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How did a Bosnian director manage to win an Oscar this year

01:00 Mon 08th Apr 2002 |

A.� Danis Tanovic's Oscar for Best Foreign Film has taken on a significance that exceeds the importance of the award itself. When the news was announced in Los Angeles last month, the presidency of Bosnia- Herzegovina described it as a "moment of joy and happiness" for the entire nation.

The euphoria in Sarajevo after the news of Tanovic's success spread, was a bit like the scenes in neighbouring Croatia when Goran Ivanisevic surprised the world by winning Wimbledon.�

Q.� How successful is the Bosnian film industry

A.� It has scored very little success outside Bosnia. This was the Balkans' first ever Oscar, but the country is hoping it will draw potential film finaciers to the region. Tanovic's success has served to highlight the tragedy of the brain drain, which has been sucking the post-war and economically troubled Balkans dry for years.

Tanovic, who now lives in France, received no financial support for his film - hardly surprising as unemployment in the country currently stands at 40 per cent. He went abroad to find sponsors, and the film, No Man's Land, is a collective French, Belgian, Italian and Slovene achievement. It was shot in Slovenia and Italy as Bosnia was considered too risky.

Q.� What's the film about

A.� The film is a tragi-comic look at the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It's an investigation into the stupidity of war which cleverly cuts across ethnic divides. The film has a fairly small cast, set in a tiny location between the Bosnia and Serb frontlines and it cost just over $1 million to make. It tells the story of two soldiers, played by Branko Djuric and Rene Bitorajac, a Bosnian Muslim and a Serb, who end up in an abandoned trench together. One of the men is lying on a mine that will explode if he moves.

UN peacekeepers who try to help come acoss as ineffective and inaction, and so far the film has attracted more than 200,000 Bosnians. This is a staggering figure when compared with the 22,000 people in the countyr who saw Pearl Harbor.

Q.� Will it be shown in the UK

A.� Almost certainly. Following its success at numerous film festivals, including Cannes where it was awarded the Palme d'Or, the rights have been sold in most countries, including Pakistan and Japan.

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By Katharine MacColl

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