EUROPEAN OSCAR FOR ‘STREET UNDER SIEGE’ // 04. 1994.
ISMET ARNAUTALIC // THE ‘SAGA’ PRODUCER
ORAL HISTORY - INTERVIEW
ORAL HISTORY - TRANSCRIPT

April 1994

Ismet Arnautalic
‘Saga’ producer
EUROPEAN OSCAR FOR ‘STREET UNDER SIEGE’

‘From November ’93 to April ’94 we worked on a big project together with the French film center, Point de Jour. and BBC II. It was called Street under Siege, based on 2-minute interviews recorded in Musa Cazima Catica Street, before called Hajduk Veljko Street. These were just the ordinary human stories about everyday life in the conditions we were living in. How people dealt with the basic problems - How to find water, what to make for lunch, how to get about the town, all sorts of things like that. We recorded over 4 months. Our team went out every morning and recorded for about 2 hours. We mounted from about 2 to 5 and at 5 rushed to the TV studio to send it out by satellite. It was a very successful series. In England they measured the number of viewers after 15 days and it had an audience of 600,000. But after another month the audience reached 3 and a half million. That showed that people were interested in ordinary human stories. The series got the Bafta Award of the British Film Academy. Sometime in October ’94 a Fax came to Saga, signed by the famous German producer, Wim Wenders, in the name of the European Film Academy, asking the members of Saga if they would accept the Felix Award. At first we thought it was some kind of joke. We absolutely didn’t understand what it was about. We were not really thinking about awards of any kind. We were living in a completely different world where quite other things were the center of interest. If politicians from anywhere in the world had offered us an award we would probably not have accepted it. But since it was an award from our film colleagues, well known film people we replied enthusiastically that we would take it. And 27 November ’94, Ademir Kenovic and I received the European Oscar in Berlin.’

TOPIC RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS
TOPIC RELATED TEXT

APRIL 1994


• The Croatian Party of Rights, regarding the Croatian-Muslim conflict, and the establishment of the Federation: "We will crush the HDZ, which brought conflict between the Muslims and Croats."


• The Bosnian Serbs carry out an attack on Gorazde.
• Stephen Spielberg wins an Oscar for the film "Schindler's List".
• The leader of Montenegro's liberals, Slavko Perovic, challenges to a duel with pistols the Montenegrin Minister of the Interior in a protest over violence against two Muslims who were his guests.


• Only a limited number of citizens and only those with escorts can visit homes and relatives in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Grbavica held by Bosnian Serbs.


• On the occasion of 110 years of Elektrodistribucija BiH the street lights on Titova Street, Ferhadija and Trg Oslobodjenja (Liberation Square) are turned on.


• Sarajevo is heavily shelled.
• Statement of the Basic Court II: divorces are produced as if by assembly line. In most cases the sued party is the wife. If the spouses are separated for two years and if the address of one of the spouses is unknown, the plaintiff automatically receives a divorce.
• A telephone line with Croatia is established. Numbers can be dialed only from the Post Office.


• Because of Bosnian Serb Army attacks on Gorazde and Sarajevo, General Michael Rose requests air strikes, Akashi approves, and NATO carries them out. UNPROFOR telephones Ratko Mladic at 14:00 hours, sends a fax to him at 14:50, and then drops two bombs.


• Because of the air strikes, Boris Yeltsin grows angry at Clinton because Washington did not consult him.
• In Pale, the Bosnian Serbs decided to block all access roads to Sarajevo, including for the UN and international humanitarian organizations.
• The television network of the Bosnian Serbs, "Srna ", shows footage from Somalia with a bound and murdered U.S. soldier and adds the comment: "If this can be done in Somalia, think of what the Serbs can do!"


• Branko Mikulic passes away, one of Tito's closest associates in communist Yugoslavia.


• Bosnian Serb soldiers commit a massacre in Gorazde. The UN sends a message to the Bosnian Serbs that they are not their enemies. NATO strikes do not mean victory for their opponents; NATO is only helping them comply with UN rules. In Gorazde, 200 UN personnel are detained, as well as 58 observers who are kept prisoners.


• Akashi obtains a cease-fire for Gorazde.
• Passengers shot in a Sarajevo tram.


• Because of this new crisis Yasushi Akashi says: "We do not have the resources to cope with the situation, all this is beyond the capability of the UN. Everything depends on the Security Council and Boutros Ghali."
• Heavy artillery attacks on Gorazde.


