The movie has been one of the main topics in the media in the former Yugoslavia since the project was announced late last August. At first, Serbs expressed anger. Tabloids in Belgrade labeled the film "anti-Serbian," and in forums and comment sections on Serbian media websites, scores of insults were directed at Jolie, objecting to, as one commenter put it, Serbs being depicted as "infamous butchers."
In Sarajevo and other majority-Muslim parts of Bosnia, news of the production was originally greeted with jubilation. Yet in recent days, as Bosnian Muslims voiced their outrage over the rumored rape-romance, Serbs have shifted their stance slightly, perhaps believing that anything in the film that upsets Muslims is bound to please Serbs.
Adding to the media firestorm over the still-untitled movie were reports in Belgrade's respected Danas newspaper and the Alo tabloid that the movie involves the Serb character slicing or mutilating the woman's breast and raping her.
Kosinski declined to reveal script details but stressed Jolie's interest in constructing an authentic story, saying she had spent "months researching" the film and was using a multi-ethnic cast to better reflect the region's complexities.
Jolie said she saw the film as a continuation of her humanitarian efforts. "The choice to make a film about this area and set in this time in history was also to remind people of what happened not so long ago and to give attention to the survivors of the war," she said in her statement.
She has found some local support. Jasmila Zbanic, the Bosnian writer-director of "Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams," which won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2006, defended Jolie's movie. "Annulling the permit is an act of supreme primitivism and totalitarianism," she said in a statement, adding that there are "no noble motives" for denying the permit.
Zbanic said that she "absolutely believes in the integrity of the director, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian actors and the production company that is behind this movie."
Cirjakovic is a special correspondent for The Times.