tv Tavis Smiley PBS December 20, 2011 2:00pm-2:30pm PST
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with actress angelina jolie. she has written a new project called "in the land of blood and honey." she will also be joined by one of the stars of the new film, zana marjanovic. we are glad you have joined us. the conversation with angelina jolie coming up right now. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time.
nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: pleased to welcome angelina jolie to the program. she is making her directorial debut with a project called "in the land of blood and honey." we are also delighted to have one of the stars of the film, zana marjanovic. the movie opens december 23 in new york and los angeles.
more cities on the way in in january. scenes from "in the land of blood and honey." >> come out with your hands in the air. >> it is very complicated. one of your friends is in my scope. i wonder, would he kill me if she and the chance? >> she will betray you. she is not to be trusted. should i trust you? did i make a mistake? i think i did. tavis: a powerful performance.
wonderful, wonderful job. if this is the debut, i don't know where you go from here. i am saying that because when i saw this it was so moving. you and -- i was saying that my first thought was whether or not, on your debut, you could pull off telling a story that many of us know somewhat well. we have covered this and is seen this for years. we know the subject matter. we know your politics on the issue. we know you are a humanitarian. how did you take a film and deliver a performance that is not proselytize in and pulls me into the humanity of the character? how difficult was that? >> it was. i did not want to direct a film.
i want it to -- how wrote the script as a quiet meditation in sinking about of violence against women and lack of intervention and how people turn on people. i thought what is it that happens to people who are just regular people who can turn an are warped by the environment. i wanted to do a film that was a meditation on that and study sisters and lovers and father and son and try not to judge anybody this is not a political statement. i tried to observe and listen to all sides of the conflict. it is not one side. but as the most important thing for the region which is which just want this to be a dialogue. we want to show humanity on all
sides. and show what happened. that and is strong but it is a metaphor for what happened. it is the metaphor. i tried and tried and gave it my heart and soul. i came from an honest place and i think sometimes you just hope that comes across. i hope it does. tavis: we were talking about the ending. you do not want to give it away but i am watching and there are two ideas i have about how it will and. you took me in and other direction. i want to ask about that. i thought it had to end this way or that trade. you went somewhere different 3 it was happy ending from the beginning? and did it ever change?
how did you settle on that? >> it just seemed right. this is what would happen if this for me. how far could you get pushed. in the end, the bigger message had to be, what is the metaphor for what happened. that is the accurate metaphor. tavis: the word i was going to use was cicero. given that your countrymen and lived this, it is not a surreal as it is taking you back to what was. how does one act out a part that is so unreal in the lives of people you know? >> it is really hard. you tell yourself you cannot
think about how difficult it is for you to enact that part of history of your people. it is a huge responsibility. at the same time, that made me do my research well. talk to people and the women i spoke to, in particular, one of them is a great friend. it was a very helpful and honest. because they were able to talk to me, it says how brave they are. i tried to represent them the best i could. >> it has happened to me where i thought a new a subject matter. and then researching in talking to people, i learned stuff i did not even now. did you have that experience as you started to talk to people
that you learned more money conflict? >> a being from bosnia, it was not about learning about the conflict. learning just how awful it was and how perfect and just how deep the the fear was and how important it was that these women are the victims and are the survivors. this is something that filmmakers often tends to forget when they're talking about bosnia or making any kind of art. they forget to say we're talking about survivors. to talk about what happened to them, this is like the new law passed. that rate is considered a war crime. -- rape is considered a war
crime. tavis: there was a scene in the movie that was for me the most seminal, moving part of the movie. because the movie is subtitled but there is a scene where zana and her sister in the film are reunited. i do not speak the language and i did not have to speak the language. you chose not to subtitle that scene because anybody understands what these sisters are saying to each other tell me about that scene. i thought the decision to not subtitle that was brilliant. >> thank you. it comes from my inability to write it. i felt that it was such a huge
and personal moment, such an undefinable moment that it needs to be bigger than anything that could come out of me or their malice. it needed to be universal in this way. the best way to do that was to show all of the feelings and the expression so they were not forced to, they could say something if they needed to but they did not have to. it was about their emotional connection that we did not force anything. it was just as we felt it should be. tavis: tell me how much you had to trust the actors. you know conflict and the story. how much did you have to surrender? >> i do not think i understand the conflict.
