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WELCOME TO SARAJEVO

SYNOPSIS:
Set in 1992, at the start of the seige of Sarajevo, this story is based on real events. English war correspondent Michael Henderson (Stephen Dillane) and his crew – cameraman Greg (James Nesbitt), producer Jane Carson (Kerry Fox) and Sarjevan driver Risto (Goran Visnjic) – provide the daily coverage to show the world what tragedy is unfolding in this town. At night, they gather at the bar in their generator-lit hotel, living in harsh conditions, in as much danger from shelling as anyone else. Star American journalist Flynn (Woody Harrelson) risks his own life to help a felled civilian. But sometimes the war coverage is dropped from the top spot by stories that seem oddly empty from their perspective, such as the separation of Andrew and Fergie, Duke and Duchess of York. But when Henderson discovers an orphanage on the front line that has been unable to evacuate the children due to the polkitical deadlock, Henderson has a big news story: big gunds, little children, evil men. It becomes even bigger for Henderson, when his campaign to publicise the plight of these children turns into a personal passion to save young Emira, who attaches herself to Henderson and extracts from him the promise that he will get her out of Sarajevo. It sets his course for a new life.

"The poetry of Welcome to Sarajevo is born out of its dramatic premise, a powerful and human story of a war correspondent who, almost without knowing why and acting on instinct (of the most compassionate kind), involves himself personally in the fate of a young orphan girl caught in the effects of war. The potency of the film comes from its veracity in reflecting war torn Bosnia, in a way that is suggestive of documentary, but this is no fake documentary approach; indeed, there is nothing fake. Dillane is excellent in the lead role, and there are outstanding performances all round. Not surprising, really, from Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei or Kerry Fox. . . The detail of living inside a brutal civil war are painfully accurate, especially for those who have had some experience of it. Yes, it is a sombre story in many ways, and not entirely a night of escapist fun; but you will be enriched – and even entertained at times - by the sardonically titled Welcome to Sarajevo."
Andrew L. Urban

"A melancholy cello sings its song of sorrow but injects musical phrases of hope. Such is the emotion in Welcome to Sarajevo, where disturbing images of war and its destruction are married to a very human story. Michael Winterbottom delivers a film with heart, set in the devastation of Sarajevo, succeeding only too well in showing the gut-wrenching conflict, beyond the impartiality required to be a working journalist en situ. Then there’s bureaucracy which conflicts with the compassionate point of view. The documentary style is cleverly intermingled with that of the narrative, and fluid direction brings the shadowy life-style into reality. There are heartbreaking scenes, such as a little girl who has lost both her parents, and of a naked youth, running in the streets. This is a story of heartbreak, loss, devastation, and how the innocent try to lead a semblance of a normal life. The strong cast of Stephen Dillane, Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei bring style and substance to an already substantive topic, allowing a whole new audience to glimpse a slice of life in war-torn Sarajevo. Welcome to Sarajevo is moving, intriguing and shocking - putting a human face on the war."
Louise Keller

"The Bosnian war is undoubtedly one of the most tragic in recent memory, and so it's no surprise that it has attracted some of the year's more interesting films, including Bosnia's own contribution, Full Circle. But British director Michael Winterbottom has crafted a powerful work, which not only details the sniper war that ravaged a country, but the role of the media, and how media can affect the resolution of war. If the film is flawed, it's because it takes on board a myriad of issues: war, media, the place of children, and Henderson's own development as a human being. Yet, Winterbottom's assured direction allow us to become voyeurs into Henderson's extraordinary world, and its mishmash of ideas ultimately form a cohesive whole. It's a film about the very depths of human tragedy, yet remains optimistic. Stephen Dillane excels as journalist Henderson, though Woody Harrelson proves how masterful an actor he is as the contradictory TV journalist Flynn. This is a searing, emotionally charged work of utmost power, deeply moving and occasionally savagely funny. It's a stunning, articulate, visionary piece by one of the most audacious filmmakers of his generation."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0
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See Nick Roddick's interview with
MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM

WELCOME TO SARAJEVO ( M) 15+
(UK/US)

CAST: Stephen Dillane, Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Emira Nusevic, Kerry Fox, Goran Visnjic, James Nesbitt, Emiy Lloyd, Igor Dzambazov, Gordana Gadzic, Juliet Aubrey, Drazen Sivak, Vesna Orel, Davor Janjic

DIRECTOR: Michael Winterbottom

PRODUCER: Graham Broadbent, Damian Jones

SCRIPT: Frank Cottrel Boyce (based on the book Natasha’s Story by Michael Nicholson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daf Hobson

EDITOR: Trevor Waite

MUSIC: Adrian Johnston

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Geraghty

RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 25, 1998







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