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Shells and Shooting _ But Only Pretend _ Return to Sarajevo

February 9, 1996

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ It’s peacetime now, but soon shelling, blackouts and gun battles will be returning to Sarajevo streets.

This time, though, it will be make-believe.

About 100 onlookers gathered in heavy snow and minus 20 degree cold Thursday night to watch a moviemaker’s dream factory recreate Sarajevo’s nightmare.

``Scene 41-1, take 1, first time,″ yelled a production assistant.

``Quiet.″

``Camera.″

``Action.″

It was more than just the start of the first feature movie production in post-war Bosnia.

``For us, it means the start of a new life,″ said the director, Ademir Kenovic, 40.

Although the shooting of a movie on the streets of Sarajevo highlights the city’s return to near-normalcy, the subject matter shows how war remains a powerful part of people’s lives.

``The film talks about the life of ordinary people in war in Sarajevo in 1992 and 1993,″ Kenovic said moments before the shooting began.

``Perfect Circle″ is a story about two refugee children and their relationship with a man who has sent his own family away from Sarajevo. It follows their adventures and ordeals during the worst of the siege of the city.

Local media have warned residents about the start of the production, so they won’t be disturbed by the sounds of shelling and shooting or by electricity cut-offs in parts of the city to recreate the atmosphere of Sarajevo in 1992.

``Nobody in Sarajevo is going to shoot back on us,″ Kenovic said, laughing. ``But it’s not pleasant for the people to be reminded of the horror they went through. People here are very sensitive.″

The screenplay is by Abdulah Sidran, who wrote scripts for the first two movies of Emir Kusturica, a director from Sarajevo whose films have won awards at festivals across Europe.

The main actor, Mustafa Nadarevic, in his 60s, is one of the best actors in former Yugoslavia. He spent the war in Croatia and came back to Sarajevo three weeks ago.

``Sarajevo is more beautiful now than ever before,″ he said, sitting in his chair in the makeup room.

``A city you judge by the people. If it would be judged by the women, it would be even higher on the list,″ he said, smiling.

The crowd that gathered to witness the first scenes was patient despite a one-hour delay.

``Hah, if these were the old times, a shell would land here and we would have another marketplace massacre,″ said Omer Cehajic, 54, resident of a building near the scene.

Sarajevans still have second thoughts about gathering in the open. During almost four years of war, Serb gunners often targeted street crowds.

``We didn’t believe this moment would ever come. After all we went through here _ what a joy this is,″ said Sabina Lekic, 34.

The film will be made by SAGA, a group of filmmakers from Sarajevo, in a European co-production financed by a European Union film fund.

In addition to the funding, Kenovic is grateful for the other forms of foreign support that have made the film possible.

``I’d like to thank to all foreign organizations working in Sarajevo, specially IFOR (the NATO-led peace force), which is doing everything to bring our life back to normal,′ he said.

Kenovic and SAGA shot documentaries and short films during the war. ``But all the time (we were) preparing for this big moment,″ he said.

After the signal was given for the start, the crowd hushed and Nadarevic walked up the street holding two children by the hand.

``Stop,″ Kenovic shouted.

``Ladies and gentlemen, this was the first scene of the movie `Perfect Circle.′ Let this project be the announcement of other similar projects and the return of normal life.″

Everybody yelled and applauded.

``And now _ champagne,″ he yelled.

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