suspend approval for filming last week until Sarkic submitted a full script for review.
Jolie, who is currently filming in Budapest, Hungary, wants to communicate to the Bosnian women that she is sensitive to their concerns.
“Angelina will come to Sarajevo and she will talk to the women. She will explain everything to them and they will understand that they have nothing to worry about,” Sarkic said. “She is a goodwill ambassador. She loves this country.”
Sarkic said Jolie “would come today if she could.... But the woman is directing the movie. She cannot abandon the set in Budapest and come here. But as soon as she can, she will come here to talk to the women.” (Jolie's partner, Brad Pitt, was spotted on the set over the weekend.)
Sarkic said that Jolie’s film was being subjected to intense scrutiny and that it was highly unusual to be asked to submit a full script for review. “At no other place in the world they would ask for the script. One is required to give a synopsis, not a script,” he said. “The script is a work in progress. One can change it during the filming, one can change it during the editing. By the premiere, a script can be changed 13,000 times. But they wanted the script and we gave them the script.”
Asked if he expects protests or other problems once filming begins in Bosnia, Sarkic sidestepped the question, saying only: "We love Angelina. We cannot wait to see her in Sarajevo."
The controversy over the film has yet to fade from the headlines in Bosnia. But local newspapers this week published some accounts of the script that seemed likely to lessen the outrage of Bosnian Muslims.
[Spoiler alert: the movie's ending is revealed on the next page.]
On Monday Dnevni Avaz, the largest Bosnian daily, ran an article under the headline: "We disclose: The rapist kills the [Bosnian Muslim] woman at the end of Angelina's film and admits that he is war criminal."
The article quoted an unnamed source "who had the opportunity to read the whole script" and who "stressed that Jolie portrayed the army that carried out aggression on Bosnia in an exceptionally authentic way.”
The paper also said that Fedja Stukan, a Bosnian actor who is in the film, confirmed "that according to the script, the Serb man kills the Bosniak women at the end." (Bosniak refers to Bosnian Muslims.) It quoted him as saying "I don't know what the problem is if a Serb kills a Bosniak. That is what everybody wants to see."
While that may sound odd, in the complex environment of postwar Bosnia, that is actually what Bosnian Muslims want to see.
Bosnia remains deeply divided along ethnic lines and the divisions have been most apparent in the perceptions of the war and its causes. Bosnian Muslims see the conflict as a war of Serbian aggression; Serbs view it as a civil war. If Serbs are portrayed as aggressors or war criminals in the film, Bosnian Muslims will likely see it as in harmony with their view of the conflict.
-- Zoran Cirjakovic
Photos, from top: Angelina Jolie signs an autograph in Budapest last week; Brad Pitt, in sunglasses, is seen among members of the crew on the scene of Angelina Jolie's film in Budapest on Sunday. Credit: Bea Kallos/Associated Press