• Sarajevans hold a meeting on the rescue of Gorazde.
• Michael Rose: "Without large troops it is impossible to protect the Gorazde UN 'safe area'."
• The head of the Catholic Church in BiH, Vinko Puljic, sends an appeal to the world: "If the bases of UN institutions are broken, from which starting point is human civilization possible?"
• The organization "Doctors without borders" seeks the resignation of Yasushi Akashi. Two of their colleagues are in Gorazde and provide help for the people there: "It is shameful how the international community has surrendered politically in Bosnia."


• Russian President, Boris Yeltsin urges Bosnian Serbs to withdraw and permit the entry of UN troops into Gorazde. Yasushi Akashi boycotts Karadzic until he releases the UN workers and lifts the siege of Gorazde. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vitali Churkin, because of the crisis in Gorazde says: "The Serbs for days were deceiving me." He asks Russia to suspend talks with the Serbs. Turkey wants to lift an arms embargo on Bosnia to save the country.
• In Lukavica, the Bosnian Serbs seize anti-aircraft rifles from a UN checkpoint. 150 Bosnian Serbs confiscate the weapons of 30 UN French soldiers.
• Pale: Serbs have signed the UN agreement on a ceasefire and the deployment of UN troops.


• In Gorazde, the Bosnian Serbs do not slow down. In Sarajevo, the Serbs return the anti-aircraft rifles but they seize an APC form the UN checkpoint. Yeltsin insists that only the UN Security Council can order the strike - in the UN Security Council the Russians have a veto.
• A report from a Sarajevo pharmacy: 30 tons of medicines should be destroyed. The aid shipments were arriving with drugs as many as 10 years old. In the pharmacy for humanitarian aid there is no information about the drugs’ origins and it remains unclear why the UNHCR never checked their information when receiving them.


• The City government in Sarajevo makes the decision to ban alcohol, poker machines, gambling, video games, live music - everything that makes noise and disturbs the peace of citizens.


• 59 people killed in Gorazde.
• Russia is trying to bring military action to diplomacy.
• NATO is waiting ready with 200 aircraft if the Serbs continue with violations in the "safe areas".


• Yasushi Akashi, "The Serbs have complied with the terms of the NATO ultimatum. The situation does not justify air strikes. "
• UNPROFOR Commander Michael Rose yet again goes to sleep. He does not wait for the expiration of the ultimatum. The U.S. and NATO want to strike, but the UN prevents them.
• Former President of the United States, Richard Nixon dies.


• The Russian Duma recommends: "Negotiations, not war."


• NATO ultimatum: Bosnian Serbs must withdraw their weapons 20 km from Gorazde. 4500 troops and 200 NATO aircraft await commands.


• The Bosnian Serbs comply with the ultimatum.
• Sarajevo: The humanitarian association "Roma Brothers", with the help of donors, organizes the "Roma Ball."


• A performance on the Miljacka is held: on the river a raft with a flag is launched. Bottles are thrown with the message: "This is not a wall! Hello Europe, we are the world! "


• The Bosnian Serbs issue their edition of the daily "Oslobodjenje", entitled "Srpsko Oslobodjenje."


• Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the U.K.: "The Serbian attacks on the 'safe areas' is an insult to humanity."

Cinema

“Scena obala”. Once a week at 1 p.m. The place is safe. The auditorium sits 100 people. Heating by battery. Movies are on video tapes. The cinema is also a meeting place for intellectuals, foreign newsman and artist.

CULTURAL SURVIVAL

Sarajevo is a unique city on the planet. It is the site where our civilization has been dismantled in the course of intentional violence.
But Sarajevo is also the symbol of civil defense, the site where violence has been fought back with tolerance, fascism with art and culture, destruction with rebuilding, death with humour, the outburst of rural culture with the one that's urban terror with stubborn maintaining of normal city lifestyle.
Sarajevo has been deprived of all the civil, existential and social rights. It has been deprived of the right to live. Everything that makes normal urban living has been taken away from Sarajevo and its citizens, everything that could have been taken away has been taken away, all except for the right to survive by maintaining the right to culture.
But among all that destruction and dying, kids are being born, birthdays celebrated, weddings carried out. In the city surrounded by the deadly circle of primitivism the exhibitions are being opened, movies made, festivals organized, theatre plays and musicals performed.
Sarajevo lives the post-cataclysm. It is the picture of civilization emerging out of cataclysm, making something out of nothing, giving messages for the future.
Not because the future is necessarily a future of wars and disasters, but because humans are growing older and being born into a world which is ever less secure.
All that has been left under the ruins of Sarajevo, all that has survived the shelling of our civilization is the spirit of the cultural survival. The reconstruction of that spirit, the spirit of Sarajevo must start – now. Otherwise – Sarajevo will become the graveyard of the principles of multiethnicity and human rights.

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.

TOPIC RELATED VIDEO
POLLS
POLL
MAPA SIEGE OF SARAJEVO