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Gere film focuses on Bosnia war

September 22, 2006|From the Associated Press

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Richard Gere said he hopes his new film, "Spring Break in Bosnia," will raise questions about why those wanted for the Balkans' worst wartime atrocities remain at large.

The movie, directed by Richard Shepard, is being shot in Bosnia and Croatia. It tells the story of a pair of journalists (Gere and Terrence Howard) searching for a war crimes suspect. Although fictional, the character bears a close resemblance to one of the Balkans' last top suspects, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

Shepard won't reveal who will play the role of the hunted war criminal, a character he said is meant to symbolize all war criminals at large throughout the world.

Karadzic and his wartime military chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic, have been on the run since their indictments by the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at the end of Bosnia's devastating civil war more than a decade ago.

"We literally talk about this in the film. It's a question that is asked a lot: 'Why aren't these guys found?' " Gere, 57, told reporters in Sarajevo this week.

Shepard said he also hopes the movie "is asking a bigger question, which is, why are there war criminals throughout the world who the world said they want to catch and yet they don't.

"Osama bin Laden is the most wanted war criminal in the world with the largest bounty on his head, and some may question if people have a true interest to catch him," Shepard said.

Karadzic is believed to be hiding in Bosnia or Montenegro. He and Mladic are accused of ordering the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 -- the worst carnage in Europe since World War II.

Gere said he spoke to many people who went through the war in Sarajevo.

"It was hell. It was pure hell. This was a tragedy of the highest order.

"I'm interested in people who cause so much mischief, so much suffering. I think we can learn from them. Why they are the way they are and why are we so vulnerable to them."

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