it is still so complicated today. i relied heavily on all of the actors and advisers and the victims we met. i wrote a script and considered it an outline. i said this is not my country or language. this is your story. everybody had the freedom to tell me this is wrong or we need more of that. so everybody had a voice and we made it together. i sent the script without my name on it. if they all agreed to come together and tell the same story then we have accomplished something. we have done something. if not, we burn the script and we're not going to make this movie. fortunately, they did. and you're everything to me. >> i want to ask zana, was there
any push back from the artist community, the body politic, when it got out and that you were coming given we know -- >> the artistic community, maybe because it is such a strong artistic community. while under siege they started a film festival. they used to their art as survival. the way they are open to all forms of art. they were very supportive. there was a rumor that it was about something is not about to so it made people nervous. we showed the script and we got our permits. it is so sensitive that you expect people to say, what is
this going to be? what is this story? so many people are traumatized. it never shook me. i hope they allow us to show them the final film and we have and they have embraced it. tavis: why send it out without your name on it? >> i wanted their honest reaction. whether good or bad, i wanted everybody to say, it is terrible tell the writer to [laughter] tavis: are thought about this while watching the film, how the artists survived the conflict. your community started an artifice -- festival in the middle of all of this. tell me about the arts community
survived and what they did. >> because i was in new york during the war i was lucky enough to have left with my mother to go back and learn my language. i was 8 when i left. i did not know very much about my culture and it was important to go back to my roots and meet with people. as i learn more about to the -- how brave they were and one of our actresses who plays the sister, she walked 8 kilometers to university to study acting and then eight back while being shot at through snipers and her
life in danger every minute of that walk. it tells you about how important is was and many artists came out from that era that are considered very good. tavis: i can only imagine that there had to be some moments and days where the a motion of what was being shot that day overtakes somebody. you cannot just". >> you had your date. >> i think everybody, every actor had to separate themselves and cry because it was reminding them of something or it was too much or even the man who had to be the aggressors did not want to do it.
they could not to do what they had to do. our first day of shooting was the first time the women are ripped off the buses and the rate happens. -- rape happens. that was the first day. there was the thought of, this is either want to break everybody or if it is going to do the opposite. it is going to drop lesson to be remedied. -- the reality. some people it was their first, the woman who is raped had never met before. but what happened was as soon as i called pat after he had to do this violent act to her, all of the man had to grit their clothing, he picked her up and
he dusted her off and all of the soldiers picked up the clothes for the women and said they were sorry. by lunchtime, people were holding onto each other and taking care of each other. i saw two girls holding hands. it remained that way through the chute. there was some much brutality that it brought out so much kindness and love between the people who suffered it to themselves. one of our actress lost 28 family members. everybody was affected. everybody became a family. there were some hard days. this scene where she is going through sniper alley, how do i director? i had to make her relive one of first -- worst memories. >> the scene was difficult that
happens before the war where the two characters meet in the club. it was fun. it should be fine except it was making me cry because that is the happiest time of the sarajevo i remember. my parents were happy and we had all of these friends. never did anyone think of such a horrible thing could happen. i was trying to play a happy scene while it was killing me. it was hard to get those smiles. it was not easy. what is the advantages and disadvantages of bringing to the screen a film about a subject matter that is relatively recent?
>> well, the disadvantage is that the wounds are still fresh. it is sensitive. the advantage is there is still time, and it is important, to continue to heal and keep focus on all of the people who are stealing in the region. this is still a sensitive time and some much going on. the economy is weak but the people are strong. there are a lot of these wounds. we cannot -- we kind of tie a bow on it and think, next. this one deserves our attention. it will pull back the attention focused. the anniversary is coming up. it is time to make sure things are heaving in the right direction. tavis: are they?
>> slowly, very slowly. very slowly. maybe i should say that again. i heard one of the women who was in the necessary votes during the siege and when the war was over she said, it is the same thing but only now i have to pay for the things like electricity and water and gas and food. during the war i did not have them. now half to. i do not have the money. tavis: what is your sense of how the movie is going to be received in seriema attacks >>
some people have seen the film. some of various organizations and victims of war. my father is writing every day and telling me about the reaction. they are very positive. people are happy the landed -- the movie is being made because they feel they had been forgotten. if you forget, there is a chance it may happen again. i think their fear is for the future generation, not just of the area, but of the whole world. i think they are proud because of this, the very beginning where bosnia is presented the way i have always felt it should be, with such didn't -- dignity and beauty.
tavis: there is always a buzz in this town about you. i cannot imagine that one takes on a project this ambitious that the thought of an academy award is in your head. what, for you, would represent a success on this project? or have you already achieved it? >> when that casting came together and we were all together in new york and i realized we had done this together and what that represented, i understood what that meant. standing together. when we first screened it for the people who were victims of the war, which was less than 10 days ago, i could not sleep a night before because it is for
them. to teach the world about them. so i cannot imagine anything beyond their approval and support. that was everything. tavis: you picked an ambitious project to come out with. have you decided whether you like this or not or despite this to do it? >> a good question. it is really hard for me. i have never been led by, you do what you want to do. you bring something you believe in. i do not have another story i need to tell right now. if i found one, i would be compelled to use film an order to express it. this was not to be a filmmaker.
this was to tell the story. i had a brilliant actress who made it easy. it meant so much. it was a passion project. >> we keep asking her the same question. what are you going to do next? >> we are doing a comedy. tavis: are was going to joke it would have to be different. anyway, if you did a wonderful time. zana, you are amazing. this is a great cast. "in the land of blood and honey," a great project. be sure to check it out. until next time, keep the faith.
>> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with donna britt plus grow hybrid. -- merel haggard. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic