USA: BOSNIAN WAR FILM, "WELCOME TO SARAJEVO", DIRECTED BY MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM HAS ITS U.S. PREMIERERecord ID: 387375
- Title: USA: BOSNIAN WAR FILM, "WELCOME TO SARAJEVO", DIRECTED BY MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM HAS ITS U.S. PREMIERE
- Date: 16th November 1997
- Summary: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (NOVEMBER 19, 1997) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) ( ** BEWARE FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY **) PEOPLE OUTSIDE PREMIERE THEATRE DIRECTOR MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM AND ACTOR GORAN VISNJIC POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS (SOUNDBITE ENGLISH) GORAN VISNJIC SAYING, "I THINK THAT LOTS OF PEOPLE AFTER THEY SEE THIS MOVIE, I THINK THEY WILL BE A LITTLE BIT CLOSER TO ALL THOSE STORIES WHAT WAS GOING ON DURING THOSE WARS IN BOSNIA." (SOUNDBITE ENGLISH) MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM SAYING, "I THINK THE EXPERIENCE OF GOING TO THE CINEMA IS VERY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE TO WATCHING T.V. NEWS. I MEAN, OBVIOUSLY, IN THE NEWS, YOU GET 30 SECONDS, YOU GET A MINUTE AND THEN THERE'S ANOTHER STORY OR YOU SWITCH OVER AND WATCH SOMETHING ELSE. IN THE CINEMA, YOU GO THERE FOR A HUNDRED MINUTES, YOU'RE INVOLVED IN PEOPLE'S STORY, YOU'RE INVOLVED IN THE CHARACTERS AND HOPEFULLY, PERHAPS, IT HAS MORE EMOTIONAL IMPACT, IT MAKES PEOPLE FEEL MORE LIKE THEY UNDERSTAND A LITTLE BIT THE EMOTIONAL SIDE OF WHAT IT MUST BE LIKE TO BE IN SARAJEVO DURING THE WAR." (SOUNDBITE ENGLISH) SYLVESTER STALLONE SAYING OF THE FILM, "WELL, I THINK IT CAN ONLY HELP, THIS FILM HERE IS REALLY AN EDUCATIVE PROCESS BESIDES HAVING SOMETHING THAT IS STILL GOING ON ACTUALLY, AND TO ACTUALLY HAVE A FILM COME OUT ABOUT IT AT THE SAME TIME, IT CAN ONLY HAVE A TREMENDOUS IMPACT AND WILL CERTAINLY, IF IT CATCHES AMERICA'S FANCY, WHICH I HOPE IT DOES, HELP TO TERMINATE THE SITUATION A GREAT DEAL SOONER THAN IT NORMALLY WOULD." (SOUNDBITE ENGLISH) ACTOR BILLY CONNELLY SAYING (ABOUT THIS FILM PERSONALIZING THE WAR), "I THINK IT IS ABSOLUTELY BOUND TO, IT CERTAINLY DID FOR ME, NOT ONLY FOR THIS WAR, BUT FOR EVERY WAR. YOU KNOW, YOU SAY, GOD, I WISH I HAD DONE SOMETHING, I WISH I HAD BEEN MORE INVOLVED, I WISH I KNEW MORE."
- Reuters ID: LVACUSGIA43CDVMQD6K1QE1XLJIW
- Location: NEW YORK, NEW YORK AND LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES/ FILM lOCATIONS
- Country: USA
- Duration: 00:01:52
- Story Text: - Hollywood was confronted with the Bosnian war in the premiere of Michael Winterbottom's hard-hitting movie "Welcome to Sarajevo".
Hollywood veterans Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei join British actors Stephen Dillane and Emily Lloyd and Croatian actor Goran Visnjic in the film which tells the story of journalists covering the conflict.
Speaking at the film's premiere on November 19, Visnjic said he hoped the movie would give people insight into the war.
Winterbottom said he wanted his film to explain more about the situation in Sarajevo during the unrest thantelevision news reports had ever been able to portray.
"It has more emotional impact, it makes people feel more like they understand a little bit the emotional side of what it must be like to be in Sarajevo during the war," he said.
In the film, Dillane stars as journailst Michael Henderson, who, despite being an experienced war correspondent, is still unprepared for the carnage which confronts him in Bosnia's besieged capital.
The film opens in 1992, at the beginning of the siege which went on to become the longest in modern history.
The cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic city that once hosted the winter Olympics is under attack from Bosnian Serbs fighting to overturn Bosnian independence. Where cafes and boutiques once stood, there are now snipers and landmines.
No-one is safe in the city - especially the world's press corps, who are camped out in the middle of it all.
As well as Henderson, there's star American reporter Flynn, played by Woody Harrelson; Annie McGee, a freelance correspondant new to war coverage played by Emily Lloyd; and Risto, a Sarajevo resident played by Goran Visnjic who is hired to serve as a driver and guide to the journalists.
In real life Visnjic was a member of the Yugoslav Army and fought the Serbs in his native Croatia while defending his home village.
The characters in the film lead complicated lives.
Besides dodging sniper bullets and mortar shells to get their stories, they also must fight with their editors back in London and Washington to secure air time. It seems the West has grown bored of the conflict, and stories from Sarajevo are starting to take second place to other corners of the globe.
Henderson's objective news reporting style undergoes a shift when he becomes obsessed with the plight of a group of children trapped at the Ljubica Ivezic orphanage.
In the course of doing stories about attempts to get these children out of Sarajevo, Henderson makes a promise to one young orphan, Emira. He unwittingly makes a guarantee that he will get her out of Sarajevo.
His chance comes when American humanitarian aid worker Nina, played by Marisa Tomei, organizes a convoy of buses delivering the children to safety. When she realizes Emira can't join the rescue because she doesn't have a sponsor, Henderson offers to adopt her and bring her back to his home and family in England.
"Welcome to Sarajevo" is based on the real-life experiences of Michale Nicholson, a journalist for Britain's Independent Television News (ITN).
Nicholson smuggled a child out of Bosnia and later wrote a book about the experience called "Natasha's Story." His actions opened him up to much criticism from fellow journalists who argued he should have stayed objective in his coverage of the war. He countered their attacks by saying there was no way for anyone involved in the seige to remain objective and without passion.
"Correspondents there became very close to the people and therefore very close to the story which is why so many emotional reports came out of that place," he said.
Director Michael Winterbottom took the unorthodox and risky step of shooting his film on location in Sarajevo, a shelled-out city that is only now beginning to get back on its feet.
The hotel where the cast and crew stayed was one of only a handful operating and it had no running water or heat. Rockets had blasted large holes through many of the hotel's walls.
There was literally no infrastructure in the city. Power and communications were still sporadic, mail service and telephones were not fully operational. And chillingly every location had to be checked for land mines before filming could begin.
But Winterbottom contends that the chance to film in the city with residents serving as crew and extras far outweighed any risks or logistical difficulties.
Dillane said he felt it was important that filming took place in the city: "If we hadn't gone there I'm just not sure whether we'd have got the stress levels and the sense of anger and the permanence of death all around you." Tomei said she felt the people of Sarajevo had real depth and heart, "I think it was there before the war, but it became more profound having gone through it together."
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