PROMOTION OF SAGA’S FILMS // 05. 1993.
ISMET ARNAUTALIC // SAGA TV/FILM PRODUCTION COMPANY
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

May 1993

Ismet Arnautalic
‘Saga’, Production Company
PROMOTION OF SAGA’S FILMS

‘From ’92 to ’95 Saga showed films all over the world. It was in a way absurd. We were all living under siege and it was absolutely impossible to get out of Sarajevo but the authors and film people, had the great privilege of travelling all over the world. Not, as tourists. All the people working with Saga were doing their best to change the media impression, which the world was forming about Bosnia through the standard TV programs.’

TOPIC RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS
TOPIC RELATED TEXT

MAY 1993


• The first international wedding is announced in Sarajevo. The wedding cake is made from potatoes. The groom, Stephen Peterson, a UN employee, says: “I have a wife, Zorica, we’re renting a house in Sarajevo, we have a garden, our own plums, we even have a dog.”
• Athens, May 1, 1993. A two-day conference on BiH begins in Athens. The co-chairs of the peace conference are Cyrus Vance and Lord David Owen. Present at the meeting are: Alija Izetbegovic, Franjo Tudjman, Slobodan Milosevic, Momir Bulatovic, Mate Boban and Radovan Karadzic. Haris Silajdzic, the Foreign Minister of BiH, announces: “The Serbs are buying time by coming to Athens.” Before Athens, General Morillon shows Alija Izetbegovic corrections to the map agreed upon in Geneva. Izetbegovic refuses to discuss the corrections. In Athens, Radovan Karadzic signs an agreement on the condition that the Bosnian Serb Assembly approves it. Alija Izetbegovic: “This signature is a great victory for our country.”


• Officially Washington will not rule out military intervention if the Serbs continue as before.
• MUP Sarajevo issues the proclamation: “If you come across unexploded shells call 985.”


• The textile firm “Alhos” clads BiH athletes at the Mediterranean Games in Montpelier.


• The Bosnian Serb Army launches an offensive against Yepa Alija Izetbegovic requests that Zepa immediately be placed under UN protection. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees recommends that a UNHCR convoy be sent in without the armed protection of UNPROFOR, as this would not provoke the Bosnian Serbs, while if the Bosnian Serbs did stop the convoy they could negotiate for peace.
• The City Assembly appeals to the world for food assistance.
• Drugs enter the city from Posusje, Zenica and Split.
• The Swimming Association of BiH holds a promotion with the aim of raising awareness among citizens on the importance of swimming with the construction of a Sarajevo swimming pool.


• U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher embarks on a trip to Europe.
• The Bosnian Serb Assembly sets nine conditions for the UN. The deadline now is three weeks.
• The first wartime kindergarten is opened in Alipasino polje.


• The Bosnian Serb assembly rejects the peace plan. The Serbian government announces the suspension of all humanitarian aid to the Bosnian Serbs after their reckless voting.
• The “Hare-Krisna” festival begins, a wartime peace festival, with traditional music, Swedish drama and lectures.


• A meeting is held between General Morillon and Alija Izetbegovic. General Morillon: “If we or any other UN Safe Zone is attacked, we have the right and the duty to return fire.”
• The Bosnian Serbs hold a referendum. Russia supports this decision. Madeleine Albright, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, isn’t ready to support the decision, believing it a trick by the Serbs to buy time to win further territory. U.S. President Bill Clinton announces: “Ethnic cleansing is savage cynicism, an outrage to the world’s conscience and our standards of conduct.”


• Former Yugoslav Premier, communist hardliner and president of the Olympic Committee of BiH, Branko Mikulic, sends a letter to the President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch: “Our thinking about the future is an act of defiance in itself. We will not be crushed!”
• The director of Kamerni teatar 55, Gradimir Gojer, makes an appeal to dramatic artists across the world to halt performances and bring attention to the birth of fascism in the Balkans.
• Haris Silajdzic formally requests the withdrawal of UNPROFOR personnel from BiH out of concern for the safety of UN soldiers and their impediment to the defense of sovereign countries.
• NATO holds exercises on the issue: “Responding to regional conflicts.”
• Mostar bathed in blood and flames. Fighting breaks out between the HVO and the Army of BiH. A ceasefire is reached over telephone by Alija Izetbegovic and Mate Boban. The conflict between Croats and Muslims receives greater attention from American media, and further complicates decisions on military intervention and lifting the arms embargo on BiH.
• Serbia punishes the Bosnian Serbs for their refusal to sign the peace agreement by closing the border with Bosnia for 120 km. Biljana Plavsic, one of the Bosnian Serb leaders, is sent back at the border.


