SARAJEVO ROSES
Currently in production-see it in fall 2010
sarajevoroses.com

During the four-year siege of the Bosnian capital city of Sarajevo, hundreds of thousands of bombs rained upon the city from the surrounding hills. Every shell exploding on a road or paved area left an imprint resembling that of a flower. Today, some of these craters remain, their 'petals' painted red and referred to as 'Sarajevo roses' by its citizens, like scars on the heart, a reminder of the innocent blood that was spilled on these streets.

SARAJEVO ROSES is the true story of Asim Haracic, a Bosnian-American doctor and musician. In this cinematic essay, he relates his life story and philosophy forged from a life of change and upheaval, growing up during the Tito-era communist Yugoslavia, starting a family and then having life shattered by war, surviving the siege of Sarajevo and then fleeing into exile to start a new life.

SYNOPSIS
As the longest siege of the 20th Century rages, the doctor, trained as a plastic surgeon, alternates daily shifts as an army medic on the frontlines of the besieged city and as an emergency room doctor at Kosevo hospital, using his skills to help wounded citizens of Sarajevo survive the daily shelling and sniper fire from the Bosnian Serbs. He finds himself in an existentialist nightmare of no hope for the future, where the meaning of life is defined simply as a struggle for day-to-day survival.

In 1995, after surviving three-and-a-half years under siege, the doctor sends his wife and their four-month-old son through the only escape route from Sarajevo. They crawl through an underground tunnel under the tarmac of the airport, ringed by the Bosnian Serb army. They then trudge on foot, at night, over heavily mined Mount Igman, the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics biathlon event. Finding sanctuary in the USA, they begin rebuilding their lives and eventually become US citizens.

Moving to near Washington, DC, the doctor begins composing songs and also putting to music some of the poems in a friend’s war journal, as part of his healing process from the emotional toll of war. Ironically, Dr. Asim Haracic, who retrained as a psychiatrist when he came to America, now counsels citizens of the Washington, DC area suffering from mental trauma resulting from violence and personal loss.

The most important aspect of SARAJEVO ROSES is that it offers an insight into how a beautiful, modern 20th century city that hosted the 1984 Winter Olympic Games, an event celebrating and showcasing the pinnacle of humanity’s athletic achievement and brotherhood, could only eight years later become a symbol of the lowest of forms of man’s depravity and brutality toward his neighbor. For generations to come these questions will be asked by scholars and historians. This film is a meditation on how the near dismantling of civilization as we know it can happen in a brief span of time when the right, or wrong, conditions are created. It also explores the concept of memory, both personal and collective, and how distorted history and memory can be passed down through generations and used to justify extremism and destroying ‘the other’.

SARAJEVO ROSES is the story one man’s search for inner peace after the trauma of war, and a personal testimony to his descendants in the hope that they will come to understand that love and living fully in the present is the best thing we can hope for as human beings.

Filmmaker/photographer Roger M. Richards in 1992 began documenting the siege of Sarajevo during the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia. His work chronicled the entire war and the city’s transition to peace over the span of 17 years. During the war his path crossed with Dr. Asim Haracic several times, but they never formally met until peacetime.

TECHNICAL NOTES: Sarajevo Roses is being filmed with an Aaton XTRPlus Super 16mm camera and a Beaulieu 4008 ZMII Super 8mm; older footage was shot with a Canon XL-1 MiniDV camera. The transfer of the Super 16mm Kodak Vision 3 500T 7219 footage to 1920x1080 Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) HD format for this teaser was done at Cinelicious cinelicious.tv in Los Angeles, California.

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