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Angelina Jolie moves forward in Bosnia

October 18, 2010 |  3:30 pm

Angelina Jolie has apparently gained formal permission to shoot her controversial Balkans war movie in Bosnia, even as one activist says she remains angry about the decision.

Edin Sarkic, a producer at the Sarajevo-based company Scout Film, told Reuters that a Bosnian government minister has now reviewed the script and granted permission for the actress to shoot her directorial debut in the country. The movie is expected to begin filming there in the coming weeks, after Jolie and her cast of local actors first shoot in Budapest, Hungary, where they are currently in production. Sarkic was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

But Bakira Hasecic, a rape victim and president of the Women Victims of War Assn. in Sarajevo, said that she is still upset and bewildered about the process. She has objected to the film because of reports that the movie contains a romance between a Serb rapist and his Bosnian Muslim victim -- a plot point that Jolie and her representatives have denied. The status of the film permit was thrown into question last week after Hasecic's group raised questions with government officials.

"We couldn't influence the decision and we could not issue any ban," Hasecic said Monday. "But after we had filed a legal complaint we have become a party in the legal procedures regarding this permit," adding "the ministry is now obliged to send to us, formally, officially, their decision." Hasecic says she has yet to receive that, and will decide her next step when she does.

There is still little clarity about the script and the way it characterizes the movie's central romance. Hasecic said she has asked to speak to Jolie and Sarkic but has not heard from them.

"We don't mind that [Jolie] has been bringing back the worst memories, that she is sending us back to the worst moments of our lives," she said. "[But] those of us who were raped lived through [it], and we know what is not true. This story, that a raped woman falls in love with a rapist [could not be] true." Hasecic added, "We went through a lot, and we don't need to go through this now."

In an interview published Monday, Jolie told USA Today that the relationship begins "before the war," saying it's a "normal relationship in that way, how it begins."

Bosnian media say filming on locations in the country should start in mid-November in the capital, Sarajevo, and the small town of Vares. According to one report, among the locations in Sarajevo is the Jewish Cemetery near the city center that was controlled by a notorious unit of Serb soldiers during the war, which went on from 1992 to 1995. The cemetery, which has a stone chapel and one of the best panoramic views of the city, allowed gunmen to snipe the main streets of central Sarajevo. 

The main characters in the film are Lejla, a young Bosnian Muslim woman, and Danijel, a young Serb man. Lejla is played by Zana Marjanovic, an actress from Sarajevo. Rade Serbedzija (who has been in a number of Hollywood productions including "Mission: Impossible II" and "Space Cowboys" and will appear in the final two "Harry Potter" films) is also in the movie. In an interview with the Belgrade newspaper Blic, a liberal, pro-Western tabloid, Serbedzija said he plays the father of the main character.

"He is a very good character. He is a nationalist, true nationalist, but he is not a bad guy," Serbedzija said. "The story about him is very complex."

-- Zoran Cirjakovic and Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Angelina Jolie. Credit: Getty Images


Angelina Jolie's directorial debut met with protests in Bosnia