Production Notes

The genesis of the project came in the Fall of 2001, when director Laura Bialis was introduced to Diane Brown, a Kosovo aid worker, through a mutual friend. From the outset it was clear that Diane’s humanitarian work in Kosovo coupled with Laura’s compelling background in human rights-inspired documentary film (she had recently finished a Holocaust-themed project called Tak for Alt: Survival of a Human Spirit) would make for a great project.

Diane had worked for the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and at the time was running her own non-governmental organization, Children’s HOPE, in the city of Mitrovica. Diane’s tales of the ethnic brutality and intolerance in Kosovo were startling, and the tragedy of this kind of ethnic horror recurring on European soil compelled Laura to begin preparations for the production immediately.

Production was planned and scheduled for May of 2002, but after a UN Policeman was killed in a riot near the bridge, UNMIK closed the borders and the film production had to be postponed indefinitely.

After Diane left Kosovo in 2004 to study law in the United States, John Ealer came onto the project as an additional writer/producer/director. Kosovo producers Behar Zogiani (a prominent Albanian journalist) and Jovica Miljkovic (a Serbian NGO worker who was a Serb anti-aircraft gunner during the NATO air campaign) were hired to facilitate the production locally. In August, 2005, John and Laura, along with cinematographer Sarah Levy, traveled to Kosovo to begin filming.

While the crew had no problems getting to Kosovo, their equipment did. The entire camera package was held up in London for a day, but the crew was able to secure a PAL camera package locally for the first day of shooting to avoid interruption.

Principal photography lasted 14 days using a Panasonic SDX-900 DVCPRO50 camcorder shooting 24P (the first day of shooting was on a PAL DVCAM camcorder.) John did most of the audio mixing, and Laura and John divided the interviews between them. With Behar translating Albanian and Jovica Serbian, Laura interviewed most of the Albanians and John most of the Serbs.

Because of the difficulties traveling between the south and the north sides of Mitrovica, roughly the first half of production took place with Albanians, and the second half with Serbians. The first time the crew crossed the main bridge in the Ibar River, a “Bridge Watcher” – a Serb extremist determined to keep Albanians from crossing the bridge – threw a rock at their car.

Behar Zogiani and Jovica Miljkovic, the Albanian and Serbian producers of the film, never met during principal photography. They have met once since, on the bridge, to deliver some videotapes to one another.

Post-production began immediately in September of 2005. The tapes were first transcribed in their native language, then translated into English. Due to the specifics of the Albanian Gheg dialect spoken in Kosovo, the translations were done in Kosovo. Since many packages destined for Albanian areas in Kosovo, if routed through Serbia proper, never make it to their destination, it took three shipments before the tapes reached their Kosovo translators.

Once the translations were complete, award-winning editor Bill Haugse (Hoop Dreams, Sunset Story), began work on a Final Cut Pro edit suite in Hollywood, CA. The first cut of the film was completed in March, 2006. After a break in post-production to accommodate other projects, John and Laura finished editing the film in November of 2006, with Bill consulting.