Angelina Jolie's Bosnian War Movie Gets Green Light

Bosnia expected to issue permit despite film's controversial subject matter.

October 17, 2010, 1:51 PM

BELGRADE, Serbia, Oct. 17, 2010— -- A Bosnian "Romeo and Juliette," war, romance, trouble -- Angelina Jolie's directorial debut movie, which had seemed to be in political trouble, is expected to get a new permit to film in Bosnia after officials revoked the initial one over concerns about the script, a local producer told today.

"We were promised by the Ministry of Culture that the permit will be issued on Monday. It was supposed to be done on Friday, but now it is sure to happen on Monday," Edin Sarkic, director of Scout, the Bosnian production house working on the movie said.

Jolie is expected to arrive in Bosnia in late November to begin filming the movie, Sarkic said.

The movie currently only has the working title, "Untitled Love Story," Scout production unit manager Ensar Halilovic said.

Although no celebrity has done more to to try to soothe the wounds in the Balkans, Angelina Jolie found herself in the difficult position of reopening those wounds with her new project, which is set against the backdrop of Bosnian war.

Jolie is writing, directing and producing the film, which features a local cast but not the actress herself. The movie has begun shooting in Hungary and is set to move its cameras to Sarajevo and outskirts of Zenica in November.

But after word began to circulate that the film would depict not only the rape of a Bosnian Muslim woman by a Serb but also a romance between the two, a backlash erupted.

Bakira Hasecic, a rape victim and president of the Women Victims of War Association in Sarajevo, lodged a protest with the minister of culture, objecting to the romantic plotline.

The ministry then realized that it had not gotten a copy of the movie script, as is required by Bosnian law, but only a synopsis of the plot, and it revoked the shooting permit. It is currently examining whether Jolie's production will be allowed to shoot in Bosnia.

Hasecic acknowledged that she has read only a five-or-six-sentence description of the plot, which she received from the minister of culture for the Muslim Croat Federation of Bosnia, but that was enough to prompt her outrage.

"I only know that the synopsis says that the love was born between the Serb commander of the camp and a Bosnian Muslim woman," Hasecic told ABCNews. "If this is really what the script says, then this cannot not be true, even in a fiction movie."

Hasecic added that her group wanted to meet with Jolie but had no feedback.

Jolie has so far resisted giving specifics about the movie's plot, but said she was aware of the still-raw emotions.

"Obviously any dramatic interpretation will always fail those who have had a real experience. This is not a documentary," she said in a statement. "There are many twists in the plot that address the sensitive nature of the relationship between the main characters and that will be revealed once the film is released. My hope is that people will hold judgment until they have seen the film."

Other A-list celebrities who have worked in Bosnia on films about the war include Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei, who starred in "Welcome to Sarajevo," and Richard Gere and Terence Howard in "The Hunting Party."

Jolie has a high profile position in the Balkans, serving as a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR. She visited Bosnia with her partner Brad Pitt in April, to assist thousands of the people who remain displaced 15 years after the war ended.

Jolie's project has received support from many of Bosnia's own celebrities, including Jasmila Zbanic, the Bosnian director of "Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams," which won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2006.

"Annulling the permit is an act of supreme primitivism and totalitarianism," she said in a statement, adding that there are "no noble motives" for denying the permit.

Sarajevo Culture Minister Emir Hadzihafizbegovic, who is also a well known actor, has also said he was very disturbed with the whole matter.

"Is this how we thank Angelina Jolie ... for treating a Bosnian tragedy that has already been forgotten by the world ... for hiring five or six Bosnian actors in her movie?" he said. "Logic does not apply to Bosnia."

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