• European leaders decided to wait on military intervention until the results of the Bosnian Serb referendum. Lord Owen: “Americans view Europeans as weaklings, and Europeans view Americans as cowboys.”


• A meeting of the BH government is held. They decide “Croat troops must withdraw from BiH, otherwise BiH will seek protection from aggression.”
• Bosnian Serb offensive against Brcko.
• Croat troops destroy the bridge in Bijela (Herzegovina), preventing the arrival of convoys to Sarajevo and Central Bosnia.


• Chetnik Vojvoda Vojislav Seselj announces: “In retaliation for any Italian participation in an allied campaign, we will bombard civilian targets in Italy.” France develops a plan for UN “Safe Zones.”
• General Ratko Mladic, Commander of the Bosnian Serb Army, on the possibility of military intervention, announces: “In the case of intervention, Washington will suffer bomb attacks in its large cities. Serb immigrants will carry those attacks out. No foreign soldier that comes to Bosnia will come out alive.”


• Smuggling at the airport runway thrives: one crossing with 10kg of food can earn 1,000DM.


• At the Sarajevo airport HVO and Bosnian Serb representatives meet, without the knowledge of the Army of BiH, an example of their open collaboration.
• Josip Magdic, a Sarajevan composer, promotes “Wartime notes 92”, through the Croat Cultural Society “Napredak”.
• Kamerni teatar 55 holds a performance of “A Prayer for Peace”. They perform the composition “Ave Maria”.
• The “Miss City Under Siege” is selected, Inela Nogic.
• News from “Bosnalijek”: pharmacist Saša Pilipovic produces a drug that had run out - Dexamethasone. Infusion solutions are manufactured.


• Only 105 dogs in the city are vaccinated against rabies.
• Theatre blossoms in the city.
• Pest exterminations are carried out in the city.


• Military patrols of the Army of the Republic of BiH (ARBiH) hold control over the streets. Whoever lacks the necessary paperwork is summoned immediately to the army and placed in a unit.

Cultural survival

The besieged city defends itself by culture and thus survives. Groups and individuals create whatever they used to create before the siege In impossible circumstances they produce films, write books, publish newspapers, produce radio programs, design postcards, stage exhibitions, performances, make blueprints for rebuilding the city, found new banks, organize fashion shows, shoot photographs, celebrate holidays, put on make up... Sarajevo is the city of the future and of the life in the post-cataclysm. In it on the ruins of the old civilization a new one is sprouting, an alternative one, composed of remains of urban elements Sarajevo lives a life of futuristic comics and science fiction movies.

Saga

Saga is Ademir Kenović's film center where he and other young film directors and cameramen produce documentary films about Sarajevo. Ademir Kenović took these films on tour in the U.S. and France.

Ismet Arnautalic
He was born on December 25, 1942 in Sarajevo. He was into music as a composer and author, as one of the members of the first generation of the “Sarajevo Pop School.” In the meantime, he graduated from the Philosophy College, the psychology department. He was the editor of the musical-entertaining program of Sarajevo television in the 80’s. Together with Kenovic, he founded the producing company ‘SAGA”.

THE SIEGE
During the siege he worked as the main producer in ‘SAGA.” Together with Kenovic he directed the film “The Testimony of a Monster,” which was part of the large project “Man, God, Monster-Sarajevo.” It was presented at the Film Festival in Cannes.

It there were life after life, in what shape would you return?
Mett Leech.

How do you describe perfect happiness?
I don’t think about that.

What is you biggest loss?
The loss of state.

What is your biggest gain?
The gain of state.

When and where were you happiest?
When I saw my kids for the first time after a year. (Rimini, Italy.)

What are your lost illusions?
That there is final justice.

Describe your day at work.
They are all the same, but totally different.

Sarajevo?
A city according to my opinion.

What words don’t you use anymore?
All words that have lost sense.

In your opinion, is morale a virtue?
Yes.

Where would you like to live?
Only in Sarajevo.

How have you survived?
Nobody knows that.

What are you afraid of?
Uncertainty.

Does the past exist for you?
No.

This is the end of a civilization. What will the next one be like?
Worse.

Can you give us a recipe for mental health?
I don’t know.

How would you like to die?
Naturally.

Do you need hope to live?
Yes.

What did ’92 look like, and ’93, and ’94?
The three most difficult years.

How would you call this period of your life?
As a period of knowledge.

Your message from the end of the world, from a country of last things?
I have no wish to send anybody any messages.

Do you like life, and what is life all about?
I do love.

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